By Paris Watson
If you told me five years ago that I would have a career in the music industry this early on, I probably would have laughed. If you told me five years ago that I would be called to work on one of the largest world tours of 2022, at 22 years old, I would have known you were lying. By no means is the path of the music industry an easy one, but it has for sure been a notable journey so far.
Growing up, everyone knew of my obsession for music. Amy Winehouse and Mumford & Sons, without a doubt, were my favorite artists; and the Grammy’s were my Super Bowl. Growing up, I was always involved in music classes. I also got involved in my high school’s broadcast and video production program to learn the ins and outs of audio recording, live broadcasts, interviewing techniques, and film. I was reaching in every direction, not knowing where it would take me. I was certain that no matter what people had to say, I was going to college to learn the music industry and hopefully make a career out of it.
I’m lucky to have had a good bit of industry experience so early in my career. I know none of this would have been possible if it wasn’t for my mentors along the way and people taking a chance on someone so young at the time. Right out of high school, I interned at City Winery in their music marketing position. My boss there later led me to a 30-day externship with the Bonnaroo Music Festival.
It truly changed everything for me. I was introduced to a world I never considered previously and resulted in many paid festival gigs for years to come. I can trace back a lot my industry friends/family today, from my first year at Bonnaroo, which is amazing to me.
After Bonnaroo, I wanted to get my feet wet on the artist management side of things. I was given a wonderful opportunity to work with Rico Brooks at Adella Thomas Management. This was another unforgettable experience that put me on the front lines of a lot of action at the company. I realized that although artist management might not be my first home in this industry, the constant movement and speed at which everything was moving, was something I was extremely attracted to.
As I freelanced throughout college, I kept picking up cool projects. I was able to work with my professor, Andrea Stolpe, to help her build out a songwriting retreat company, which truly helped me tie my skillsets together.
Later, I worked for a vendor and concession company, focusing on the ins and outs of food and beverage, in hopes to better understand the money trail of music festivals and live events. Fast forward several months later and I got a call I would have never imaged getting so early in my career. I got a call to join Coldplay’s “Music of the Sphere’s World Tour” and I think for the first time in a long time, I thought to myself, you’ve got a shot at this whole industry thing, kid.
Navigating this world has been a challenging one at times, but I’ve learned a lot. My number one rule since day one has been to never budge on my morals or ethics. I’m grateful to have mentors who have demonstrated this time and time again. It has been a nice reminder in the toughest of decisions. Trusting your gut isn’t going to result in a career ending sentence. If anything, people will respect you more when it’s all said and done. Some other things I try to remember day to day:
- Constantly challenge yourself. The second you’re comfortable is the second you stop learning.
- No job is above you. You can take something away from every environment. If you don’t that’s on you.
- Always learn from the generation before you. You have to ask questions!
- Make sure you’re in the room with the best people. (from a moral and respectable perspective…not clout) You want to learn from the best people.
- Your reputation is everything in this industry. The world is too small. Don’t become that person that people don’t want to work with or be around.
- Take care of and love the people you work with. They’re all you’ve got sometimes when you’re on the road and personal life gets dicey.
- Give back to your mentor who helped you, and pass the baton and mentor others who are in a position you were in just not too long ago.
- Stay involved in multiple projects…don’t get trapped in one bubble. There are so many ways of getting the same thing done.
- Ask yourself “does this opportunity get you closer to your end goal?”
I’ve realized I’m not the only one in my generation who thinks this way, which is quite comforting. My time in college, and out in the field has really given me confidence in my generation in this industry. I think the people I was on tour with were also gleaming examples of what is soon to come to the surface. The importance of sustainability across the board is something that I think is finally getting the attention it deserves. As the demand in live continues to compound, we cannot forget about the people behind the scenes and the artists on stage. From crew, artist, and an environmental impact stand-point sustainability is crucial.
I’d like to think at this point in my career every next gig is the career highlight. You know…hopefully things are trending upwards ad not down. So I’m very excited for what’s to come. I think what lies ahead, is a nice pivot, but closer aligned to that end goal I was talking about earlier, and for that, I could not be more grateful to where the journey has brought me thus far.
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