Harvard students could learn a lot from Lady Gaga's meteoric rise to the top of pop music superstardom, according to one business school professor who has made Mama Monster part of the curriculum.
MBA students in the second-year course "Strategic Marketing in Creative Industries" will study the decisions that propelled the former Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta to become Forbes' 2011 Most Powerful Celebrity at age 25 with earnings of more than $90 million in the past year.
"What interested me initially, and I think most people fail to realize, is that Lady Gaga had a really, really fast rise to the top," said associate professor Anita Elberse, who authored a new case study on Gaga with a student. "In 2008, she was still touring with New Kids on the Block as a supporting act."
The case study focuses on the decision faced by Gaga manager Troy Carter in September 2009 when rapper and co-headliner Kanye West backed out of a large arena "Fame Kills" tour with Gaga just a few weeks before its start. Students will debate the options: whether Gaga should continue with the big tour as a solo artist, embark on a scaled-down solo tour or cancel the tour altogether.
Gaga, who teamed up with Harvard to launch an anti-bullying foundation this week, ended up launching the biggest tour ever by a debut headliner, according to Billboard. Running from November 2009 to this past May, the "Monster Ball" tour grossed $227.4 million and brought in 2.5 million people.
"It doesn't really matter what they ended up doing, the case study is more about what are the pros and cons of each -- it's to understand underlying strategies to launching artists," Elberse said.
Business students learn when it's time to keep building and investing in a brand, and when it's time to capitalize on those efforts, according to Elberse.
"The case describes the music industry in considerable detail, so they learn how contracts are structured, for instance, and who the major players are," she said.
The case study also looks at Gaga's hands-on approach to social media that's earned her legions of "little monsters" as fans. For example, she has more than 15 million Twitter followers.
Elberse's elective course covers 24 case studies in all, including ones on Miami Heat star LeBron James, Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova and actor Tom Cruise's relationship with MGM Studios.
"It's very popular," said Elberse, who started teaching the class for the fifth time in September to 180 students. "It's several times oversubscribed."
Most Popular Stories
- Consumer Spending Will Offset Sequester: Economists
- Hispanic Grads Pass Their Peers in College Enrollment
- AT&T Seeks to Fill 120 Jobs in South Carolina
- Gas Prices Expected to Stay High
- California Considers Oil Tax to Fund Schools
- Dude! California Beach Parking Plan Making Waves
- Ford's Supplier Diversity Program Turns 35
- Yahoo to Pay $1.1 Billion for Tumblr
- NTSB Wants to Lower Blood Alcohol Limit to 0.05
- Boise Terror Suspect Pleads Not Guilty