The Clash between Suits and Creatives: Management of Primadonnas in the Music Industry

Josephine Hall

Student thesis: Master thesis


Introduction: The aim of this thesis is to investigate the bilateral relationship between artists and record companies in the English music industry. It is particularly interesting how the two need each other and yet rarely manage to collaborate efficiently. This draws attention to the motivations of the involved parties. The difficult relationship results in conflicts where especially some types of artists react strongly. This leads the scope of the thesis to focus on the primadonna archetype. The purpose is ultimately to find out how to successfully manage the primadonna artist. Methodology: This is an exemplifying case study with empirical data based on the qualitative research interview. Six interviews with various music industry professionals have been conducted. Each of these contributes with unique insights and perspectives in relation to the field of investigation. Hein’s development of Herzberg’s Critical Incident Method provides a foundation for diagnosis of the artists according to their archetype. Findings: The primadonna artists and record companies need each other, because they have important competences in two different domains that are crucial to the existence of both parties. The skills of the primadonna artist lie in novelty creation, whereas the skills of the record companies lie in value creation. Novelty and value creation cannot exist without one another. The clash mainly occurs in situations where the primadonna artist’s kicks, flow and identity states are threatened. The solution has traditionally been boundary spanners working across the two domains. An alternative solution is emerging as more primadonna artists are taking a DIY approach. Conclusion: Relying on boundary spanners is problematic in several ways. It is of great risk for record companies and primadonna artists to leave the responsibility of a successful collaboration on such a limited number of people. The level of education, experience and competences varies widely amongst people undertaking the role of boundary spanner. This study finally develops a guideline for managing primadonnas in the music industry, where suggestions to dissemination and application of this are posed.

EducationsMSc in Management of Innovation and Business Development, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2013
Number of pages79