Womenize! – Inspiring Stories is our weekly series featuring inspirational women from games and tech. For this edition we talked to Nadine König, Artist Management Lead at INSTINCT3. She speaks about the key principles that guided her journey as well as how intercultural communication comes handy when working with influencers. Read more about Nadine in this interview:
Hi Nadine! Can you share some key insights and lessons you’ve learned from managing and working with YouTubers and gaming influencers for almost a decade? How has the landscape evolved during your career?

Upon reading “almost a decade”, my initial reaction was one of disbelief: “Wait, no. This can’t be.” Yet, as I contemplate, it’s undeniable that I’ve been a part of this landscape for quite some time now. Reflecting on the past, there have been significant transformations in various aspects of this industry, and delving into all of them might be quite extensive.

In a broad sense, virtually every facet has witnessed a heightened level of professionalism, encompassing not only the influencers themselves but also their management, the ecosystems of the platform, and the marketing strategies by publishers and non-endemic clients. When I say “professionalism,” I’m referring to the structures, the systems and information, ensuring that everyone operates within similar parameters. This shift has been beneficial for everyone, providing greater certainty and reducing the prevailing chaos. Moreover, this era of professionalism has seen a multitude of influencers successfully create their own brands and establish companies within this ecosystem, cementing their presence in the industry.

When I think about lessons and insights, numerous thoughts come to mind. Ultimately, it all boils down to three key principles for me.

Firstly, this is a marathon, not a sprint. Whether you’re an influencer or working with them, it’s crucial to think long-term. Building meaningful relationships, understanding each other, and co-creating a brand takes time. This enduring commitment holds far more value than solely chasing quick financial gains.

Secondly, keep up with the change. The industry, platforms, and the entire ecosystem have changed so much in this relatively short period of time. For instance, YouTube Gaming Content has evolved from 30-minute Let’s Plays to 8-minute highly edited videos, and now to uncut videos lasting over an hour. Being able to adapt and inform your influencers about these shifts is essential, as the platforms will continue to evolve with or without you.

Lastly, embracing challenges, or as I like to put it, “embrace the suck,” may sound unconventional. However, looking back, I’ve realized that working through the ups and downs with the influencers I’ve partnered with has been crucial. There are times when games are in high demand, and views roll in effortlessly. But these times change. There are times when the influencers themselves get a lot of attention and followers naturally flock in, but these times change as well. And there are times when platform algorithms favor you, yet, inevitably, those times also change. During these downturns, I’ve found that working closely with my influencers, adapting, making necessary changes, and staying motivated together, has been the key. Acknowledging that challenging times are part of the journey and approaching them with the right mindset allows us to navigate through them and emerge even stronger on the other side.

Your academic background includes Japanese studies. How did this unique educational experience lead you into the world of artist management and influencer marketing?

At first glance, it might seem that there’s no connection between the two. My studies didn’t involve gaming or entertainment; instead, they were firmly rooted in the Japanese language and the cultural aspects of Japan.

But it was during my six-month stay in Tokyo, I rekindled my love for video games when American students brought their PS3. Watching them play reignited my passion for gaming, as I hadn’t played any games for years. I then began exploring Let’s Plays and the realm of gaming influencers, unlocking a whole new world to me.

When I returned to Germany, I made the decision to pursue a career in the games industry. I discovered the world of YouTube networks, which offered a gateway to working with influencers, and sparked a strong desire to find my way into this world.

And although it still may seem that those two worlds are not connected, my studies provided me with the profound understanding of intercultural communication. This skill became my guiding light, enabling me to adopt perspectives different from my own, something I’ve carried into my career. In my work, where I deal with a diverse range of people, this skill is priceless. The ability to accept and understand different points of view and belief systems ensures that people are truly heard and understood.

While my affection for Japan and the enriching experiences of my studies remain, my passion for games has ultimately taken over, guiding my career path.

Could you describe some of the responsibilities and challenges that come with being an Artist Management Lead and what aspects of this role do you find most rewarding?

In my current role, I lead a team consisting of Artist Managers, Project Managers, and employed Artists within the Artist Services Department, totaling 12 team members. Consequently, my responsibilities encompass ensuring the department’s success in terms of artist and employee satisfaction, as well as its financial well-being. I’m also engaged in refining our artist portfolio, identifying potential great additions, while also considering if there might be artists who are no longer an ideal fit. Our aim is to grow sustainably rather than exponentially.

I believe the most significant challenge lies in maintaining a comprehensive overview and tracking all departmental activities without resorting to micromanagement. Until a few months ago, I was still actively managing projects as part of the team. However, my role has now evolved to be exclusively focused on leadership. This transition was difficult and required a change of perspective. I had to become comfortable with not being privy to every detail of each project and instead embrace a new supportive role for my team.

In the midst of it all, there are certainly challenging days when numerous issues require attention, and things don’t always go according to plan. Nonetheless, what brings me the most joy is working with my team to overcome these hurdles. These days, I no longer fix these challenges myself; rather, I coach my team to empower them to solve issues on their own, fostering their sense of accomplishment. This is the most rewarding aspect of my job, and I am looking forward to witnessing their continued growth.

Thanks for this interview, Nadine!

Nadine’s links: LinkedIn

Womenize! – Inspiring Stories Feature by Madeleine Egger