By Ariana Hwang
The late David Bowie once said, “I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.” He always knew that life was made infinitely better with music, transformation, and adventures into the unknown. Despite a tangle of 21 years of age and 2017 feeling like the world’s largest conundrum, I shared Bowie’s faith, that I could build an exciting life too. So in all of my pursuits of finding an activity to enhance my time, I was able to accept an opportunity to work at the world’s largest live entertainment company, Live Nation.
When I was hired as an intern, my induction began at Live Nation’s old Times Square office. While I started out there, I soon found myself moving with the company to their new space in Chelsea. That would mean me walking past Google and Chelsea Market three days a week, joyfully inhaling an entire food market from outside and watching fall transition to winter with pumpkins and haystacks to wreaths and white lights. Any New Yorker preferred quiet Chelsea over creepy imitation street characters, slow walking tourists, and claustrophobia.
Inside the stylish 100,000 square-foot office, I worked on a floor full of standing desks, a kitchen stocked with fruit and coffee, and walls lined with large portraits of Eddie Vedder, Miley Cyrus, Dave Chappelle, and other stars. Other floors had their own perks too, like a basketball court and a rooftop bar with an occasionally free Happy Hour, overlooking the Highline and Whitney Museum. Here, my list of work started to pick up.
The Job Itself
While working under the Clubs and Theaters division, the first objective was digitizing invoices. When invoices were over with, I was soon helping the advertising leg within the marketing department by creating Google Display Forms for different concerts. I noticed that it was quite important to put in specifics for targeting and CPM (Cost per thousand— the price of 1000 advertising impressions on a web page— another term I remembered from my Internet Marketing class), since marketers always have a specific budget and limited time for a display advertising campaign to run. So in order to improve our market reach and drive more conversions (a consumer buying tickets to the show in this case), I had to define the event’s audience further by inputting similar musicians or events to the one that was going to be advertised and by finding publishers: related sites and blogs to the event (for example, if it was a hip hop artist, I would look for hip hop blogs). This was called Whitelisting, and it’s commonly used in programmatic advertising and digital marketing.
On other days, I had to cut and distribute fliers at related locations throughout the city. I went to bars, smaller venues, and retail stores to persuade numerous business managers and owners to help distribute our event fliers to their customers. Never would I have discovered some of those places on my own, like a tiki bar called Otto’s Shrunken Head, a rockabilly thrift shop called Enz’s, and a skater bar called Beverly’s. And every now and then, I would sometimes help find these targeted locations as a part of our traditional in-person marketing tactic. This had me curious about how much Live Nation was focused on outdoor advertising. According to Redbooks Advertising, Live Nation’s most recent media spend for the “Outdoor” category was the 3rd largest—$1,648,068, with “US Internet – Search” and “US Internet — Display” being their first and second largest categories respectively.
Everything else I was assigned took place online. I had to update our music venue websites for Gramercy Theatre and Irving Plaza with artist bios, Youtube videos, and images through the sites’ back end. This was important to artist managers and our site visitors. Shows can switch venues, new supporting acts can be added, show times can be changed, or shows can be cancelled. Similarly, I had to ensure the graphic design team had the most updated promotional designs for the Irving and Gramercy PowerPoint slides that would be projected every night, to each concert’s audience during breaks between performing acts.
Alongside sites, email marketing and social media marketing was central to my work. Music Geeks was Live Nation’s weekly newsletter in which I provided subscribers with weekly giveaways to concerts. I helped choose giveaway winners and then sent them email notifications, which strengthened their loyalty to Live Nation and also influenced them to gain us other subscribers through referrals. Related to Music Geeks, I engaged with followers on social media posts with the Music Geeks, Irving Plaza, and Gramercy social accounts. I not only created posts to bring awareness of our promo codes, but had to like user posts that were geo tagged with our venues, and repost higher quality posts showcasing our events. This showed me that there was never a single day, social media wasn’t used from the marketing team.
Outside my 11-6 PM schedule, I worked for Baruch College’s Radio Station, WBMB. As a disk jockey, I assisted my boss with radio promotion, which involved announcing ticket giveaways and interviewing artists before their show dates. I spoke to rappers and bands, took my friends to shows for free with views from VIP, and almost had the chance to see a sold out show with SZA. I can’t complain about missing SZA though because I was able to dance on many nights to the Psychedelic Furs, Rich Chigga, Goblin, Willow Smith, and Jhené Aiko. On my first day I was even offered two 3-day wristband passes to New York’s Meadows Music Festival with headliners Jay-Z, Gorillaz, and Red Hot Chilli Peppers. That alone was one of the biggest highlights of this past summer. I once also worked backstage for a Joe Biden event at Lincoln Center and dropped off a bottle of Perrier-Jouët for Wendy Williams. But without a doubt, the best part of my internship was meeting other live music buffs and learning the ins and outs of marketing for a large music corporation.In the world of live entertainment, you will need a strong set of persuasion skills and a high appreciation for the arts. The industry keeps moving fast but it’s rewarding at the end of the day, since this is the kind of work that inspires first-time concert experiences and memories that last people a lifetime.