Tell us a little about yourself and your experience.
Justin Meers, main talent buyer for The 7 Venue for about 7 years. I also wore a lot of other hats at the venue including manager, FOH, productions manager, etc. But my main job was buying talent and scheduling events. With a venue our size I have done every job there, in one form or another.
What drove you to choose your career path?
I have always been a huge fan of music and going to live shows. I have a lot of friends that tour and play music, plus I have a lot of friends that are crew. I've always liked the "behind the scenes" kinda stuff so I think that helped me go in this direction with it. Rather than trying to be in a band.
How did you go about getting your job? What kind of education and experience did you need?
I kind of just fell into this. I have a ton of friends that play in bands and tour so I knew that side of it. When I met Tony Hart (the venue owner) we talked and I started coming to the venue and helping out and then after a few months he asked me to come on board full time as the talent buyer. I had done some booking at that point for them but never full time. At that point and time the venue was just getting going so my experience was achieved by doing the job. I have no formal education in this line of business, I have 12 years of public school under belt and that's it.
What do you actually spend the majority of your time doing?
This day and time everything is done via email with a phone call or two here and there....so email would definitely take up most of my time. Days that we would have shows were also very long at times. With early load ins and what not. I've always tried to be very hands on and as I said before with wearing multiple hats at times I would have a lot to do on the day of show.
What misconceptions do people often have about your job?
That it's easy! I've seen a lot of venues/promoters come and go. People trying to be promoters/buyers that don't have any idea on how long it takes to build trust and have good working relationship with agents. You can tell an agent what they wanna hear up front but if you can't live up to that then you will not get their bands moving forward and your reputation is all you have in this business. It's also learning to not book bands/packages as a fan but as a business minded person and I think that's hard for some people.
What are your average work hours?
When The 7 Venue was up and running it was all of the time. Emails coming over via phone make it to where no matter what time or where you are, you can be working on things that need to be done.
What personal tips and shortcuts have made your job easier?
Became friends with other people in the business, and we talk about stuff, ask questions and really learn your market that's one the biggest things I worked on.
What do you do differently from your coworkers or peers in the same profession?
I don't know really, because it's the same job for the most part. I was in house and only worked with one venue. A lot of people out there work with multiple venues and rooms, so that has to be somewhat different. Like I said before I was very hands on with most of our shows down to helping load in/out, selling tickets, cleaning up, FOH, etc and i'm sure that's different from what a lot of promoters/buyers do
Do you have any advice for people who need to enlist your services?.
At the moment The 7 Venue is still closed. We're going through the legal process with the state. I am currently starting to do shows at a local skate park, so I guess if anyone in bands would like to play they can always email me. The same goes for when The 7 Venue once it gets back up and running.
What's the worst part of the job and how do you deal with it?
I guess it would have to be dealing with hot head TM or just big headed people. I just try and stay professional and get through the day with them. Most of the time though they come around and they're cool at the end of the night.
What's the most enjoyable part of the job?
Just seeing how happy the people that came out to the shows we're and hearing them talk about how good the bands played. Just knowing that it all started months before and now it's the day of and people are getting to enjoy it. That's the best part.
What kind of money can one expect to make at your job?
That all depends on where you work how involved you are and how hard you willing to work. They're so many levels to this job that some people never make money and others do great.
How do you move up in your field?
I would say by networking and building a solid reputation and letting that speak for you. People see and hear how your shows do and everyone in this business talks.
What advice would you give to those aspiring to join your profession?
Just don't be a "know it all". Be willing to do whatever it takes to get your foot in the door. Listen to people, ask questions, we can never learn enough. The first step for most people is being an intern.