Inside the Mind of a Music Industry Professional [Exclusive Interview]

Photos taken by Don Idio

Being involved in the music industry is an amazing opportunity. It gives you an inside look behind-the-scenes, and you get to meet amazing people who share the same passion you do. Since you’re on Festival Squad, it’s safe to guess you may have thought about learning more or getting involved in the industry one way or another, whether it be a side-gig or something more serious. 

Being a Milwaukee local, I spend a lot of my time going to shows produced by Lex Martin Presents, a music promotion and event production company that was born from the disestablishment of React Presents’ Wisconsin branch. Although Lex Martin Presents is a bit shy of one year, it has contributed to notable inaugural events from 2018 such as Jawbreaker Fest and Radiance NYE. During the rest of the year, the shows produced are typically held at The Miramar Theatre with Brew City Bass. To get some insight on the inner workings of the music industry and how someone could get his or her foot in the door, I sat down with the executive assistant of Lex Martin, Emily Hui.

Festival Squad: What have you done to put yourself in the role you are in today?

Emily: My journey in the music industry has been quite adventurous. I started going to shows very frequently, and during one show I saw a familiar face from high school who was promoting for React Presents Wisconsin. He was looking for people to help him flyer for shows around town to spread the good word, and I obliged. I started promoting hard on social media, making clever and witty posts. The head talent buyer of React Wisconsin at the time caught wind of the posts I was making and asked if I would like to manage the social media pages. From there, I started taking on more responsibilities (advancing shows, hospitality/artist liaison, street team leader). It has been a slow journey, but rewarding. I guess what got me where I am today is my overall interest in the music industry and seeing all the different roles there that make events come alive and my love for music in general.

FS: What does an average week for you look like with Lex Martin Presents?

Emily: I’ll give you what a typical week looks to me when we have a show(s) that week. In the beginning of the week, I send out a ticket count to Brew City Bass (a sistering promoter) for all of our upcoming shows at The Miramar. That way, we are all on the same page and know how ticket sales are doing. I’ll usually scour the internet for content that could be used from our social pages to help promote our events. Ideally, I like to get posts scheduled out for a week, focusing on the shows that are that week or shows that are struggling. Some management companies or agencies will ask for ticket counts for their show with us periodically throughout the week so those emails get answered. A few days out before a show, the artist’s agent or management company will generally reach out to us to get the shows advanced. Advancing is the process of moving things forward logistically by exchanging important information in order for the DOS (Day of Show) to run smoothly. This includes contact info of the promoter, sound engineer, production and runner; flight arrival/departure information of the artist and set times. After everything is advanced, it’s showtime! Well, not quite yet. We arrive at the day of the show. Artists either arrive via bus or plane. If it’s by plane, I have to pick the artist up from the airport and take them to their hotel. More times than not, artists always want to sleep until soundcheck. I head to the store and get all the items they have on their hospitality rider in the meantime. Around 8pm, I drive the artist to soundcheck and drive them back to the hotel. Around 11pm, I drive them to the venue again before their performance. I usually am on standby and have to be on call for the artist if they need anything (i.e. more ice, alcohol, or put people on the guest list). After a smoothly ran show, the artist usually decompresses a bit in the green room and then I take them back to the hotel. If the flight isn’t too early the next day I’ll take them to the airport, but if it’s early we give them an Uber buyout.

“Passion is the best motivator.” -Emily Hui

FS: What are common challenges you face with your position?

Emily: Getting creative blocks. Sometimes, I have troubles coming up with creative posts to help promote our shows. If we have booked an artist before and they haven’t come out with any new music, it can be difficult because you don’t want to sound repetitive. Some silly challenges would be finding things on the artist rider. It’s a real hunt sometimes trying to find certain items. Some items are way out of the budget of the rider, but coming from an artist’s stand point it doesn’t hurt to try. Like, where does one find a life sized cardboard cut out of Betty White? Another challenge would be getting the advances out to the agencies and management teams in a timely manner. If we have two artists that are booked from two different agencies, one team might be on top of things; the other, you just have to sit around and wait for a reply, while the other team can get somewhat restless on waiting for a response.

FS: What are some misconceptions about what working in the music industry is like?

Emily: The music industry is a glorious place to work in, but it isn’t all glitz and glam. Social media can definitely makes things look a lot different than they seem. People don’t see the hard work that these artists put in to get to where they are over night. A lot of the times “emerging artists” have been producing music close to decade until they become popular. Another misconception would be that if a show goes on without a hitch, doesn’t mean that we didn’t have any problems before the show. For example, if an artist has a flight delay and they might not arrive until minutes before they go on stage. It’s not always a party either. A lot of the times artists have early flights and just want to go to the hotel and nap for a couple hours before soundcheck, and then after the show just go back and sleep because a lot of the artists are sleep deprived from traveling.

FS: How do you adapt to the constantly changing music trends?

Emily: I try and stay current with the changing music scene by listening to anything and everything. I look stuff up on blogs, SoundCloud, and Spotify. I also look on SoundCloud to see who certain artists follow because they are usually in the know sooner than the rest of us common folk. On Alex’s [Lex Martin Presents Talent Buyer and Owner] end, he has agents that he has worked with in the past that hit him up and let him know availability of certain artists and what new artists they represent. Looking up music festival lineups and listening to any artists that I haven’t heard of before helps. Music festivals generally try and put artists on the lineup that they think will have a good year after festival season or hope that they blow up before the music festival happens.

“Without passion for the music, I don’t think I would be where I am today. Music is something that I believe in, and it’s easy to get behind something you believe in. I believe that it’s an awesome force that can bring people together, make people forget about their troubles for a couple of hours or even minutes, and I think that’s beautiful.” -Emily Hui

FS: For those who are interested in entering the music industry from street teams, what do you look for when reviewing street team applications?

Emily: We generally look at submissions that look well put together and look like the applicant took time and consideration into answers. By that, I mean the proper usage of punctuation and grammar. Another thing we look for is how far the person’s reach is on socials. The more followers and friends the better; however, someone with 500 followers/friends might be more passionate or interested in the music scene than someone with 1,000, and that is something else we look for. An applicant interested in the music industry and looking for a way to get a foot in the door is far more likely to get added to the team.

FS: What is your biggest pet peeve when it comes to applications?

Emily: Not using proper grammar and punctuation. I feel like some people have an idea that just because this is a street team application, and not a real job application, they don’t have to take it seriously, but they totally should. If anything, this is great practice for a real job application! It’s nice to see that effort was put into it.

FS: How important is networking, and what advice would you give someone who recently moved to a new area and wants to get involved?

Emily: I definitely think networking is important in anything that you’re interested in. If you moved to somewhere new and wanted to meet new people that are into the same music, I would start on Facebook and start joining any music groups or communities in your area like EDM Milwaukee and EDM Chicago. Another way to network is to look to see who the promoters are that are throwing the events you attend and start asking them if they need any help with promoting shows. A simple promoting job can easily turn into a bigger role with the company.

FS: Post-acceptance, what are some things you believe makes a street team member stand out?

Emily: Some ways to stand out on the street team is by being consistent with posts and doing what’s expected, like making a post about a show announcement. Having a talent in the arts, like photography or graphic design work, is always a plus. Passion is the best motivator, and I think it is easy to see if street teamers are really passionate through their posts on social media and how much time they put into helping promote events.

Learn more about Lex Martin Presents and its upcoming shows here!

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