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The Biz

Published: 2005/10/13
by Allen Ostroy

ROCKTOBER (and why?)

I don’t know who coined the phrase “Rocktober” but it’s accurate. During the month of October we’re all able to see just about every single one of our favorite bands. This is true for many reasons but one is that people still have money from summer jobs and the holiday season, which costs money, hasn’t kicked in yet. Managers/agents/bands know this and use it to their advantage. This brings up a question I have for you. Which two consecutive days of the year, not including holidays like July 3rd and 4th are the best days to play and why? Send me your answers to and the first winner will get free registration to my workshop at the Higher Ground on November 9th and tickets to see the Digable Planets that night (for more information go to Keep sending me your questions too and thank you for the kind words!


Allen is the President & CEO of Great Bay Entertainment Group and has over thirteen years of experience managing and booking bands, talent buying, and promoting multi-thousand person events. He has guided dozens of successful careers. His roster has included Strangefolk, Percy Hill, Moon Boot Lover, RAQ, and Averi to name a few.

Allen has been an active member of the University of New Hampshire Internship Program since 1994 and has provided hands-on opportunities for students that have helped launch careers in the music industry. In 2001, he created the Music Biz 101 Workshop and has presented it at many colleges and universities across the United States. In 2005, Allen became a feature writer on, the leading resource for information about the jamband music community, where he continues to write a monthly Q&A column based on questions submitted in advance by musicians and industry professionals.

Hello Allen,

My question is in regards to touring/live show jobs. I currently have an Industrial & Systems Engineering BS. This BS is generally geared more towards manufacturing jobs, but at the end of the day, the name of the game is throughput's—whether through putting a band from there home through the US and back or a fan from their house and into a seat or festival and back, etc…The idea is the same, I fundamentally have an education in logistics.
My goal is to translate my knowledge/passion towards almost any facet of music. As you could imagine, living for the music offers me no options but to work in a field related to what I love. My problem is that getting a foot in the door has become almost impossible. When people see Engineer they usually think I'm in the wrong place.

Not to take up any more of your time(thanks in advance), my questions are:
(a)What do you think might be some of the better suited jobs/fields for someone in my field?
(b)What publications might you suggest?
(c)Are you hiring;)

Any advice is appreciated. THANKS!!!



I think I would try to get a job with a local production company. You can start by setting up sound, lights, staging, etc for shows and will meet tons of people that way. A lot of guys who work for tours will also work at a production company while their artist is off tour. A buddy of mine who works for Avril Levigne also freelances with a couple of production companies. Someone like this will know of other gigs that open up on their crew and while on tour you meet guys on other crews, so there is enormous networking possibilities starting with a local production company. Without experience you won't be able to start as a tour manager but you can work your way up to a position like that. To get tour management experience you can start with a local band that may not have someone doing it. Combining this experience with production experience is extremely valuable and will help you when you hear about a job opening and can apply. Another thing you can do is to contact companies who are putting on festivals and "volunteer" to do whatever and you'll meet the people who are behind the scenes who many then be able to offer you a job at future gigs. If you don't feel comfortable doing that then go to a festival this summer and start talking to the crew and get someone to introduce you to the guys in charge. If you can get on a stage crew then you'll meet all the bands' crews.

For anything that has to do with live music I always point people to Pollstar. They will have a listing of production companies. I also would use the internet. I'm not really hiring right now but thanks for asking…and thanks for the questions. Keep in touch and let me know how it goes.

Good luck!

Hi Allen! First off I just wanted to say that this is an excellent idea for a
column and I've enjoyed reading all of your responses. They have been very
informative and highly useful to myself and certainly to many others. Here's
my question for you: I am going to be working for a fairly high profile
festival this summer in very close proximity with a lot of my musical heroes.
Although I've met a few of them at various points in the past it was more of a
fan-meeting-musician type of situation. Really I'm just kind of nervous about
being in the thick of it all and I really don't want to embarrass myself or
the festival by saying something stupid to somebody. I know that every
individual is different but what's the best way to go about talking to some of
the actual musicians? Do they generally like to discuss their music or are
other, more non-related musical topics more appropriate for discussion? Is it
ok to go up and introduce yourself to folks or should I just leave them alone?
I'm pretty good at connecting with people but with the amount of musicians
coming in for the festival sometimes it's a little overwhelming to think
about! Thanks for any insight you can provide me.

Best, David


Thanks for the kind words. I used to be very nervous about meeting some of
my rock heroes and have a bunch of stories of me being an idiot so you're
not alone. You're right about everyone being different but let me offer a
couple of general things I've noticed with musicians – a few "don'ts" if you
will. As with most things in life timing is everything. Don't try and talk
to anyone who is about to go on stage or has just come off stage. Before the
show they are focused on the show and afterwards they typically need a few
to unwind. In a festival situation the best time to approach a musician is
after they've played and are hanging out. If you are at catering don't walk
up and try to talk to someone who is eating but you can grab a plate and sit
down at the table with them and strike up a conversation that way.

As for what to discuss – you can generally talk to them about their music.
Most are more than happy to have their egos fed. Who isn't?

The key is to remember to treat them as people and not something more….it
makes them uncomfortable.

Have a great festival!


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