Please tell us your story! How did you get to where you are today?
Hello! My story starts in Florida where I grew up and went to college. During my time in school, I took up a part time job working at the student run venue on campus. I started at the door and worked just about every position they had to offer, and eventually I was promoted to Talent Buyer where I got to actually book all of the concerts. It felt like a dream job, bringing some of my favorite artists (like Bright Eyes, WHY?, Kendrick Lamar) to a small city that otherwise wouldn’t have attracted any nationally touring artists. It was through that job that I realized the music industry was a career that I could pursue in the real world. It was such a relief to realize this – booking shows felt waaaay more fulfilling than what I was actually studying.
Throughout a few different internships, I learned that I really loved the artist side of things as opposed to the promoter side. It felt much more meaningful to work directly with the artists. After school, I moved to Chicago to pursue music business through an agency internship. I also worked a few side jobs including the legendary Empty Bottle venue, and eventually found home at the incredible Flowerbooking, an independent agency that repped many of my favorite indie artists (Cap’n Jazz, Ted Leo, Ratatat). After assisting for a while, I was eventually presented with the opportunity to start booking. The folks at Flower took a chance on me and really encouraged me to grow my roster into something unique and strong, bringing attention to a realm of talented artists that were being overlooked for some crazy reason by the rest of the industry.
Now, here I am, 17 artists later 🙂
I just moved to LA a few months ago, and have happily joined the Ground Control Touring family whose agents and roster I have admired for the longest time (since college!).
Tell us about your role, what does your day-to-day entail?
Lots of emailing! I do my best to prioritize my inbox every morning, making sure I don’t miss time sensitive things like last minute announcements. It can be very difficult to multi-task when your inbox is constantly filling up, so prioritizing is the key to staying afloat.
Each of my artists are on different record cycles, so my tours are always at different stages. Every day I’m seeing what the next step is for each artist. My days usually include a mix of things, including routing new tours, pitching artists to festivals, coordinating announce/on-sales for tours that are finished and ready to go, making sure contracts are issued for each show, and that existing shows are doing okay. I’m constantly sharing incoming offers with my artists and seeing if each offer is something that makes sense for them.
For those who are unfamiliar, tell us a bit about Ground Control Touring, what artists do you work with/have you worked with?
Ground Control Touring is an independent agency that has been around for almost 20 years. We work with a diverse roster of artists, including career artists like Bright Eyes, Jenny Lewis, Angel Olsen, and newer rising artists like Stella Donnelly, Crumb, Black Midi, & more.
I’m very proud of how my own roster has taken shape, it’s very representative of my music taste and what I find to be meaningful modern music. I work with quite a few synth artists, like ADULT., Boy Harsher, Black Marble, and Drab Majesty. And then some more pop leaning artists like Tamaryn, Miserable, and Choir Boy, as well as more indie leaning artists such as Dehd, Ohmme, and Spirit of the Beehive. I also work with some heavier sounding artists like Gouge Away and HIDE. And Australia’s very own Death Bells 🙂
My goal has been to keep things diverse, focusing on artists that I find to be truly compelling live. Because there are so many bands on the road now, having a strong live presence is one of the most important parts of sustaining a career as an artist. It can really make or break someone’s musical career. I find myself drawn to bands that have created something really unique in their live shows, bands that people get genuinely excited to see live instead of just listening to at home.
Do you feel that higher education is a necessary step to enter the music industry
Nope! If you are able to go into higher education with financial stability, then by all means, go for it. But please do not go into debt to work in this industry! It’s important to remember that music business programs are a very new area of study. The most successful folks in music right now did not go to school for it, they learned by taking opportunities and doing things in real life.
Interning, booking DIY shows, tour managing, working at venues, finding a mentor and asking questions, booking a tour for a friend – whatever resources you have, use it to your advantage and learn everything you can. Higher education is a great thing but it’s just simply not accessible to everyone, and certainly not worth debt when they are other ways to learn and succeed.
Have you had to overcome any challenges or adversity in your career, and if so, how did you approach them?
Absolutely. I’d like to first shout out a special person who told me years ago I would never become an Agent 😉 Whenever I’m feeling frustrated with work, I definitely like to remind myself of that, hah!
Honestly though… I’ve found it really challenging to sustain this career and keep my head up at times. It’s very tough financially at first, the industry is notorious for that. And of course financial insecurity is a slippery slope, leading to anxiety and a number of other stresses. When I was getting started, I had to hustle to be able to intern for free. There was a time when I was working 3 – 4 jobs at once. When I started my first full time job, I was secretly picking up shifts on the weekends at my old service industry job in order to support myself.
However – I can absolutely say as you grow into your career and develop your artists, there is a lot more room for financial growth. The industry can be very rewarding, it just takes some patience and understanding that things take time to grow.
I’ve also found it difficult for people to take me seriously at times, something I attribute to being younger/newer compared to the many agents/promoters who have been doing this for 20+ years. It took a lot of tries to get people’s attention when I first started booking, even to just get email responses. Over time those promoters have seen my shows go to more trusting promoters, and after seeing my artists sell out shows, those promoters that initially ignored me eventually started reaching out about working together (which I always found funny). There’s a lot of “proving yourself” in this business, but I think loyalty is very important. The promoters that gave me a chance early on are the promoters I look forward to working with the most.
Who are your top 3 artists to watch?
It’s really hard to pick just 3! I think a lot of the artists I work with will make big moves in 2020, but here are a few people should look out for:
One is Choir Boy – a dream pop band really putting Salt Lake City on the map, who will have a new record out next year on Dais Records. Over the past year I’ve witnessed more and more people discover and connect with their music. It’s been amazing to see them get more recognition, they truly deserve it. Adam Klopp, the lead singer, has an incredibly strong voice from years of choir practice (a true choir boy). Their music is haunting and beautiful, really unique sounding but also catchy and infectious at the same time.
I also think Ohmme are a phenomenal band, they’ll have new music out within the next year and I’m so excited to see what they come out with. Ohmme is Macie Stewart and Sima Cunningham from Chicago. They’re both classically trained artists that craft really beautiful, intricate songs and harmonize like you’ve never heard before. Every time I see them live I can’t believe they’re real. Truly musical angels.
Another is the amazing electronic duo, BOAN, who will also have a new record out within the next year. Mariana and Jose are incredible artists – on stage, Jose creates ethereal synth soundscapes while Mariana commands the crowd with her strong vocals + stage presence. She sings in Spanish and English with such a powerful energy. Jose’s synths are able to convey so much positive emotion. Their songs always wake me up and put me in a good mood.
What Aussie acts are you keen to catch at BIGSOUND?
Quite a few so far! I’ve heard great things about ZĀN, Kitschen Boy, Gordon Koang, and Laura Imbruglia. Excited to check out the rest of the lineup!
What would your younger self like to remind your current self?
Trust yourself! I’ve signed quite a few artists who were very DIY at first and didn’t have a label in place right off the bat. If you believe in an artist’s music / live performance, trust that the other pieces will fall together as they grow! I’ve been very happy working with the artists I took a chance on 🙂