For many concert production companies, finding entry-level employees with some sort of experience in the business has never been an easy task.
With the introduction of a new certificate program, however, University College and Extension Services (UCES) at California State University, Long Beach is hoping to give a boost to employers and potential employees interested in producing and promoting live events.
"The fact is most of the people who produce live events such as concerts have often learned the business through on-the-job experiences and by trial and error," said Penni Wells, director of the entertainment studies programs for UCES. "Outside of that, there really has been nowhere for people to learn about how to do this kind of work."
Until now, that is. UCES at Cal State Long Beach has joined forces with two Orange County entities that have experience putting on concerts--a radio station, The New Mix 95.9-FM, and a concert venue, The Crazy Horse--to offer a ground-breaking certificate program in Concert Production and Promotion.
Meeting on six successive Saturdays, program participants are learning the basics of producing live events, including site selection and negotiation, artist selection and negotiation, marketing and promotion, budgeting and legal issues, and security, sound and staging for the event.
To receive their certificate, participants must also take part in the program's final project--interning at a live event at the new Crazy Horse site in the Irvine Spectrum, a 588-seat facility that just recently opened.
"I've never heard of a program like this being taught before. We think it's great," noted Craig Carpenter, program director for The New Mix 95.9 who has been in the radio business for 25 years. "There are so many different venues in Southern California and so many people interested in this kind of work. This type of program just makes a lot of sense to me."
Because there is no other program like it, Wells and her staff have had to create the curriculum for the program. But, that is nothing new for this group.
"A number of programs we offer in UCES, particularly in entertainment studies and animation training, didn't exist anywhere before we created them," Wells explained. "So, we go to the people who are already doing the job and we find out what it is they do on a day-to-day basis. Then, we build a curriculum from their experiences."
That is where The New Mix 95.9 and The Crazy Horse come in. Wells has enlisted the expertise of these music industry companies to help design the program's curriculum. Additionally, she has called on some of their professional staff to help teach the series of classes.
Elizabeth Sterling-Royce, sales and marketing consultant for The New Mix 95.9, is the program coordinator. In addition, to her extensive marketing background, she has interfaced with club owners and artists' representatives in promoting live concerts.
Other instructors for the program include two on-air personalities at The New Mix--Angel and Randy "Ranman" DeWitt. British born Angel is only in her fifth year in the United States, and she is one of the most popular DJs in San Diego. DeWitt, also a production director, comes from a family of radio and television broadcasters and has been on the air, involved in commercial production and been hosting local events since 1994.
From the venue side of the business, Brad "Paco" Miller, manager and concert coordinator for The Crazy Horse, will also be an instructor. Miller has worked for more than 10 years in restaurant and concert venues in the southwest, including opening "Diamond Back" in Arizona, the premier concert venue in the state.
"In my opinion, there are not enough people out there who can do this kind of work. Hopefully, this program will lead more people into the industry and get some new blood excited about the industry," Miller stated. "Concerts will always be around. So, the more people who are trained to do this kind of work the better."
Wells, Carpenter and Miller believe the program can fill an important need for concert production companies looking for some kind of experience in potential employees.
Nothing illustrated that need better than the call Wells received at the end of the summer.
Even before the class began in mid-October, Wells got a telephone call from Eleni Tsimadisis, manager of administration for human resources for Universal Music Group, which was part of the Universal Amphitheatre but recently became House of Blues Concerts. The manager had heard about the program from employees who attended a recent trade show, and she wanted to know if Wells could provide her with any interns.
Wells told Tsimadisis that classes hadn't even begun yet and also explained the program to her in more detail. Then, after the discussion, Wells got the woman to agree to be on a panel on the last day of class to talk about employment opportunities in the business.
"The woman from (House of Blues Concerts) said the problem with most interns, even if they are in college, is that they think it sounds real glamorous to go to work for Universal, but they don't realize the type of work they'll start out doing or how hard it is," Wells recalled. "They prefers interns who are older, more experienced and have had other jobs and training. So, she said when we have graduates from our program, she would love to hear from them."
It seems the profile of the first 15 students currently taking the program fits the profile of the interns House of Blues Concerts is looking for.
Wells said she has a woman from Culver City taking the program who already works as a concert promoter for her own little venue in Culver City. She wants to know more about the legal and logistic aspects of the business.
Another student enrolled is an accountant who used to do concert promotion activities in college. Now looking at the second half of her life, she would like to go back to doing what she enjoyed doing in college.
There are also a couple of people enrolled who work for large, non-profit agencies and are in charge of putting on live events to raise funds for their organization. Wells said they enrolled to get a better handle on what to look out for when producing and promoting these events.
The Concert Production and Promotion Program will be offered twice a year--in the spring and the fall. Wells is looking to expand the program as more opportunities arise, including looking at other event venues for field-study opportunities and their managers as guest speakers.
For more information about the Concert Production and Promotion Program, call Wells at 562/ 985-4486.
EDITORIAL NOTE: The final project for participants will be a February concert at the new Crazy Horse location in the Irvine Spectrum. That concert date has not yet been selected. Interested media may contact Rick Gloady, director of media relations at Cal State Long Beach, at (562) 985-5454.
Public Affairs Offices/Campus News