University of South Carolina

Armen Shaomian

HRSM professor hopes to bridge disciplines

By Liz McCarthy,, 803-777-2848

Armen Shaomian has an interesting story. A child prodigy from Sweden, he spent his childhood on the national stage playing piano, doing voice recordings for Disney and developing a passion for performance. He went on to work with the famed Second City comedy troupe as the musical director. Last fall he joined the Department of Sport and Entertainment Management as the other “entertainment guy.” He has big plans for USC and Columbia.

You teach management so you have an interest in the business side of music, but you also continue to perform. What do you like better?

I like both. Music business is still finding itself in new technology. There are a lot of artists that can manage their own bands or give out records on an indie label now. You can record your own album with a nice computer and put it on iTunes. You could never do that before. So I love being an active performer who also knows the entrepreneurship or business side of things.  

What made you decide to get into music business if you love performing so much?

When I started doing live shows with Second City where I would write the music and pick the songs that the actors would sing, I started to get into the business aspect of things.  I realized that if you pick this kind of song, it will set this kind of mood for the audience. There’s so much that music controls that people don’t realize. I realized then that there’s much more than just the performance. There’s business planning that goes into any sort of performance.

In Miami you were running your own consulting business. What made you decide to become a professor?

In my mind, there is no difference whether I’m on a stage or in front of 85 college freshmen. They are all here to learn. It’s been an easy transition, mostly because I still go back to Miami and perform. The teaching part I actually really enjoy, especially when you have students that want to learn more or get internships.

You left Miami, which has a vibrant arts scene, for Columbia. What do you think about the Palmetto State’s arts scene so far?

Columbia is certainly smaller than Miami, so you can’t compare it. But I was impressed by the amount of culture here. The first thing I do when I visit a town is look at the arts scene because it says a lot about the people who live there. And Columbia has quite a thriving arts scene. What I’ve noticed is that we have this wealth at USC and this cultural wealth in Columbia but from the short time I’ve been here, they don’t work together at all. I’m hoping to be able to connect those two to help advance the arts in the community.

It seems like you’re big on collaboration. Do you see other areas at USC that you can bring together?

I’ve already become involved with the Music School and I’d like more contact with the Moore School. We have quite a few Moore School students in our minor. I get a nice cross mix of students from all the different programs at USC. I get to swap some ideas and work with those students. Hopefully as I settle in here at USC, I will have opportunities to collaborate cross colleges and work with colleagues on innovative research that can have an impact on the way we regard and consume entertainment today.

This story originally appeared in the USC Times. For more from this issue, check it out online

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Posted: 03/06/13 @ 12:00 AM | Updated: 03/11/13 @ 9:55 AM | Permalink



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