Gaga’s Intermediaries

I recently had the chance to read the case study of Lady Gaga, by Anita Elberse and Michael Christensen, published by the Harvard Business School. When it might be surprising for many at a first glance that there are high-level academic studies about a music celebrity in places like Harvard University, it may not be difficult to understand them when they are focused in the figure of Lady Gaga, whose abrupt jump into world fame in recent years represents an exceptional phenomenon far beyond the music industry and culture. The study of her case now even has a full course in the University of South Carolina devoted to it, the course SOCY398D, or LADY GAGA AND THE SOCIOLOGY OF THE FAME.

When reading the Harvard’s case study it was inevitable to think about the huge role that the so-called “music intermediaries” played in the development and rise of the figure of Lady Gaga. From her manager to her record label, agent, promoters, attorneys, accountants and even her outfit designers… it is thanks to the effort of all this people (together with the talent and devotion of Gaga herself) that Lady Gaga became the world superstar that is today and that all of us know about, besides our opinions about her or whether we like her or not.

A very surprising fact that the case study also talks about is related with the revenues of her concert tours. In the first stages of her 2009 Fame Ball Tour, Gaga’s first theater-sized venues tour around the United States, despite all the success that she had already achieved with her music and even with the ticket sales of the shows, despite all the hard work devoted in putting the concerts together, the tour was loosing money. The enormous expenses in the production of the show, the maintenance of an enormous staff team, as well as many other factors, were taking the new pop superstar in the way to bankrupt. It was again the job of Lady Gaga’s team to make the right decisions to revert this tendency and point Gaga’s career (and income!) to the stars. A partnership with the multinational promoter Live Nation, among other wise decisions, made that the second part of the tour (an arena tour around the world between February 2010 and March 2011) generated a total gross income of $195,000,000 US Dollars, which again should bring our attention to the enormous importance of having a great team working together in the common goal of success.

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