In 2011, the disparate differences between traditional and digital talent were vast enough that I set out to build one of the first digitally focused talent management firms.
Recognizing the lessons we can learn from traditional media with the balance between innovation and time-tested models is vital as we move forward. Being the voice for talent is an age-old trade, but in the digital world, we had to approach things a little differently to break through. Through the years of building my business, I’ve noticed five key differences in the two worlds.
Here's the five key reasons a digital-only talent management firm was necessary and what it says about the differences in approach to new and traditional media in developing brand strategies for each.
1. New rules had to be written.
The traditional entertainment business had been operating the same way for many generations with the deals, players and buyers remaining essentially unchanged.
With digital, we didn’t have to play by those pre-existing rules. We were able to pave new roads, which led to talent controlling the power; deals moving quickly; and traditional gatekeepers having less leverage than ever. If we weren’t able to rewrite the rules, we wouldn’t have carved out our niche.
2. You can’t fake an understanding of digital.
Being of the same generation as the talent is invaluable. You understand them. They understand you. And both of you grew up using the same technology to communicate in a way that’s completely unique to that set.
The tools, platforms and mindsets are new concepts for traditional entertainment executives, but for myself and my talent, this has been our daily life for as long as we can remember.
3. You must be nimble.
Not being a part of the old-school mechanism allowed me to make quick decisions; adapt with the marketplace; and keep up with talent’s ever-changing creative and personal evolution.
Had I been reporting to a chain of command and proving what I knew to be true to an internal group, I never would have been able to build the business or holistically represent talent.
4. Clients need personalized attention.
It’s no secret that up-and-coming talent, or even established artists, can be put aside for the hottest act of the moment in a management company or agency.
In digital, since they’re firing on all cylinders and working 24/7, each client needs even more personalized attention than ever before.
Each person is essentially operating a large digital media company - publishing content on multiple platforms multiple times per day. In a large traditional firm, they would likely be lost in the mix.
5. Take the chance.
In the beginning, since digital’s earning potential was completely unknown, nobody would spend their time working to develop a career without knowing the eventual payoff.
Since we had nothing to lose, we drew from the blind ambition of our talent and helped them crack the code. Now, it’s important to remind ourselves to continue to take chances, and think outside the box in an effort to not become the sitting ducks we disrupted.