Music to the ears
As any teen can attest, the shelf life of a popular
song is about as long as it takes for the next one
to download. “It’s a cliché, but in the music world,
time is money,” says Indianapolis, Indiana, USA-based Colleen Armstrong, PMP, senior director
of the operations project management office for
global music and publishing company Universal
Ms. Armstrong’s teams do everything from
developing websites for artists to implementing
However, she notes that managing IT projects
in the music business often isn’t that different from
similar roles in other industries. Many of the challenges her teams face are common IT obstacles: the
need for fast turnaround using limited resources
and facing scope uncertainty at the outset.
“The majority of projects for our group focus on
the server and infrastructure,” Ms. Armstrong says.
“Not all of the projects may be flashy, but they sup-
port a significant portion of the business.”
Whether a project involves developing a website
for an artist who may change his of her mind on the
site’s look and feel or building a payment system for
stakeholders who may require additional infrastruc-
ture, being agile around scope is the only way to
deliver a product that everyone will buy into. “When
working in this kind of environment, you have to
be fluid and have a robust change management
system,” she says.
Some project teams rely on a version of agile
processes that allows for flexibility on the front
end, with plenty of iterations and stakeholder
feedback. In this way, the music industry is similar to many other
sectors that rely on
for key projects.
“You have to
When working in this kind of environment, you have to be fluid and have a robust change management system.”
—Colleen Armstrong, PMP, Universal Music Group,
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
Concerts, festivals and other theatrical performances
can require just as much planning and management as
any IT initiative—and the delivery dates are set in stone,
says Tanya Michell, founder of the Toronto International
Music Summit, an annual conference and showcase
festival to serve the Canadian arts and culture industry.
In 2013, Ms. Michell will help host the third annual
summit in Toronto, Ontario, Canada; each year, she
notes, the project plan gets bigger and more complex.
The summit combines live concerts with opportunities for musicians to hone the business side of their craft
through finance, business and legal courses, marketing
seminars, and networking events.
Planning for the May festival begins the previous
June, when Ms. Michell lays out a rough budget and
scope for the event based largely on the support of
government grants and local sponsors.
Creating a project plan that meets the festival’s
needs while satisfying stakeholder expectations is a
constant challenge. “They want to see value for their
investment, so we have to get them to buy into our
vision,” she says.
Ms. Michell shows potential stakeholders a detailed
summary report of previous events, highlighting revenue
generated, media coverage and attendee feedback. “It’s
a way of showing them the value they received from
having their brand attached to us so they will stay on
board for the next year,” she says.
She also gathers feedback through on-site surveys,
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE TORONTO INTERNATIONAL MUSIC SUMMIT
they understand the current status of the project,”
she says. This is vital not just to gain their support, but also so they can communicate about the
project to their own customers and stakeholders
throughout the organization.
To do so, Ms. Armstrong customizes status
reports to the style and needs of her stakeholders.