What Jobs Exist at a Venue?
Concert venues contain many different but interconnected jobs, and these jobs can be examined under two categories: facilities department and live department. The Facilities department is responsible for all the work that is needed on the show day. The live department deals with planning and promoting the show.
The jobs that exist at a venue crossover with the jobs that exist on a tour very well that for someone who is looking to get into touring or someone who wants to get off the road but still wants to be involved in the music industry, working at a venue can be a very informative experience.
Regardless of the job, there are so many benefits from just existing in a venue. It helps to understand how a tour and a venue function in terms of working together. It helps to understand why the door times are important and so on. As the same things are repeated over and over at a venue, it becomes easier to learn the job and realize what works and what does not work. Once everything that is going on at a venue is understood, it becomes a lot easier to communicate with people, respond to different demands of different people, and adapt to the environment. It also makes it easier to know how to deal with anything that comes up and to see the repercussions of your actions. At the end of the day, deeper knowledge in any part of the industry results in being a better person at any job.
Making Local Connections
Another advantage of working in a concert venue is the fact that it is a place to meet a lot of people from the industry. People in the industry may be able to offer life-changing opportunities to those who are doing a good job. All those big and small connections are significant because this is how networking works and networking is the key.
For someone who is new to the industry, starting jobs at a venue include: production coordinator, VIP jobs, security jobs, box office, and stagehand.
The production coordinator for the venue oversees the scheduling and the human resources of the local stagehands while the production manager oversees the entire production side of the tour. They are responsible for anything from the onboarding stagehands to setting up and overseeing the activations. The production manager takes care of the show inside, however, the production coordinator basically does the production manager’s job but for the specific smaller activations.
When it comes to a venue, the word ‘production’ is associated with everything from the downstage back of the house. So, a production coordinator overarches and sees everything back of the house. Multitasking and problem-solving skills are highlights for being a production coordinator, and they need to understand cause and effect very well.
The VIP has grown tremendously in the last five years from occurring once every twenty tours to every other tour, so the VIP job has become very important. The VIP person sets up the VIP area for the artist and fan gatherings. A lot of VIP jobs on the touring side are sourced out to the third parties that specialized in VIP activations. So, it is very often that a venue works with a third party to do a meet and greet or red carpet.
Even if there are no activations, the VIP person still deals with the guest lists and anything that comes up on a tour that is not associated with the public. Anything that is backstage, therefore, is VIP. The VIP department works hand in hand with event managers to fulfill all the needs whether it is from sponsorship or an artist request.
When a venue gets radio shows or award shows in, the red carpets and the post-show parties become a big deal because those are entire activations in themselves. They are their own standalone events, so the venue’s VIP manager gets to play the role of the event manager where they are overseeing all the VIP activations.
Contrary to popular belief, security is not about fighting people but about situational awareness and understanding human interactions. The security works right next to all the players of a tour. The person the event manager is coordinating with, even before coordinating with the tour manager, is the security manager of the tour. Because the venue staff knows their building the best, they create escape plans and give the information to the artist’s security manager. The artist’s security manager’s job is to facilitate everything that the tour manager has asked for.
Almost all the artists these days who are touring at an arena level have one to three security managers with them if not more. The event manager talks to the artist’s security manager to figure out all the positions they need and then talks to the venue security manager about the venue side of things to make sure that all the security positions are filled.
The venue securities are in positions where they guard the backstage door, artist’s dressing room door, or guard the stage. If somebody who is not supposed to be backstage is backstage, that means the security guards failed their job; and if that somebody got stopped that means the security guard is good at their job.
It is easy to get noticed as a security guard and picked up for a tour because the touring side pays close attention to the security and their eyes are physically on the security guards. Being a security guard, therefore, is not about how big and bad security personnel are, it is about how they de-escalate situations and foreshadow when things are going bad and what is gonna come off. Although it is a very complex job with large repercussions, the chances are high for a venue security guard to be noticed if they excel at their job.
The box office personnel take care of ticket sales, guest services, and guest interface, so they are coordinating with the customer and they are also coordinating with the artist’s camp and the promoter. Learning box office is very applicable when it comes to building a show because everything about a show eventually is based on how many tickets have been sold and it is the basis of all things touring.
Stagehands are the hired labor to set up and tear down all the specialized equipment: unloading trucks, building stages, building lighting rigs, building audio rigs, load-in, and load-out, cleaning the stage, etc. Therefore, being a stagehand means learning how production works.
It is a very common question for those who want to stop touring where they will direct the skills that they have acquired while touring. Coming from the touring world, one might be able to start on a job that is a little bit more complicated and need some prior knowledge.. Working at a venue is a great way to take those skills from the road and directly apply them to jobs like production management, operations management, event management, marketing, booking, etc.
Any position on a tour is well rounded for the jobs listed and a touring person can directly lead into these positions. However, when getting into these positions, it should be noted that this is very much like a corporate gig where there are supervisors, coordinators, managers, senior managers, directors. The higher someone goes up the chain, the broader their obligations are.
To be a production manager, for instance, one has to know what they are doing, so it is a great position to come in off-road after being a tour production manager or a tour manager, and even doing tech work on the road.
The event manager’s job is to be a conduit between the tour and the venue. Tours are designed to fit in trucks, move on the road, and fit in multiple different buildings. All the different aspects of the tour come through the event manager, and the event manager distributes all the information to all the departments within the building. This way, the tour only has to talk to one person, and it prevents confusion.
Event manager oversees everything about the show from top to bottom which means the event manager works along with every department in the building. It is a very big-picture job that requires a lot of knowledge and different skills.
Every venue needs a booking manager and most venue’s general managers are usually their head bookers. Booking managers work with promoters and they are managing the venue’s calendar. They have a list of different acts who are in different stages of trying to confirm the dates, so booking managers coordinate and manage all the relationships with different promoters to figure out who is playing when. Booking managers also manage the deals. Therefore, they are in charge of the overall success of the venue because the number of shows they bring in is going to correlate with how successful the venue is.
The marketing manager works hand in hand with the booking department and together they are like a record label for a venue when it comes to coordinating and promoting a show. There is usually a marketing budget where the venue has to spend a certain amount of money for marketing the shows so that they hold up their end to the obligation of selling tickets. Marketing managers also work directly with photographers and any other personnel that come into the building on a marketing level.
The operations personnel are the people who coordinate all maintenance for the building and who physically build the stage, set the tables and chairs, set the walk-through metal detectors, paint the building, etc. It is a really good way to understand how a building works, how to build a stage, and when the right piece of equipment needs to be used.
Inside the operations department, there is a building engineer who is in charge of all the HVAC systems and heating/cooling boilers. It is not a job that can be found on the road, but it is another position that exists at a venue that can be considered by people who are specialized in engineering.
Buildings are like a living and breathing entity and it needs to be taken care of. Operations and engineering people are the ones who make sure that the ‘heartbeat’ of the building keeps going.
Accountants for the venue are the ones that keep track of the money and accounting is a highly significant position for a venue. It is a great fit for people who have studied business and want to be involved in the music industry.
A house photographer is there to take photos on behalf of the venue. The content might be just for documenting the event or for the venue’s social media, or even capturing the setup and how things look when a tour comes for archival purposes. However, most tours are way too strict to allow house photographers, and a lot of it has to do with how the tour wants their show to be captured in a high definition manner to the point where those photos can be resold or used in any kind of way because a professional camera can produce some material that can be used in other ways that are out of the control from the artist’s camp. So, instead of the venue having their own photographer, the tour has somebody that is in their control to take the pictures. Those photos are then sent to the venue for use after being approved by the managers.
There are just a lot of different rules and a lot of different things at play and capturing images that can be used in the wrong way is a pretty big liability. Therefore, not having a house photographer at all is not a huge cost for a venue. However, if one wants to become a photographer for a venue, it is the same route as any other job which is just reaching out to the marketing department and booking department and applying for the position.
- Don’t hide anything from the venue. People on the road who aren’t transparent with what is going on are the people that make life so difficult because then the venue has to deal with stuff after finding out what is wrong. If they know ahead of time, they can help you more efficiently.
- You are exposed to a lot of private information when working backstage.. Keep the information private.
- A venue not only needs somebody who is capable of working hard but also needs someone who is honest and that they can trust.
- The key to all these jobs is not necessarily what you are doing but who you are working with. It is not just a one-person show for any of these jobs and you getting experience working with these people is the key.
- The hard part in the industry is creating connections because it takes a lot of effort.
- If you hear someone say “principle”, they mean the artist. It is a politically correct way to describe them.