Feb-28-2013 from USC Times

HRSM professor hopes to bridge disciplines

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.

— Liz McCarthy

Sept-18-2012 from Wayne State Magazine

FPCA ‘03

“I’m very involved in five or six organizations and it’s allowed me to help shape the culture.”

When Armen Shaomian, FPCA ’03, was brainstorming names for his new Florida-based consulting business, the woman he worked for suggested a play on the word “Simoniz,” a 100-year-old company known for its high-quality car wax.

“She said you’re always Armenizing everything,” he recalls.

Today Armenize Inc., which specializes in nonprofits, is 2 years old, and its clients include the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, the South Florida Youth Symphony and the University of Miami.

“The reason the name came up is his very efficient and very business-like manner,” says that old boss with the bright new idea, Roberta Behrendt-Fliss. “I could always depend on him to get it done very well, very, very quickly.”

Behrendt-Fliss, director of productions at YoungArts, a program of the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts, says, “It just seems to be his nature.”

Shaomian has a chance to impress people in South Carolina with his nature and, perhaps, sign up some new clients there. That’s because earlier this year Shaomian accepted an assistant professorship in the Department of Sport & Entertainment Management at the University of South Carolina. In addition to teaching and researching the nonprofit performing arts industry, he’ll help develop a doctoral program focused on entertainment management for nonprofits.

“Thankfully, I am able to keep my Armenize Inc. work active in Miami and possibly expand on it outside of Florida,” he says.

Shaomian, the son of a jazz musician and a teacher, comes by his showbiz interests honestly. He moved all the way from his native Sweden to a cousin’s home in Huntington Woods a decade ago to pursue an undergraduate degree in piano performance at Wayne State. Then he moved to Florida to attend the University of Miami for graduate degrees in musical accompanying and chamber music, with a minor in music business.

“I specifically came down to Miami because they had a collaborative piano program,” says Shaomian, a pianist for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Civic Orchestra before heading South. “Now more and more schools are beginning to see this as an opportunity.”

He brings some wide experience to both his new company and his new academic job: He has volunteered with music organizations, taught at the University of Miami and directed the school’s full-service music publishing company.

“I’m actually surprised at the amount of attention I received because Miami is not really known for the performing arts,” he says.

But that’s changing.

More and more people live in Miami year-round, increasing the pool of attendees and benefactors for arts organizations, he says. In addition, a $51-million South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center opened last year in an area devastated by Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

“What’s kept me here is that on many levels it’s very new,” he says. “I’m very involved in five or six organizations and it’s allowed me to help shape the culture.”

— Ilene Wolff

Jun-29-2010 from My Life in the City e-magazine

Armenize, Your Mission is our Philosophy

Take a Doctor in music, add to it savvy business acumen, throw in a European background and you get Dr. Armen Shaomian – pianist, entrepreneur and arts consultant.

The 30 year-old Swedish-Armenian native who has called Miami his home for the past seven years is fresh off his tenure as Programs Manager and associate producer at the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts and has recently incorporated Armenize, a consulting company handling issues that mainly pertain to the non-profit arts sector.

What makes a pianist a good consultant? "What doesn't?," says Dr. Armen with a big smile. "Having a musical background is probably one of the reasons I have become very logistics-minded. Music is very similar to architecture because you have to first create a blueprint that will be your guide – in our case the composition. Then you have to refine it over and over again in layers until it reaches a state of perfection. The same goes for the way I consult with my clients. This is not a general consulting firm that prescribes
solutions without having diagnosed the client's needs. I work closely alongside my clients in order to get a true sense of their concerns and together create a solution that will be the most reasonable and fiscally successful in the long term for their organization."

His former administrative work has allowed him to liaison with institutions such as the Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York, the Smithsonian American Art Museum as well as John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. Dr Armen's prior work also includes the music business world such as holding the position of Managing Director of Cat 5 Music Publishing based at University of Miami as well as the role of Assessment Manager at the Office of Accreditation and Assessment. Musically, he has directed shows and large-scale productions since he was in high school, most notably as the music director of the acclaimed touring company of The Second City Theater, which in turn named a show after him – Armen Shaomian's Christmas Spectacular. The production was a huge hit and he got to work alongside major players in the comedy world. He has also written a book on Swedish National-Romantic music and his piano performance is featured on a compilation disc titled Vaxholm – ett dubbelnoje, both available on Amazon.

A busy schedule however, does not hinder Dr. Armen from serving on philanthropic boards and he was recently elected as the Vice-Chair of the Green Room Society at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County. "I have always believed in the arts and culture and the need for having it accessible to the community. When you have the privilege of living in a vibrant city such as Miami, you can't help but wanting to jump right in and be a part of it."