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In this second installment of “Getting to Know AEMM,” I interview Justin Sinkovich, Assistant Professor in the Arts Entertainment, and Media Management department and supervisor for Media Management and Self Management for Artists. Read on to discover how he came to teach at Columbia (you will be pleasantly surprised!), how he knows the “who’s who” of rock, and what his favorite TV shows may or may not be!
Hi Justin! Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do in the AEMM department?
I teach a variety of courses in media management, particularly in the new media online realm. I’ve also taught a great number of music business courses. My background is mainly in technology and music business. I worked my way up in the music business from the warehouse of a distributor, to a sales position, to being a label manager for the US office of Southern Records, and then finally to director of new media at Touch and Go Records and Distribution. I co-founded a couple of music-related web start-ups, including the Webby winning Epitonic.com, which I still run to this day. I produce and perform music, mainly content for Epitonic, which is a great way to stay creative. I’ve also worked at a film company called Palm Pictures, and actually, my first job out of college was at a weekly newspaper, all of which has been valuable in overseeing the broader media management curriculum that is related to all forms of new and traditional media, including film and journalism.
What can graduate students expect from the AEMM graduate program?
I can speak to that question well, because I actually earned my master’s degree from AEMM! Being in such a large and high-quality department, the AEMM graduate program is a great way to learn the business side of artistic fields or the more artistic side of business, depending on what your previous education and professional background is. Students earn an overall arts management degree but can take classes related to for-profits and not-for-profits, visual arts, music business, performing arts, media management, and much more. Students always astound me by how smart and savvy they are.
What do you think makes the AEMM graduate program at Columbia unique?
AEMM is a great combination of traditional business principles and the application of these principles to the arts, targeting careers in really exciting industries. Because the AEMM program speaks to a number of areas in arts management, students gain a more comprehensive understanding of how all of these industries collaborate and have largely converged. Due to Columbia’s and AEMM’s relatively large size and dedication to the arts, students have a great number of specialized courses to choose from in the AEMM department, and students can even take a couple of courses in one or more of the other great departments on campus. AEMM and all of Columbia also focus on bringing in fantastic part-time instructors who are in tandem doing great work in the industries our professionals want to work in. The full-time instructors are doing really interesting work, as well. I think being located downtown in such a major city helps attract faculty and students who are already contributing to the fields they are learning about or teaching about, with jobs, internships, and even their own businesses.
Finally, what is your favorite album/artist/show/production/etc.?
I have a giant music collection, so that is tough to say. I like all genres of music, but I’ve worked with some fantastic artists over the years like Sufjan Stevens, The National, Henry Rollins, Fugazi, TV on the Radio, The Swell Season, Calexico, and literally hundreds more… so many of them are great musicians and people.
Otherwise, I am a big TV fan. There are tons of great shows on cable television these days like Shameless, Boss, Treme, Mad Men, The Wire, and of course Breaking Bad.
Justin Sinkovich is an Assistant Professor in the Arts, Entertainment, & Media Management department of Columbia College Chicago. He supervises the Media Management and Self Management for Artists courses. You can contact him here.