November 24th, 2020
Were thankful for dolly mentors and 💯 capacity
Today's read...6 minutes
While some areas are pushing back event dates again, others are at full capacity. Live Nation takes more steps to help industry crew workers, while AXS fires back on their recent announcements. This is the week to be thankful - whether you’re a mentor or a mentee you’re not going to want to miss out on this week’s Headliner article!
The recent surge in COVID-19 cases has events pushing dates back amidst safety concerns. Tampa’s Sunset Music Festival pushes (again) to Memorial Day 2021, keeps 2020 lineup. Rolling Loud Miami moves to May 7th-9th. While Bottlerock moves their May dates to Labor Day 2021.
Musicians and bands continue to find ways to use their music to support small businesses. Toronto DJ Ryan Shepherd raised $20,000 for local businesses and charities. While Jack Daniels and Chase Rice team up to produce a live stream series to raise money for his band and crew.
Georgia Tech researchers created a COVID-19 Risk Assessment Planning Tool to help policymakers, event planners, and individuals evaluate the risks associated with gatherings of various sizes throughout the U.S.
Live Nation Germany is bringing together local superstar musicians for their #becomelouder (#lauterwerden) livestream charity event on December 12th-13th. The event is free to attend, but attendees will be encouraged to make donations that will fund the Crew Nation initiative.
Queensland leads the charge in returning to somewhat normalcy as venues take on full capacity. With a new COVID-19 Safe Event Checklist, they’re able to open outdoor events and open-air stadiums to 100% capacity. They even set a record attendance with a 50,000 person rugby match! Bars and nightclubs will have to wait a little longer, though.
While events come with their challenges in any circumstance, in COVID-19 times, they become even more difficult. Find out how Executive Producer Robert Deaton and CEO Sarah Trahern successfully handled safety protocols with a live audience for the CMA’s.
As Taiwan surpasses 200 days without any cases, they see a full return to live events; from public gatherings to music festivals. They recently hosted Road to Ultra with 10,000 fans in attendance. It proved largely successful despite a few international DJs who broke the “one-room one person” rule during rehearsal.
Last week, we broke down the fact and fiction behind Ticketmaster’s vaccine “requirement” launch. This week, rival AXS speaks out against the method stating they are not convinced since people can get infected in the last 48 hours (leading up to the event), and receive a false negative test.
Despite the vast differences in how venues reopen across the world, there is one commonality: social distancing. This week, we saw a new venue with private pods open in Hong Kong and disinfecting fog machines in Dubai, as Coca-Cola Arena reopens for the first time since February.
Could Dolly Parton be 2020’s angel? After a long streak of charitable giving, the renowned country singer’s most recent act of kindness might just save us (literally) from COVID-19. But seriously, we aren’t kidding, see Dolly depicted as an actual angel in her newly released Netflix special.
What event worker hasn’t described themselves as a Jack (or Jill) of all trades at one point or another? Well, it’s true! This is a unique community where it’s common for professionals to have degrees in subjects unrelated to the field; microbiology, engineering, teaching, you name it! To flourish in this industry most learn their skills through on-the-job learning experiences, absorbing lessons in a fast-paced and often high-stress environment. While this past year hasn’t allowed most to be able to learn new skills in person, it is important to capitalize on the downtime that has been given to us. With Sonic Workshops you can easily access mentors that teach accountability, team building, and networking that can help you meet and hopefully even exceed your career goals. Now, more than ever, it is vital to stay in contact with the community and explore how to continue broadening your skillset.
Silence The Artists, Shout The Message
More than 125 Spanish venues recently hosted silent shows as part of a campaign to raise awareness of how stages may remain silent if they don’t receive more support soon. The initiative originally started with venues posting on social media with their founding date and a question mark next to 2020, and morphed into livestreamed ‘performances’ where artists’ sounds were cut off or they just held signs in protest. The campaign is known as ‘The Last Concert’ (#ElUltimoConcierto) and featured Amaia, Louise Sansom, Joan Colomo, Nuria Graham, to name a few artists. This is just the latest in a long string of creative protests worldwide to portray our message for more support. We hope that these creative minds will soon begin putting their imagination back into creating experiences in the live music industry.
A New Standard
The Association for Electronic Music (AFEM) recently issued a code of conduct for the live music industry. Since this line of work often takes place in very different settings than your typical office, the standards they are set to and the behaviors workers display can be a lot more relaxed. This is why AFEM is pioneering a movement to create new guidelines for a work environment consisting mainly of contracting professionals often not under typical HR standards. This official document outlines the industry’s zero-tolerance policy for sexual misconduct and gender discrimination and strives to set a new music industry standard.
Back of House's own Sally Lidinsky is an event executive who has been producing music and sporting events for over 15 years, including recent roles as VP of Events at Townsquare Media and the Professional Fighters League. Her favorite parts of the live event world are making things happen, organizing chaos, and most of all, helping those around her learn and grow in the industry.
Many of us enter this industry because we love music and events, and very few of us have formal live event training (is that even a thing?), including me. We learn through our own experiences and the experiences of those who’ve come before us, which makes finding a mentor really helpful. I had the opportunity to chat with my mentor, Matt LaRose, President of All Axis Entertainment, about the importance of mentorship in general, and specifically, in the live events industry.
Matt and I worked together for 6 years at Townsquare Media (TSQ). When I started as a Producer of Live Events in 2013, Townsquare was beginning to acquire music festivals and Matt was single-handedly running them. During our tenure together, the department grew to include expos, fairs, experiential events, and even more festivals. Our team expanded to nearly 40; and both of our roles evolved. At our peak, we produced 7 music festivals, 3 expos, and 2 town fairs in a single summer, with 7 of those events occurring in June alone. I left TSQ as VP of Live Events, responsible for running our festivals and expos division. At that time Matt was SVP of Live Events, overseeing all of Townsquare’s events, including other touring properties and 300+ events in TSQ’s 67 local markets. I strongly believe that without his mentorship, I wouldn’t be where I am in my career and as a leader today. Matt taught me, challenged me, pushed me, and ultimately gave me opportunities to do better and be better.
Here are some highlights from our conversation:
SALLY: Let’s start out with a bit about your background. Who are you, how did you get to when we worked together?
My story is a little unique in that my path to get to where I was contains building blocks. I had mentors at Arizona State University, including Head Groundskeeper, Brian Johnson, who taught me how to run athletic facilities; a profession that I loved. Then I went to the Sacramento River Cats and Alan Ledford took me under his wing and taught me the business side of baseball. I learned the events and entertainment side on my own, by fire, really. And then I got to go work with Dhruv Prasad at Townsquare Media and create something from scratch, which was fantastic.
SL: Do you remember when we first met? (My interview with TSQ) What do you remember about it? Any initial thoughts?
ML: I remember your demeanor: you were professionally dressed, professionally prepared, and you were eager. What I remember the most is you had this thing about you. You wanted to learn and to be better. I don't know if you specifically said that, but I sensed that.
SL: I remember that after I talked to you, I talked to Dhruv and he said, we really need to hire someone as soon as possible so you didn’t have a heart attack because you couldn’t do it all alone.
ML: [Laughs] I didn’t know that, but it was true, I was working really hard, all by myself.
SL: The beginning was crazy. I started out on-site at Mountain Jam, then we spent the first month on the road together. Then you went to Idaho, I went to the TSQ office in CT. Building a relationship was challenging, but from the start, I felt that you trusted me. What do you remember about that time? Was there something in particular that led you to trust me or helped to build that trust?
ML: I learned early on, when we were at Hunter Mountain, that if I asked you to do something, I didn’t have to go back and check it or worry about it because you had displayed from the beginning that you just get shit done and that really resonated with me. That was a good feeling for me because before that I didn’t have anyone. Not only did I have someone after that, but I had someone that was really good. I knew you were really good, but I just needed to get you the experience to get better. I knew at Hunter Mountain that this was going to be great.
SL: Our industry is one you live in vs work in (not a typical 9-5, spend all hours of the day together, travel together for long stretches, "go to war" together, etc.) do you think that makes it easier or harder to find a mentor?
ML: I always looked at it as easier. From a work standpoint, it made us stronger because we got to know each other so well. You knew I would get hot-headed and you would be the calm one on most occasions and we played the good-cop, bad-cop thing really well. On a personal side, I enjoyed getting to know you and our conversations. We talked a lot about work and that was helpful because I would always bounce things off you and strategize. In the beginning, we were not together in the office until I moved there, but I always thought it made us stronger. It brought us closer.
SL: I agree that it helped. We were together a lot and did a lot of traveling just the 2 of us, which enabled our relationship to grow faster than it would have if we were only spending time in the office. To me, our time together never felt forced. For example, when we were on the road we didn’t always do dinner together each night and that was OK. I didn’t feel that I had to entertain you as I sometimes did when traveling with others. Our personalities quickly meshed well together and that helped to build a relationship.
November 24: Join Sustainability and Behaviour Change Consultant, Livvy Drake, for this 1-hour online workshop where she will show you how behavior change principles can transform your marketing.
November 25: Members of the #Lights-on Venue Guide team are hosting a workshop for Venue Managers and others interested in learning more about reopening safely. This Venue Reopening Guide is a collaborative effort of live entertainment organizations and individuals that reviewed existing published materials and best practices to build a digital resource that venues and venue organizers can use to safely reopen.
November 26: Resonate is a music industry conference focused on industry training, business development, accessibility, and collaboration. Resonate is an open platform for music practitioners in Scotland and beyond to come together, discuss challenges and opportunities, and grow the industry for the benefit of all.
November 26: The Insights Alliance (Indigo Ltd, One Further and Baker Richards) present findings from the first wave of research from the Culture Restart Toolkit, a national audience & visitor sentiment tracker.
November 27: Janet Sellery (Sellery Health + Safety / Event Safety Alliance Canada) joins the Professional Associations of Canadian Theatres to chat about new health and safety resources for theatres. These include the Event Safety Alliance Reopening Guide - Six Month Update and the #Lights-On Venue Guide. They’ll touch on the status of the pandemic, public health guidance, operational lessons learned, and current challenges.