One of the most important pieces to music festival puzzles is the production. Over the last year I have become friends with one Okee OG, Brittany Fuller. She is just one of many rockstars involved in the behind the beats action, providing backline for shows and festivals all over the country. Brittany stays organized and dedicated to the task at hand regardless if she’s working, festing, or meeting up for other shenanigans. Without further ado, Brittany Fuller. Thank you for taking the time to speak with us.
Brittany Fuller: First, a brief description of what we do: Avatar is a backline rental company, meaning we provide the instruments that artists play at concerts & festivals. This includes amps, guitars/basses, keyboards, drums/percussion, DJ equipment, etc.
Festival Squad: Tell us a little bit about your current position at Avatar Events Group. How long have you worked there? How did you get involved in the music field?
Brittany Fuller: I started at Avatar in July 2013, so I’ve made it through 5 festival seasons with the company so far. I completed the music business program at UGA and the head of the program actually recommended that I apply for an internship here. They hired me on full-time after a month and I haven’t looked back since! Currently, I’m the Office Manager and the Head of Sales, Logistics, & Client Relations. I’m not the one on stage setting up and teaching the equipment, but it is my job to arrange everything for the event beforehand. I get to contact the bands and their management and production teams, I arrange our event schedules, and I handle all invoicing. Basically, it’s my job to make sure everything is set up to go as smoothly as possible when my team leaves for a show.
FS: I know y’all have worked with some festivals like Shaky Beats, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, and Imagine. Who does your company provide backline equipment for? Specifically concerts and festivals? If festivals, is it for the entire festival or just certain artists and stages? (Please elaborate.)
Brittany Fuller: When an artist is on tour, they either bring their own equipment with them or they arrange to rent backline at every stop (and sometimes they rent backline for a full tour as well). We are lucky enough to be the backline vendor for many music venues in Atlanta, including The Tabernacle, The Masquerade, Lakewood Amphitheater, etc. When an artist is coming to one of these venues and needs to rent their instruments, the venue calls us. We also get hired by different production companies to come and do events all over the country.
Unlike many backline companies, Avatar specializes in festivals. They’re definitely my favorite events to work on! We always get excited when festival season rolls around. This year, some of the bigger ones we’ve worked on include Sweetwater 420 Fest, Shaky Knees, Shaky Beats, Hangout, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, and Music Midtown. The biggest was definitely Lollapalooza, where we provided backline for over 50 bands. Festivals work similarly to a regular show at a venue, just on a much larger scale. If an artist needs to rent equipment, we provide it. Some come in with their own. Smaller stages will sometimes only request a house backline package, which is a predetermined set of instruments that every group plays. This is almost always true at EDM festivals, where each stage has a couple sets of DJ equipment that every artists uses (except the headliners, they generally request an exclusive set).
FS: I always wonder where you disappear to while we are at festivals and you’re working. Is it the same or similar tasks every festival?
Brittany Fuller: For me, it’s always the same. I spend months preparing for the festivals we work on, arranging details with the bands and the festival production teams that hire us. When the events finally come, I try to go and meet all of these people that I’ve been talking to. I go backstage and visit with my techs that are working the events. I check in with the stage and production managers to make sure everything is running smoothly, and to get feedback on what my team can do to improve the next year. I meet the management of the bands that we work with frequently and make sure they’re happy with the gear. Basically, I just try to represent the company and make sure that we’re providing the best service possible.
FS: While you are working at festivals, is there anything in particular that makes your job more difficult? Easier?
Brittany Fuller: Honestly, the hardest thing about working at festivals is leaving my crew! I love going to these events and enjoying the experience, so sometimes it’s difficult to stop dancing and go make my rounds. I’m so lucky to have a job that I’m this passionate about though. I may have to miss some artists I‘m excited to see, but I also get to look up at those stages and see the result of all of the hard work I’ve put in. It makes me so proud to see how much everyone around me is enjoying themselves, and to know that I helped make it happen.
FS: I can’t speak for festivals outside of Georgia, but some festivals here have issues with paying their bills on time, if at all. It has to be bad for business. Would you shed some light on the matter?
Brittany Fuller: It has definitely been an issue, and we have to be very careful about which new festivals we choose to take on. As the music festival trend grows, more and more new festivals are popping up. A lot of them underestimate how huge of an undertaking producing a festival is, and they don’t plan accordingly. When that happens, vendors like us don’t get paid.
FS: Lastly. If you see yourself still festing next year, are there any festivals you’re just absolutely interested in going to and why?
Brittany Fuller: Oh man, we just finished our own festival season and I haven’t even started to think about next year! I might be going to Decadence in Colorado. I really want to make it out to South by Southwest. I’d love to go and see the production at Ultra and Electric Forest. I heard great things about Middlelands. The company that created Bonnaroo and Coachella are starting a new festival in Denver that I definitely don’t want to miss. Of course, I’d love to make it out to Okeechobee again for year 3! The list goes on and on…