Love live music but crap at playing the guitar? Christian D’Acuna books the gigs at The O2 – yep that includes Beyonce and The Rolling Stones – and he started by helping out his mates’ bands at uni. Here’s why it’s a super-cool job (for anyone not already convinced) and how you can follow in his footsteps…
Firstly, Christian explains what a live booker actually is. “Big promoters like Live Nation ask for our availabilities – obviously with the O2, we have a packed diary – and our job is to make sure we get the best shows,” he explains. The promoter tells us which artists they’re looking to book slots for, and Christian and his team do a bit of “diary jiggling” (his words) before pencilling in the big names. “It’s also all about maintaining great relationships with the promoters and being aware of touring cycles and releases that are coming up to make sure we get the best artists we possibly can.”
Oh, and the perks are that he gets free tickets to the shows. “I think The Rolling Stones was the most exciting show I’ve been to – you could feel this buzz before they’d even started,” he remembers. “Just looking at the stage was exciting… it was shaped like lips. That was definitely a highlight!”
Fancy booking the biggest names in the industry? Here are Christian’s top tips on getting into live booking…
Get involved with live music – it doesn’t matter how, just do it
Christian used to be in a band when he was younger, and found he was doing all the organising. When he went to uni, he started helping out local bands and putting on gigs: “To get involved in the live side, go to as many shows as possible, volunteer at venues and help out at festivals so you’re aware of how it all works,” he advises. “The bigger the event, the more there is to it. If you’re doing a degree, get involved in the entertainment side of your university and speak to the people who book shows there. A lot of people became agents by booking gigs at uni and building up their contacts.” He also adds that, with the music industry, it’s best to try and get an “in” anywhere because then you can move around until you find the right job for you.
Work on your customer service and organisational skills
Stuck working as a cashier? While it feels like this has nothing to do with live booking, you’ll be learning how to interact with people – and this is a crucial part of Christian’s job. “The most challenging part of the job is when a promoter isn’t happy – you need to be a people person, able to smooth over difficult situations and solve problems,” he says. “How you solve an issue obviously depends on the situation – but anything can, and will, happen. Artists are not tins of beans, they’re human beings. For example, the comedian Micky Flanagan’s mum passed away before his slot so we had to scrabble about finding new dates, sorting it out as quickly as possible because comedy will have been the last thing he wanted to do at that point.”
Know the business and financial side of the music industry
Christian has worked a range of jobs within the industry – from festivals to the more admin-y, less glam roles. ” I started off managing bands and putting on shows to get to know people, then moved to London to do an internship at iTunes. This led to me working at the iTunes festival, but I also then got a job at the PRS foundation working on the royalties and the business side,” he says. “It’s good to know how it works – how certain radio stations pay more for certain tracks, how setlists for festivals work and how much money songwriters get for their work.” Being able to see the bigger picture will help you progress through the industry and get to where you want to be a lot faster. He then assisted two live bookers at The O2 before finally getting to his position – a good reminder to never feel like assisting is beneath you, regardless of how much experience you’ve had.
Consider a degree… but it’s not crucial
“I did a music management course at Salford uni because I was in a band at the time and wanted to learn how to organise everything,” Christian says, “but nothing matches experience and contacts. And you only get those contacts by getting out there and trying stuff for yourself.” He’s been gathering bits and bobs as he’s gone along, interning and volunteering and figuring out how to put on gigs and liase with promoters since he was a teenager; these aren’t skills you can learn in a classroom. So go on, offer your services to that new local band or consider setting up your own night – people always want a venue to gig at, so you won’t be short of bands clamouring for your attention…
If you liked this article, why not take a look at…
- How to get into the music industry: alternative routes
- Product Manager – sounds boring, but what if the “product” was Tinie Tempah?!
- How to cover a music festival