Another week, another interview! We’re loving all the incredible insight we’ve received so far on these amazing unsung heroes of the music world. Who knew all the unique things people get up to when working behind-the-scenes?! It’s been so cool taking the time to break down a bit of everyone’s daily routines and see what really goes into making bands, artists, and our favorite live shows into what we experience as fans.
This week we’re chatting with merchandise manager and VIP coordinator Allison Lanza. Check down below for all the interesting bits of her life and job she shared with us!
First, thank you for taking the time to chat with us. We’re really excited about it. We want to take some time to focus on YOU, so let’s start with an introduction. Can you tell us about you and your start within the industry?
Thank YOU for reaching out to me! My name is Allison Lanza, and I am a
[During] my senior year I took a class about touring and promoting live events, and I ended up hitting it off with my professor, Jen, who was the Tour Accountant for the Vans Warped Tour. She caught me completely off guard when she asked me to be her assistant on the 2017 tour right after I graduated! Since that summer, I’ve pretty much made my living off of full-time touring.
What is your current job title and what does that fully entail?
Right now I am enjoying a little bit of time off the road, but my most recent job description (and I’ll reprise this role come June) is VIP Representative for the Kidz Bop World Tour. I am the onsite rep and do onsite customer service, but I am also in charge of advancing details with the venues, hiring local assistants, booking catering, planning our VIP parties, running the meet and greets, etc.
“Woah, there are people out there that look up to me because I’m doing what they want to be doing”
Image: Chelsea Gresh
Along with your official job title and description, what else have you branched out and helped bands with?
Prior to taking on this most recent VIP Representative role, I was mostly a Merchandise Manager. I love that role because you get to interact with pretty much everyone who attends the show, rather than just those who buy the VIP packages. I love inventory and numbers in general so I always enjoy [it] when I get to do merch on tour. My first professional touring experience was when I was the Accounting Assistant on Warped Tour, though, and I learned a LOT from that role. There was a lot of money coming in and out of that office all day every day.
The year after I got to be a touring rep for The Entertainment Institute also on Warped so I got to help run the backstage workshops that select bands on the tour were offering. Aside from [the] touring roles I have been involved with managing smaller bands and artists, as well as publicity, photography, and social media management. I’ve really just tried my hand at anything that I can that doesn’t involve having musical talent (I, unfortunately, have none).
What is the craziest thing you’ve had to take on that is not within your job description?
I used a day off on the last leg of KB shows to re-create show jackets for two of the kids as they were growing out of them and we needed them ASAP. Before I wanted to go into music, I wanted to be a fashion designer so to get to combine my love for sewing and concerts was really awesome! So it was a little crazy for me to think that a piece I was working on would go into the show, but overall it made me realize that maybe I should think about eventually moving into a wardrobe role!
If you were to give advice to someone looking to pursue this as a full-time career, what would you tell them?
If you want it badly enough, you can do it. Keep in mind that the road life is not as glamorous as you think it is- your relationships and friendships back home are likely to suffer, and you’re probably going to pay a lot of money for your life back home (car, rent, etc) that you won’t get to see all that much. BUT the pros certainly outweigh the cons. If you are looking to tour for a living, take any opportunities you can get. Start local! If you work with small artists, you get to be a lot more hands on, and as they get bigger, if you’re loyal, they’ll likely take you along.
If you want to do merch, ask to be on the local sellers’ list at venues near you. If they need a seller, they may contact you! Join Facebook networking groups and contact about any local openings. The more you work, the more your name gets out there- this industry is mostly about networking and your name will get passed along for job opportunities more than you’ll submit your resume.
But most of all, my biggest advice is to try your hand at a little bit of everything. In college, I interned at a management company, a booking agent, the marketing department at Live Nation, a venue, a social media marketing agency, and more. This made me realize what I did and did not want to do for a living, and it helped me have a better understanding of the way that the live music industry works.
“If you want it badly enough, you can do it.”
Image: Matty Vogel
If your job did not exist, what impact do you think that would have on the industry and how would it function instead?
VIP is kind of an interesting component to a live show because it’s not necessary to a concert in the same way as most other parts of the live show, and at times its existence can be kinda controversial. Without sound guys, musicians, techs, tour managers, etc, the show will not exist. Merch is something that will also always be around because it is always evolving and has always been a moneymaker for bands.
VIP is a little different. There are artists who refuse to have VIP experiences as they view them almost as elitist — your customers have to pay more for VIP. Plus, if the demand for VIP isn’t there, you’re not going to have a VIP package. But at the same time, if there IS demand, VIP is an added bonus for super fans- it could be exclusive merchandise, exclusive opportunities, one-on-one experiences with an artist… the possibilities really are endless, and it’s extra money in an artist’s pocket which allows them to keep touring, making money and keep pleasing fans.
Has there been a solid moment in your career where you fully realized how important your position is and what impact you have on the consumers and fans of a musician or band?
When I was touring with Nothing But Thieves, I met this girl who is a big fan of theirs, named Jon. She reminded me a lot of myself at her age, she would wait outside in line for shows for hours, make friendships because of the band, but she would also often come up to my table and message me on social media about wanting to work in music.
I used to do the same thing when I was her age so I took her under my wing a little bit, and I brought her out to shadow me every time I was in LA, and I got to hire her for a show last year which was her first paid music job! And now she’s blossomed into a great social media manager and recently started as a College Rep with Universal and is absolutely killing it! That was one of my first moments where I was like “Woah, there are people out there that look up to me because I’m doing what they want to be doing” and I was literally in their shoes less than 5 years ago.
My job with KB is really rewarding as well, because a lot of the people who are attending our shows are little kids who are going to their first EVER concert. I will always remember the impact my first couple shows had on me, so I always hope that by helping to provide an amazing experience to a concert goer that they’ll keep going to shows and music will impact their lives in a positive way.
“I love that role (merch manager) because you get to interact with pretty much everyone who attends the show, rather than just those who buy the VIP packages.”
Image: Ana Massard
Finally, as we’ve said, bands create ripples of all sizes and we’re truly fascinated by it. However, we all know they couldn’t do it alone and we’ve loved focusing on you and how you’ve impacted our experience as consumers and fans of music. Can you shoutout two or three people who are also part of the behind the scenes that you think deserve more recognition?
There are so many really awesome people I could name but I think I want to give a little shoutout to a few people working in less obviously thought of jobs in music and entertainment! My co-worker and good friend Kelsie Jeffords is the touring choreographer for the Kidz Bop Tour. Francesca Fronzaglio is an Account Manager at Second City Prints and does a lot of work to make sure bands consistently have the right amount of merch for their tours. Addie Whelan runs Beyond The Stage Magazine (among a few other entertainment-related projects)! Lastly, Steph Elkin is a Partner Operations Project Manager in Curation at Pandora and has worked on some pretty neat projects over there.
Do you know someone in the industry who deserves recognition and you think would like to chat with us? You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “Behind the Band” or send us a tweet @TheHoneyPop!
Curious where this began? Click here to read the article that started it all!
Interested in finding out more about what happens Behind the Band? You can check out our entire segment here!
Featured Image Source: Andreea Farcas for TheHoneyPOP.com