In Chapter 8 of 15 in his 2009 Capture Your Flag interiew, Island Def Jam Records and its business of making big-time superstars provides Columbia University MBA Andy Epstein a platform to manage operations and budget within the record label promotions group.
Erik Michielsen: So now you manage operations in the promotions department at Island Def Jam Records in NYC. Tell me a bit more about your job.
Andy Epstein: IDJ (Island Def Jam) is one of the major record labels. Island is celebrating its 50th anniversary, Def Jam its 25th. Everyone knows Def Jam and everyone knows Island Records from Bob Marley to U2. The major label game has shifted. There are still major labels, big time record labels, in the business of making big time recording superstars. Part of that game is promotion, is getting these artists out across the country and heard by many, many, many ears. You cannot have a superstar, you cannot have a Kayne West, if a 100 million people are not hearing their songs a week. That is the promotion department’s job, to make sure those songs are heard. My job is to make sure everything gets done and happens within a budget. Managing a budget is part of my job. My promotion department colleagues are salesmen trying to promote, promote, promote, sell, sell, sell. This is hot, this is what you gotta to know about. And then they call me up and say this is what I did and I made this deal and this deal and I say, oh man, we didn’t have any money for the deal. OK, tell me again, let`s figure out how we are going to make this work and I go through what they do and just make it work. Make it work within the systems.
There`s compliance, there are budgets, there are finance and operations. The guys out selling don`t worry about these things. They check back in with me, sometimes every couple hours… this is what I’m doing, ok, that will be fine or that will not work and you`ll have to slow it down.