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Book-Talk with James Murphy, Marketing Manager at Live Nation

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James Murphy is a Marketing Manager at Live Nation, the global leader for live entertainment.

He started working at Live Nation back in 2006, as a marketing assistant and has been climbing up the ladder since then. James now manages the creation and implementation of marketing strategy, promotion, and public relation for more than 50 events per year. These are shows of all sizes and shapes, spread across multiple markets, and held in various arenas and amphitheaters in the Carolinas region.

While you never have a chance to get bored, working in the entertainment industry is also a huge challenge. It’s a fast-paced complex environment, and you have be able to juggle multiple projects simultaneously.

Day-to-day activities include (but are not limited to) collaborating with artist managers, agents, agency reps, making deals with media partners (both digital and traditional), structuring advertising and promotion campaigns, promotional product distribution – and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

I reached out to James after reading his altMBA alumni case study (altMBA is Seth Godin‘s program – an intense business and leadership sprint). Keep on reading to find out what books helped James gain clarity, how he manages to squeeze reading into his tight schedule, but also how Kanye West used the methodology from an entrepreneurship book to promote his album.

What’s your favorite book and why? Business and non-business, if possible.

Business – The Lean Startup by Eric Ries because it taught me how and why many businesses fail early on. Also, many of the principles found within the book can be found and applied outside of actual startup companies. For example, if you look at the strategy Kanye West used to market his album The Life of Pablo, it was all built upon testing the market with minimum viable product and then re-tooling based on the market’s response. Here is a great article that speaks specifically on this.

Non-Business – Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl because it helped me understand the concept of “suffering” on a much deeper level. More importantly, it led me to accept that how I respond to and deal with negative situations is completely in my control.

No One Here Gets Out Alive (biography of Jim Morrison) because I have been fascinated by Jim Morrison and The Doors since I was a young kid. Jim’s level of and commitment to artistry is so rare and I wanted to understand what made him tick. This book gives a lot of insight into not only his creative genius but the events in his life that shaped him.

Was there a moment, specifically, when something you read in a book helped you? Can you tell me about it?

Habit 2 of Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” states “Begin with the end in mind.” This helped me immensely and immediately on a macro level in terms of motivating me to clarify exactly where I want to be and what I want to be doing in 10-20-30 years. However, it also helped me on a micro level when starting a new project or venture. Starting anything, be it a hobby, business, sport, etc. can be daunting and I believe we often hide by getting caught up in minutiae which takes our eyes off the big “scary” goal (ex. what font should I use on the website?, what putter should I buy?, what programming language should I learn first?). By beginning with the end in mind, I force myself to clearly spell out what success looks like for a particular undertaking and anything trivial that disrupts me from arriving at said goal is tabled.

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What books had the biggest impact on you? (perhaps changed the way you see things, dramatically changed your career path)

Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeadership book has had a huge impact on me because after reading it there was no excuse to not be a great leader. This book spells it out for the reader and I love the concise message it delivers. It has not changed my career path per se but it really opened my eyes as to what it takes to build and strengthen a great team.

Options Volatility Trading by Adam Warner also had a major impact on me because I have always been into investing and until this book I never quite understood the specific strategies behind making money when the market goes up OR down. I was familiar with short selling but wanted to explore option contracts so right after college a good friend gave me this book. I read it immediately and began putting what I learned into practice.

What books would you recommend to youngsters interested in your professional path? Why? (no number limit here)

Bill Graham Presents My Life Inside Rock and Out because I think it’s very important for young people to understand the history of the concert business before trying to jump into it. You need to have a clear understanding of where it’s been to know where it’s going and how you can help take it there.

I’m interested in finding out more about your reading habits. How often do you read? In what format?

Every day, no preference as to the medium – ebooks, newsletters, physical books, educational magazines, blog posts, everything.

How do you make time for reading?

Personally, I do most of my reading at night after the kids are in bed and after I get home from the gym which tends to be between 10 pm and 11 pm. Once my work and personal / family responsibilities are done for the day I feel at ease to focus on reading or working on projects. Late at night I also have a better chance of being uninterrupted or can at least intentionally limit certain interruptions (ex. phone goes on silent). I know many people who read early in the morning but that never quite worked for me. I absorb more before I go to sleep and like to wake up thinking about / analyzing what I read the night before.

Do you take notes or have any other technique for conquering the torrent of information?

I highlight…a lot. To be honest, taking physical notes would be optimal and I should really start doing that!

How do you choose what books to read next?

It really depends on what is sparking my interest at the moment, what I have a goal of learning, and/or what is necessary for me to keep up with being an effective marketing person. Obviously, these three prerequisites do not always point to the same book so it just becomes a matter of prioritizing.

Do you prioritize those recommended by certain people? Is there anyone that you consider a book-recommendations guru?

In terms of what specific book I end up choosing to read next, I tend to trust reviews as long as I see they are consistent across multiple platforms (ex. Google, Amazon, etc). I also take a serious look at anything Bob Lefsetz recommends. He is a music business critic with an incredible enewsletter that also delves deep into topics completely outside of music.

By FAR the book that had the biggest impact on me from the recommended reading was Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon. The reason this book is so important to me is that it details something I have talked circles around for years which is the concept that nobody’s work is ever completely original. In some way, shape, or form we are always building on something that came before…and that is a good thing! Of course, the book does not at all recommend any type of plagiarism but it talks about how creative work is everywhere around us and we need to notice it. Taking inspiration from what is around us and already out in the world can only help in furthering our own endeavors. The entire world is open source.

I applied the principles of this book to my life simply by allowing myself to not always have the answer. I make no qualms about looking to and seeking out the great work of others to activate my own creativity.

Last question: what book are you currently reading and what are you expecting to gain from it?

For the past year or so I have been building websites and teaching myself how to code, mainly HTML, CSS, PHP, and Bootstrap. This led me to a desire to learn programming (JavaScript, Python, C++ etc.) and right now the majority of my reading is geared towards this goal.

I am also reading Subscription Marketing: Strategies for Nurturing Customers in a World of Churn by Anne Janzer. With the success of many SaaS based companies, I think it’s very important for marketers of all industries to understand the strategies behind not only acquiring new subscription customers but keeping your currently subscribed customers happy. In reading this book, I hope to gain insight on how the subscription-based model can segue into markets which may not currently consider it an option.

Links where you can follow James Murphy or find out more about his projects:

  • James @ LinkedIn
  • altMBA case study
  • LiveNation

  • Books mentioned by James Murphy in this interview:

  • The Lean Startup By Eric Ries
  • Man’s Search for Meaning By Viktor E. Frankl
  • No One Here Gets Out Alive By Jerry Hopkins, Danny Sugerman
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People By Stephen R. Covey
  • EntreLeadership: 20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches By Dave Ramsey
  • Options Volatility Trading: Strategies for Profiting from Market Swings By Adam Warner
  • Bill Graham Presents: My Life Inside Rock And Out By Bill Graham, Robert Greenfield
  • Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative By Austin Kleon
  • Subscription Marketing: Strategies for Nurturing Customers in a World of Churn By Anne Janzer
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