Megan is the definition of a total girl boss! She graduated high school in 2014, yet has a ton of experience under her belt already. Take a look at what she's been working on, learn a bit about tour managing, freelancing, and booking, and soak in all the advice you can!
How I started getting involved behind the scenes was Senior year of High School. I started interning at Woodrow Radio (KISS FM) in Appleton, Wisconsin. I am from Manitowoc WI and it’s a very small town so I kinda thought this was going to be something I was going to do just for credit to graduate, well I was wrong. The more I went to my internship the more I LOVED everything about it. I loved the concerts and running tents and having that “being in charge” feeling. I started to go on air, help run tents at Jingle Ball, and help run other events the station would have. Fast forward a year later and I started tour managing and booking shows, all DIY stuff nothing crazy but something to get me started and get into the “scene”. I now am still working up the music chain and am noticing how all of these steps helped me get to where I am today. I started working bigger festivals this last March (2017) and I know all my hard work is paying off, slowly but surely. I was a senior in high school (2013-2014) , and I went to a very small Catholic school that basically is all about following the norm and not going and doing what you love/dream to do. I would never look back.
What experience do you have?
Studio Jockey intern (3 years) (KISS FM)
Tour Manager, Freelance (4 years) (Belmont, Dingus., NoNeed)
Merch (4 years) (Belmont, Dingus., NoNeed, Spring Awakening, Warped Tour, So What!?)
Booking (Chicago, and Milwaukee) (3 years)
Promotional Freelance (3 years) (The Syndicate)
What are your favorite parts of your jobs?
My favorite part of Tour managing (I’m still low on the tour manager food chain) is I get to be part of the crew that helps get the show on the road and make sure things are running smoothly. I love knowing I’m the person people want/need to come too. I am very personable but also I know how to run my ship.
My other favorite job is selling merch. I love talking to the fans and see them beam with excitement as the night goes on. I hate having a moody merch guy/gal (we all get moody but some are moody all the time) I like knowing the fans have a great experience during the show and before/after while shopping for merch.
When you started doing the "DIY" tour managing/booking, where did you go/who did you talk with to learn how to do those things at first?
After I worked a couple different events through Kiss FM I got to meet a lot of different crew. I watched tour managers do their job from what I could at my tent and tried to talk to as many people as I could. Being so young I wasn't taken seriously and was kinda just "in the way". After I graduated I had way more experience (obviously haha) and then started messaging bands I saw growing pretty rapidly, that's when I met Belmont. After that I just networked and am still networking and working anything possible. 2017 has been my best year, I have worked -SXSW, So What?!, Spring Awakening, and went on my first national tour.
What kind of skills are good to have if you're interested in tour managing?
You have to be in control of yourself because you're in charge of literally everything and people rely on you. You have to be organized. I also think having a great personality helps, I've met pretty sour crew members and it makes me sad. People would kill for your job, be happy!
What is a typical day like on tour?
I've experienced DIY tours as a TM and merch so it's very different than a big arena/ or 2,000 cap venue. I wake up in the van/ hotel/ house we are crashing at, I'm almost always the first one awake to get everyone up and showered and get in the van and on the road. Usually the van ride is either half of us sleeping or hanging out. I'm usually driving or advancing shows and answering emails. We get to the venue go inside and see what's up for load in and soundcheck. We will load in and hang in the green room or go get food somewhere and walk around. I'm usually selling merch during the show. After the show we settle with the promoter and load out. It's pretty much the same each night unless they have interviews and such. It's the best job.
Can you give a brief overview or lil' job descriptions for tour managing, booking, and promotional freelancing?Tour Managing- In my eyes is basically a babysitter for grown adults! You make sure the musicians and crew are all accounted for, everyone is where they should be when it's show time, and load in/out. You are making sure everyone is getting paid, advancing shoes, settling shows, hotels are booked up, bank drops are done. Everyone comes to you for an answer.
Booking- I've book shows at SubT, The Metro, Centennial Lanes in Chicago area. I usually book for bands that I work with or bands coming from out of state. Booking is super easy if the band you're booking has a decent draw. The hardest part really is getting the draw if these bands are smaller. Booking isn't something I was interested in, it's more I had to do it to be taken seriously and get my name out there.
Promotional Freelance- I get hired to promote different bands and hang posters, go and give hand outs for the Syndicate. It's a great company to start with and if anyone is looking to get their foot in the door that's the place to start!
For people who are starting off and might be working with smaller or local artists/bands and not getting paid, when should they start asking for compensation? Is there a certain point when it's no longer "just for the experience" and you should starting turning down unpaid offers?
Hmm, this is a hard question. I've been growing my resume and gaining experience for almost 5 years. I worked for free for SO LONG. I just recently started getting paid, isn't that crazy! Once you know your skills are polished at the level you're at, after you know you're the best asset to have, that's when you start talking about getting paid. If you're being strung along by a band/artist and they aren't treating you right, LEAVE! You will find people who want to work for you and be a team together. Know your worth but also know that smaller DIY bands can't pay much, just be reasonable and keep that in mind. Just talk to each other, you're a team!
What were some of the most crucial steps for you to get to this point in your career?
1. FIGHTING AND STANDING UP FOR MYSELF.
I have worked with some bands that have used me for all I have and then dumped me to the side of the road. I was the one getting them shows, getting them on shows on time, making sure everything was in order --( minus playing the instrument and the artistry) I let that go on SO long, but it made me confident and opened my eyes. It’s a teamwork effort, not just a one man show.
What difficulties have popped up in your career and how have you worked through them?
Like I said above, I have done a lot for bands I worked with, with little in return. I never asked for money unless I knew that they could afford to give me a little something. I would book, make sure equipment/ members were on time, paying every band, and selling merch ( at local shows not just on tour). I used to work with local bands more on a full- time level with no pay and a lot of time off from my jobs. I now know that I need to be paid for my work and not just get walked on because i’m a woman that needs to build up my references/resume/networking skills, you name it, I had the excuse to justify being used. After I got rid of that mindset with a little help of mentors I aimed to work three big festivals and a two-month tour. Never let ANYONE step on your work ethic or self esteem.
Why is equality in this industry important to you?
I have faced a lot being a female in the industry. This industry is very sexist, say what you will but it is. I have had bands tell members of bands I was working with directly ask them if I was sleeping with a member to get to where I am, or who am I dating to get on these festivals/ tours. News flash.. NO ONE.. I am working my butt off for MYSELF. I am so against anyone attacking females in this industry because everyone works together and it’s always a team effort not just one person. (don’t put down the kick-ass lady on your crew.) I still am being told I would be a great addition to their teams as a TM/merch but almost everytime they go with a (male) friend that is just looking to travel, which is fine but *a reminder to look at these ladies resumes and give them a shot, if you have the chance.*
What advice would you give to other females interested in similar careers?
1. Don’t let anyone tell you, you’re not good enough to be in this industry. Keep trying.
2. Work your ass OFF, you have a lot of people applying to the same job you are, make your resume shine BRIGHT.
3. Be friendly but also stand your ground.
4. Be HAPPY, these will be the best years of your life. A lot of people can’t say they work big festivals, travel, and get paid.