What I've learned after working behind-the-scenes in music for years
I’ve always had a deep love for music. Bands, live shows, and album releases – I fell in love with the whole scene. Because of this, I’ve journeyed down a road that resulted in wearing many hats within the music industry year after year.
Going to multiple concerts annually has a funny way of becoming very expensive very quickly. I knew I had to find a solution to make my love of going to concerts into a much more affordable endeavor. When the chance to start street teaming fell into my lap, it was almost too good to be true. In exchange for volunteering at shows, I was able to go to concerts and festivals free of charge. To me, it was the happy medium I had been searching for all along. I was able to work with bands, record labels, and companies I respected, while simultaneously cutting down the cost of concert tickets.
Not too long later, I started working as a music journalist and concert photographer.
I always had a keen interest in writing and photography, knowing it was something I wanted to pursue as a long-term career. Being able to merge my two passions was something I had always dreamed of, and I could hardly believe that I was getting this shot. It was the job I had always been after, and I felt mesmerized that it had finally come true.
From starting as a fan to working behind-the-scenes, I’ve seen two different perspectives. I was no longer simply a spectator going to see my favorite bands live.
Concerts became my office and my job.
Not too shabby if you really think about it. Through these experiences, these are a few lessons I’ve learned along the way.
1Bands are regular people, too.
Did you ever have posters of your favorite artist(s) scattered on your bedroom walls? Or have you ever waited in line for hours and hours to meet that same group? There will always be that one band that will bring out your inner fan girl (or boy). (Personally, Fall Out Boy has a way of bringing me back to those golden years.)
While there’s no shame in being a super fan, we can’t forget that bands are just like you and me. They may exist and pursue their careers in the public eye, but it doesn’t mean they don’t deserve the courtesy of privacy and respect. Treat them as you’d want to be treated – even if you’re secretly screaming and dancing on the inside. It’s entirely possible to still act professional without compromising the fact that you’re also a fan.
2It’s a smaller world than you think.
Have you ever heard of the six degrees of separation? As is the case with any industry, it is usually a smaller world than it appears to be on the surface. I’ve encountered many of the same faces as I’ve transitioned to different companies over the years. My advice: Don’t burn any bridges you’d later regret, because chances are you’ll be working with the same people again and again.
3Stop calling women groupies.
There’s often a negative stigma associated with women who attend concerts, reducing them to “groupies.” It’s a sexist stereotype reserved for female fan bases, and it’s one that seems hard to escape. I’ve been labeled as a groupie more than once, when in reality I was at the show doing my job. Despite hearing these comments from time to time, I’ve never let them stop me from pursuing what I love most. Whether performing in a band, working as a tech, selling merch, or just being a fan, we need to acknowledge that women are a key part of this industry — just as much as men are.
4This community loves what they do.
There’s always truth in the saying that if you love your job, it doesn’t feel like work at all. “Passionate” would be an understatement when it comes to describing those who work in the music industry. There are long hours, far distances, and a whole lot of dedication required in order to be part of this community. Despite any challenges, people genuinely love their jobs. That’s exactly how it felt and continues to feel to me.
The people you encounter may be strangers at first, but they will quickly become lasting friends. It doesn’t matter if you’re a fan, volunteer, roadie, or in the band itself — this community is a family, and I don’t think it’ll ever really change.