See also: 25 reasons the Denver music scene rules
In our series of coveted Colorado music-industry jobs, we've covered a range of jobs, from guitar tech and handling publicity to being tasked with overseeing digital music delivery from a vast electronic music catalog to band management. Today, we complete our list of the most coveted Colorado music-industry jobs with five new entries featuring some of the people who help make up the hip-hop scene in Colorado. Continue on for the twenty most coveted Colorado music-industry jobs, including five new profiles, along with the previous fifteen.
See also: - Hard work and lots of play make Bedz a very busy DJ - All-Star Weekend put a jewel in Francois Baptiste's production crown - Bums Rushed: DJ Chonz and his gang are going places -- just not today
Official DJ Denver Nuggets (DJ Bedz, 95.7 the Party)
DJ Bedz is the resident DJ at the Pepsi Center. He handles the music for every Nuggets home game, a pretty sick gig with a great view. DJ Chonz recommended him for the job after the 2001-2002 season. As to when he might pass it on to the next DJ, Bedz says, "Never," with a laugh.
DJ Bedz (aka Cassidy Bednark) got his start deejaying when his mother bought him his first turntable for Christmas in high school. "Yeah for a while there I had just one," he recalls. "I didn't even ask for it. She just kind of knew I guess. I eventually got another one about nine months later."
After high school Bedz went to Occidental College in California, and that's where he got his first gig. "It was a big dorm party called 'Play That Funky Music White Boy,' ironically,'" he remembers. Returning from college, Bedz found a gig at Decades Night Club on Friday and Saturday nights. "That was the first time I thought this could actually pay the bills," he points out.
During his time at Decades, Bedz made a relationship with DJ Chonz and his Radio Bums crew. When a weekend radio spot opened up at KS 107.5, DJ Bedz was recommended by Chonz for the job. Working hard, he obtained more air time and began to work on releasing his mixtape series, which has been highly successful.
Now an on-air personality at 95.7 The Party, Bedz spends most of his day sending emails, recording, facilitating meetings, checking the radio charts and planning for his upcoming week. "I think people will be surprised that I am more of an introvert," said Bedz of his personality type. "I really had to work at being a radio personality, lucid and entertaining. It is hard work, but I learned to do it with confidence."
DJ Bedz also works very hard to keep his job as the Nuggets official DJ. "It's a very rigid job," he explains. "I think people get into this business because it's sexy or attractive, but they don't know it takes three or four hours a day of work just to market yourself. The screaming on the mic is the easy part." -- Antonio Valenzuela
Nightclub Promoter (Francois Baptiste, 3Deep Productions)
Together with his partners Kevin Kain and Alvin Lacabe as 3Deep Productions, Francois Baptiste is one of Denver's top hip-hop promoters. He's promoted countless club nights in town over the years, and a few years back during All Star Weekend in Denver, he hosted some of the biggest names in hip-hop and basketball. Attending college at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Francois says, "I majored in chicks and parties."
At a frat party back when he was a student, he overheard someone say they needed a DJ, to which he replied, "We DJ!" Only problem was he wasn't. At the time, François and his buddy Damon Haggans, who was from the L.A. nightlife, had four total records between them, plus a subpar mixer and some turntables. Even so, it was good enough to turn that into a mobile DJ service on campus.
Raised in a small town, Denver was alluring to Baptiste. "I was in awe of the big city," he recalls, "and I came at a perfect time when hip-hop was still a burgeoning scene." Soon his college parties had turned into packed warehouse parties. Baptiste remembers when his life's ambition became clear. He was concert. "Literally you have a dream," he notes. "I was at McNichols at a concert and said 'I don't want to be here [in the crowd] no more. I want to be back there" -- there, as in backstage.
He was able to parlay the following he had established in Boulder to working on shows at the Fox Theatre. William Gully, who was working security at the Fox, introduced him to Don Strasburg at AEG, who enlisted his help throwing hip-hop shows. Baptiste's first show in 1993 was Common, the Beatnuts, Artifacts and Organized Confusion, which sold out, and he maintained a relationship with Strasburg.
Baptiste's daily workload consists of working with local hip-hop act, Foodchain, organizing weekly club nights, in addition to "making new relationships," as he puts in, and "checking up on old relationships. Making sure AEG urban events are promoted correctly."
"I love what I do and do what I love," he concludes. "Hip-hop is at its peak in Denver, and in the next five years, you will see some good stuff come out of Denver. Don't sleep on us." -- Antonio Valenzuela
Afternoon Drive Host (DJ Chonz, KS107.5)
The afternoon drive time host of KS-1075DJ Chonz is probably one of the most recognizable personalities in the hip-hop scene. Co-founder of the Radio Bums crew, Chonz is a self-taught masterful DJ whose love for the craft is matched only by his consistency and work ethic.
"It started early when I was (in sixth grade), but my brother got into gangs and got rid of the turntables," Chonz recalls of his first exposure to music. In high school, Chonz hung out at the hip-hop-centric storefront, Casa Del Fonk, where Asia, the store's owner, would let him hone his skills, "They had one turntable and an old CD player I would play with," he remembers, "but no one taught me how to mix."
Chonz instead developed his skills by listening to the mixtapes they sold at Casa Del Fonk by dudes like Jam X, or from going to parties and listening to Hen-G scratch. "That dude," he says, referring to Hen-G, "came over to my house one time when I got my first turntable and scratched. I recorded it and learned to scratch from that."
In 1996, Chonz went on the "Eclipse Show" on KGNU 88.5 to battle a couple other DJs, Chris Nathan and Hakeem Klaaliq. Chonz won the battle and kept winning for a couple weeks, and that gave him the opportunity to open for De La Soul at the Fox Theatre. Now an on-air personality at KS-1075, Chonz wasn't even in town when he got the job, "I was doing an internship in L.A. when Francios Baptiste was pitching the show to the previous program director," Chonz says with a laugh. "It was him [Francois] and Kingdom. He asked me to be the DJ for their show."
The quality of the Sunday mix show resulted in Chonz receiving offers to work Friday and Saturdays street parties, which eventually led to mixing on The 5'oclock Commercial Free Traffic Jam, which led to a full time air shift. "I was the first person to mix live on the radio," he says. "As far as commercial radio, no one was doing that."
Now an established figure, Chonz has lately focused on giving back to the community. This coming summer, Chonz and his brother Fienz will celebrate the twentieth year of Lordz of Finesse with another bboy jam in July, building on countless community parties he's helped host, bringing music and food to the people in Denver. "I just want to be a positive role model for these kids to look up to," he concludes. -- Antonio Valenzuela
Studio Owner, Internet Radio Host (Xavier Davis, DIA Studios/DIA Radio)
Xavier Davis has worked with top industry artists, had the money and opportunities, lost them all to the street-life, served time in prison and come back again to appreciate his value in the community of hip-hop as a voice of guidance to the next generation.
Xaiver Davis (aka Boozilla) has had a big impact on the underground hip-hop scene in Denver for past twenty years. The driving force behind a lot of the music coming out of Denver during the '90s, Davis has roots that come from the streets. "The raw talent comes from the streets," he says. "If you are there not to catch it let, you're going to become part of a trend instead of setting a trend."
Early on, Davis was always intrigued by the drum and the percussion of music. He started deejaying at the age of fourteen with makeshift turntables, needles weighed down with pocket change, so they wouldn't move when they scratch. Davis, who was fascinated with the East Coast DJs, landed a gig deejaying adult clubs in Mobile, Alabama by the time he was sixteen with the stipulation that he not leave the DJ booth.
At the time, Gregory KT, who would later become Greg Street, was the hottest DJ in the South. Davis formed a lasting relationship with him that gave him special insight to the music industry, but Davis struggled with the street life. As the gang element became more prevalent in the music, it also took hold in Davis's life, prompting a move to Denver. "I came to Denver on a hustle," he remembers, "but the music never leaves you."
In 1992 Davis was producing mixtapes for Russell's Tapes and CDs in Parkhill, mixing, designing and hosting on 45 minute-cassette tapes. Russell's ended up moving to bigger store on Peoria, and Davis followed, though he kept struggling to choose between the dope game or the music game.
That struggle continued until 1995 when Davis brought C-Bo to town and hooked up with Awol records. Davis eventually left with Awol to Atlanta as a production assistant for the label, which he says distracted him for a while, "That really got my mind off the dope game, and I got to be around some of the top people in the industry."
Working around acts like Too Short and EPMD, Davis met and soon became known to the music insiders as a reputable street guy. Around that time, he sent all his studio gear back to Young Doe in Denver to push the music scene here. When the situation with Awol had run its course, Davis soon found himself in Seattle and then L.A. "I was with C-Bo when Master P gave him 100,000 in L.A., like 'Here let's work," he remembers.
Davis kept his connections in Denver and would frequently fly back and forth from where ever he was at. "Anyone in '96 that was doing it, I was working with," said Davis, who worked with everyone in the scene from Nyke Locc to Rich the Factor. "I had two deals on the table," he says, "one with Relativity and one with Universal. They showed me Country Grammar by Nelly, and that was the sound they were looking for back then." Davis backed away from the deal due to the fact he didn't feel that was the type of music Denver made or that he was doing at the time. "I wish I had," he says now.
In 1999, Davis struggle between the street life and music life finally caught up to him. Davis got arrested and ended up getting convicted and serving eleven years in prison. Davis doesn't hide from his past and embraces his street roots saying, "I came back right back to everything we were working on when I left, except without the drugs. Everything is 110 percent legit, and that is the biggest relief."
These days, Boozilla spends most of his time recording, mastering, shooting video or working on the new DIA Studio's radio show, which he says is a community affair, "We have thirty people working on the radio stuff. Right now YouTube is competing with TV, and TV media creation is opportunity to get into a multimillion dollar industry."
DIA Studios has produced or recorded music for Julox, Lil Bad, Innerstate Ike, Scorp Dezel, Young Joc, Lil Scrappy, Scarface and many more over the last two years, and Davis is still in good favor with a number of acts that reach out when they come to Denver. "All those contacts I was making back in the '90s paid off because people had respect for me, and I showed it back," he explains. "Now people call me from all over just based on my street respect. That is something I will always have." -- Antonio Valenzuela
Gentlemen's Club DJ (Nick Hernandez, Shotgun Willie's)
Before landing one of what many would consider to be the most coveted jobs in town, Nick Hernandez worked as an electrician, a vet technician and even a bathroom attendant. That last job is what led to his current position, which he considers to be one of the choicest gigs in the world. "I have the best job in the world, If I could smoke in the club I would be the happiest person alive," says Hernandez, aka DJ Ear Attent.
Hernandez has always loved hip-hop and the art of deejaying, but never knew it would lead to this type of dream gig. "I happened to have a friend who had a bathroom valet business, and he asked me if I wanted a job so I took it," he recalls, and from there he worked his way up. While working at Shotguns as a bathroom attendant, opportunity knocked. "One of the managers that worked at the club knew I was a DJ," he says. "So when a spot opened up, it was a little easier to get that chance."
By then, he was already an accomplished DJ. "I was just a kind of teach yourself type of learner," he explains. "I would watch my friends who had turntables in high school and it caught on. When I was seventeen, I got my own turntables and locked myself in my room for months."
Like many of his contemporaries, Hernandez was booked for house parties in high school and afterward, he held down a variety of jobs before ever making any real money off his talents as a DJ. Hernandez credits his relationship with local rapper Input as one of the most significant influences on his development as a DJ.
"That really took me from being a DJ that could rock a party, and step up my other technical skills," Hernandez says. "It's really different playing a party or club and playing a show like at the Marquee. I really had to step up my cutting skills, mixing back and forth from his songs and stuff like that."
Although he loves his job now, Hernandez says the one thing he was nervous about initially was speaking on the mic. "I still am not the most comfortable person with it," he says. "But I get the job done."
As far as musical selection and musical line ups go for the job, he said he was pretty familiar with the styles he was going to have to play, having worked for the company for a year before becoming a house DJ. "Girls pretty much request what is hot now, like Rhianna, 2Chainz, Nicki Minaj and stuff like that," he reveals. "I think it's harder to play stuff they don't know. They know the drops and choruses you know?"
Besides his job, Hernandez feels blessed to be a DJ in the Denver scene, noting that we have one of the best pools in the world with his personal favorites, DJ Vajra, Low Key and the Radio Bums crew, and he especially loves DJs EL-Brian and Deftron, who make up the Sprinkle Wizards. DJ Ear Attent drops free mixes on his soundcloud.
Keep reading for the original fifteen coveted Colorado Music-Industry jobs
Nightlife Photographer/Online Marketing (Jordan Loyd, Beatport)
Jordan Loyd creates images that make you want to go to experience the shows he's shooting. Following a random photo gig at Beta Night Club, he received a recommendation from Catherine Nguyen (profiled in an earlier installment of our coveted jobs series) that took him to Florida to shoot the Ultra Music Festival. From there, it's all history, as they say.
"After high school, I was real into ski and snowboard photography," Loyd recalls. "But Ultra was the real jump into music for me." The folks at Beta noticed some of his photos after a show one night at the famed club, and he was put at the top of the list for photographers. But why dance music?
"I think the culture surrounding the dance music industry is pretty cool," Loyd explains. "I don't think a lot of genres of music really hit that. It's all about that singular moment in the night, and the crowd goes insane."
Along with being photographing festivals and events all over the country, Loyd also recently started working for Beatport, the world's largest hub for dance music. "I work a lot on the email marketing campaigns, translations and analytics," he notes. "I went in as social media and marketing intern, but I don't really do that as much anymore."
These days, you can find Loyd's fingerprints all over the electronic music scene. From festivals in New York (Electric Zoo) to Miami (Ultra Music Festival), Lloyd's work is perused by some of the biggest names in the world. Chances are if you've seen a photo from any of these events pop up on your Facebook feed or your Twitter timeline, it's got Jordan Loyd's watermark in the bottom corner. -- Britt Chester
Talent/Service/Administration Coordinator (Albreanna Watson, SoCo)
When Albreanna Watson moved here from the Dirty South, she had no idea at the time that she'd end up doing what she is now. Starting in an entry level retail position, Watson possessed a passion for fashion, and that inspired her to go to school for merchandising. All of that changed, however, when she was offered the job as a cocktail waitress at Vinyl Night Club.
"I started right when I turned 21 at Vinyl," Watson recalls. "And if you work in the industry, you know, but people always want shifts." The night club scene is a grind, and where the money is good, there is a lot of temptation and competition. "I downgraded to braceleting, cashiering, and just learning things from the bottom." It didn't take long before her managers noticed how hungry she was, and she quickly moved up to bartending.
"There is a very fine line between partying and working," Watson points out. "And a lot of people get sucked into the party, keeping them from moving up the ladder." Still hungry for more, Watson expressed interest in an opening at the SOCO Nightlife offices answering phones and other office responsibilities.
These days, Watson wears as many hats as she can fit into, including booking artists for weekly events, coordinating fashions shows, tending a bar, making schedules, running social media channels for several clubs, and she is the voice that informs you about tickets sales, keeps you up on lost and found, bottle service details and whatever else you call a night club about. "You hear people say 'that was the craziest weekend of my life!' and that's my weekend all the time, except I have to be at work the next morning as well."
Any tips for a hungry up and comer? "Plot, plan and pursue," she says with a laugh. "Persistence is key." -- Britt Chester
Blogger (Nick Guarino, ThisSongIsSick.com)
Searching out new music and sharing it with your friends (and their friends) sounds more like a late-night obsession than a job, but Nick Guarino has parlayed his blog, ThisSongIsSick.com, into a viable career. "My original goal was to make good music more accessible," says the rising Boulder music mogul, "because I felt like there was a lack of that on the radio and mainstream media."
Driven by this notion, Guarino turned TSIS into a popular site that attracts upwards of four million hits per month, and one that has been crashed more than once thanks to exclusive releases from Big Gigantic. This caught the eye of talent buyer/band manager Ben Baruch (profiled in an earlier installment of our coveted jobs series), and the two have since established a great relationship over the past few years.
"The first real big show was Skrillex at the Fox Theatre," say Guarino, recalling his early exposure, "and I couldn't even meet [Sonny Moore] because I wasn't 21 at the time." The young Guarino was still taking full advantage of access by passing out flyers and stickers to promote TSIS.
Once he found himself engulfed in the music scene, the entrepreneur was soon managing Robotic Pirate Monkey, a trio now co-managed by Souls In Action founder, Lulu Simone. This led him to approach GRiZ, a Detroit raised saxophonist with a knack for creating bangin' tracks, which then turned into another professional venture: managing GRiZ.
Guarino plans on pushing TSIS to new heights and to continue showcasing more talent. "I am going to be developing the artist management side," he says. "And so, essentially, there are other artists I have had my eye on.
"And as far as live shows," he concludes, "there is so much more with festivals and partnering. With those, we were gone all summer. Now we are gearing up for fall: We've got Wolfgang Gartner at Boulder Theater, and GRiZ at the Fox in December." -- Britt Chester
Artist Rep. (Wilcox Weaver, PressPlay Colorado, Center Stage Classic)
Going to a lot of shows is rewarding as a fan, but it can also be frustrating when you realize that all the talent you are seeing is not being heard by more people. Wilcox Weaver came to this deflating realization in Boulder and decided to do something to change it. "Two years ago," he remembers, "I started up PressPlay Colorado with a collective of DJs that weren't getting the love that they needed."
Seeing this talent so unrepresented, Weaver took it upon himself to bring it all together, which is where he stands now with Center Stage Classic. Representing artists from all over the world, Weaver soon found himself consumed to the point where he was takikng time off from school to focus solely on the music scene.
"Since PressPlay Colorado started," he points out, "we've had about twenty or so writers and photographers providing content, and it just brings a lot of music to people who may not have heard it before."
The 21 year old business owner and partner has big things on the horizon, including bringing one of his artists, Anvil Smith, all the way from Russia for a show in early 2013. "With agency, I have a partner in California, Veronica Weitz," he notes, "and she covers a lot of the U.K. side of the agency. There are about fifteen acts, and we try to get them exposure here." -- Britt Chester
Mobile Party Master (Ben Travis, Whomp Truck Founder)
When Ben Travis acquired a legitimate sound system for the purpose of throwing his own events, it never occurred to him that he should pack it into a box truck and park in random gravel lots to blast dubstep.
"I found a 1969 Chevrolet ice cream truck," Travis recalls. "It was $700 and fit my needs and budget." After loading up this truck -- which was originally acquired for the sole purpose of transporting equipment -- one day out of his garage while throwing back a few cold ones with a buddy, Travis noticed that the subs just fell into place. "We stacked the [speakers] into the back of the truck and noticed they fit perfectly." Thus Whompy, the only mobile electronic party that can literally shake the ground beneath your feet, was born.
"After that, I hit up some friends at a gallery (Theory and Practice) down on Santa Fe, and we parked out front and played music during the First Friday art walk." The first round brought out a crowd that surprised even Travis, and provided great exposure for the debut in March of 2009.
Three years later, Travis has formed a crew of Whomp Truck residents to play after hour shows, and they continue throwing down for free at First Friday art walks, as well as last-minute-revealed locations for special parties. That will all change come winter when the crew plans on working on the newest addition to the Whomp Truck family, Would Shop 2.0.
So how does an information technologies consultant transform into a truck whomping DJ?
"Another just kind of happening," he says. "I played instruments my whole life, and I love all sorts of music. I used to think all electronic music was basically really bad trance. I thought all of it was like that, but then I met a friend here, and he was all, 'Do you like jungle?' he played some and I fell in love with it." After that, Travis remembers using all his spare cash on vinyl purchases, and really delving into the creative process.
For the rest of this year and into next, Travis's plans to take things to the next level are well within reach. Hosting shows and after hours at Would Shop 2.0, which doubles as both a workshop and a special event venue, is only the beginning, For now, though, you can find Whompy near 13th and Santa Fe in a parking lot, and be sure to keep your eyes peeled for upcoming productions at Would Shop 2.0. -- Britt Chester
Senior Manager of Communications (Tyler Jensen, Beatport)
Upon acquiring his first CD, Tyler Jensen knew that he would make a career in music. After multiple internships, some paid and some not, Jensen took jobs at both Napster and Warner Music Group out in California. When the chance to work at Beatport presented itself, he immediately packed his bags and moved to Denver.
At Napster, Jensen had become acquainted with Matthew Adell, Beatport's CEO, who posted the job opening Jensen responded to. "I saw the posting for the job on Facebook," he recalls, "and after talking with Shawn Sabo [Manufactured Superstars], I was packing my stuff to move to Denver."
The road to Denver started on the East Coast, when Jensen graduated from NYU. "I aspired to work at a major record label, maybe be an A&R guy," says Jensen "That was back in the day when they were discovering girls in church and signing them to seven-record deals." Jensen later landed a gig working for a major record label, but he eventually found his way to Beatport. Then the industry took a turn. "I had a great setup in LA," he says. "I was there for six years. I was doing fine. But I saw the record label going down, and I needed to get out."
When Jensen joined the company in 2010, Beatport had around 65,000 "likes" on Facebook page ("I did not expect Beatport to be such a major player in the music industry"), but these days, the company now sits at over 850,000, and a lot of that is thanks to the efforts of Jensen, who oversees social media for Beatport.
Probably the most enviable part of Jensen's job -- he's in charge of all other communication for the company -- is that he gets to work with all the artists that come through the Beatport offices to perform Ustream sets, a task which has allowed him to rub shoulders with some of the world's biggest names in contemporary music. -- Britt Chester
Director of Marketing and Entertainment (Catherine Nguyen, Beta)
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Catherine Nguyen found herself with then boyfriend, now husband John Le (aka DJ Dragon), passing out fliers and branding an up and coming production company. "It was an endeavor that didn't have an end in mind," Nguyen recalls. "Rather, it was a journey and music was the centerpiece of our actions."
On any given night, Nguyen's fingerprints are all over the entertainment for the evening, but it's not just about throwing an event. "When it all comes to fruition," she explains, "you come to the conclusion that we are in the business of making memories: Memories of a great birthday, or seeing your favorite DJ, or even discovering a new artist -- which becomes part of the customers' lives and they carry that with them forever. It's a powerful thing."
Nguyen has dedicated her life to the music scene in Denver. Starting out with promotions in the early days of Triad Dragons, to being responsible for brand management for the Beta, Nguyen is the person behind all the events at the number one club in North America.
But a job like this only works if the commitment is there, and the success certainly doesn't come overnight. "It is truly a labor of love," she says. "If you're doing your job right and are successful, it's a lot of hard working hours, sleepless nights and loss of hair that are poured into it." Nguyen knows this job is not for everyone, but her dedication over the past five years has landed her in one of the most important positions in Denver's club scene. -- Britt Chester
Boutique Music and Art Collective founder (Berk Visual, Elm & Oak)
Berk Visual (aka Wallace Gibbs III) met Alex Botwin at college in Tennessee, where Berk was in the early years of building Elm & Oak. "I started my first clothing line when I was seventeen," Gibbs explains, "and I've always been into that create and design realm."
Botwin, who really brought the music aspect of Elm & Oak to the table, joined forces with Gibbs in 2009 when the latter relocated to Boulder. The two came together with a vision and the means to create, which prompted the opening of the Elm & Oak storefront just off the Pearl Street Mall on 13th Street. The brand, which includes visual artists, musicians and designers, also uses its presence to promote music, a side of the business that Botwin is more than experienced with. "I just want to back what I believe in," says Botwin in regard to Cherub, TwoFresh and Black Actors, three artists that are receiving serious support from Elm & Oak.
Along with running this brand, both Gibbs and Botwin are music producers, each with respective careers of their own. As Raw Russ, Berk is steadily climbing the ranks as a DJ, supporting local and national acts, while Botwin is set to launch a headlining tour with Paper Diamond.
"As far as I see it," notes Berk, "we are definitely still on the upswing. It's just continuing to grow, and I feel like we got here -- I never had this grand vision -- I just knew that I wanted to dedicate my life to art." -- Britt Chester
Promoter (Nicole Cacciavillano, Sub.Mission Dubstep and Bass.Code)
"I feel like we have an event every other day," says Nicole Cacciavillano, in between promoting upcoming events, setting up new events and managing her team of promoters, artists and social media presence. "But I want people to experience the peaks and valleys of music and realize what is does for you emotionally."
Cacciavillano, profiled earlier this year in Backbeat, is still running things in the dubstep scene with Sub.Mission and Bass.Code, but she's also started working on a residency exchange program that will bring other local artists from national markets to Denver, while sending her crew of talent out to share their music. "We had someone from the Portland crew play an Electronic Tuesday recently, and I sent Patrick [Dirtmonkey] out to play." While under her supervision, Dirtmonkey has also recently released an album under the famed Play Me record label, along with former Sub.mission resident, Ishe.
Cacciavillano plans to scale things back on the daily shows and focus on bigger shows featuring international electronic artists. The upcoming Caspa show at the Fillmore Auditorium, slated for October 25, will be her second production at the massive venue, which housed her sold-out production featuring Flux Pavilion and Doctor P in 2011. -- Britt Chester
DJ/On-Air Radio Personality (A-Rich, Hot 107.1)
Being on-air is not as easy as it might sound, and, for his part, A-Rich (aka Alvin Richardson) has worked very hard to get into radio. Like most players in the music scene, nothing was handed to him. After working odd jobs from washing cars to bagging groceries to working in the hospitality industry, A-Rich found his niche in night radio and has not looked back since.
After graduating from the Ohio Center for Broadcasting in 2005, A-Rich interned at night with Slim, another radio host that works for Max Media, the parent company of Hot 107.1. After learning the ropes, eventually he got a shot at the big time thanks to Catt Collins in 2006. "After all that," he says, "the rest is just history."
An award-winning history at that. With seven years experience on the air, A-Rich has been recognized by the Colorado Broadcasters Association, which gave him a nod for having the Best Evening Show in a Major Market, no small feat considering how competitive the radio market is in Denver.
These days, you can find him hosting a variety of shows at Hot 107.1, namely the popular Future Bass Radio with Ishe, a local dubstep producer who plays live on the airwaves every Wednesday night. Along with Ishe, A-rich produces and delivers the show live each night. -- Britt Chester
Guitar Tech (Darrell Plampin)
Enthralled by the crew running around on stage at Red Rocks making the show happen, Darrell Plampin knew he wanted to work in music from a young age. To date, he 's been a guitar technician and stage manager for bands like Denver's own DeVotchKa, STS9, My Morning Jacket and Gogol Bordello. This fall, he'll be on the road with Bon Iver.
Although he's usually busy maintaining all of the gear that the guitar players will be using, his role can shift into maintenance of the entire stage, making sure everything runs smoothly and on time all day. A normal day is a marathon -- sprinting between loading the gear, setting it up, sound-checking, gear maintenance throughout the show, then gear breakdown.
"Ideally," he says, "we're done packing everything up by the time the bus is scheduled to leave for the next city, hop on board, and crawl into our bunks to get as much sleep as possible, before waking up in the next alley, outside the next venue, in the next city."
The excitement of this whirlwind has its share of exhaustion, but he wouldn't have it any other way. "What keeps me in the industry are the constant and consistent opportunities for growth and improvement around every corner. I'm excited to go to work every day, knowing that I am gaining experience and skills that will help me move forward to the next level. Additionally, I believe that there's a power in music to connect people, and as the shows that I do get bigger and better, I know that we are connecting with more and more people worldwide." -- Sam Alviani
Marketing Manager (Sarah Finger, AEG)
Sarah Finger got her start when Chuck Morris, president and CEO of AEG Live Rocky Mountains, "took her off the streets," as she puts it, and offered her a position as his office manager.
After working there for a year, Finger moved on to the Fox, where she stayed for five years, doing everything from management to talent buying and working closely with Don Strasburg and Eric Pirritt, who she feels taught her everything she knows. Additionally, she dabbled in festival work and band management, all of which made for an already well-rounded career history.
After a year hiatus in Chicago, Finger returned to Denver and AEG; she missed Denver and the people she worked with, way too much to stay away for long.
"At this point," she says, "I haven't had a normal day in ten years. Part of my job does have structure: We send out e-mails, we buy print ads, we buy radio spots, we buy Facebook ads...did I mention we send out e-mails? But at any given time, I'm working on forty-plus different shows, so where I'm buying that advertising is always different.
"My favorite part of the job," she goes on, "is coming up with new and different promotions, outside of the ads we run, to get the word out about our shows. That's where we can get creative and have some fun. We have staff meetings every week, but our staff meetings are highly entertaining; I think our office should get our own reality show."
But while the people are what keeps her at AEG, the music is what keeps Finger in the game after all these years. "I remember looking over the crowd at Phish last year at Dick's Sporting Goods Park and being in awe of how many people were there and that I was a part of something that big," she says. "There was a moment at Brandi Carlile's Red Rocks show earlier this year -- she was on stage playing in front of 9,000 people and telling the story of how she played at the Fox in front of forty people years ago. I had worked on both of those shows, and that really brought the last ten years full circle for me." -- Sam Alviani
Artist Relations (Annabel Lukins, Cloud 9)
Annabel Lukins has worn many hats in her career in music. In college, she interned at a record label, where a chance encounter with Steve Miller revealed her potential skills in artist relations. A memo had gone around the office saying that Miller would be in the office, and that in no way was anyone to approach him -- but Lukins took this edict with a grain of salt and approached him about signing a CD. Not only was he receptive, he was curious about her role there.
"It was at that moment that I knew I would be successful in the music business," she recalls. "I didn't even know what artist relations was at the time, but I felt very comfortable around a big musician. He's just a person, like all of us."
After stints at MTV and Planet Bluegrass, Lukins started booking, managing and emceeing the Sonic Stage at Bonnaroo, and landed an interview for the marketing director position at Cloud 9 Adventures not too long after. That opportunity opened the door to the role of director of artist relations.
"With Cloud 9, I created my position and took it to new heights year after year," she notes. "Not only do I run artist relations, but I am the emcee of Jam Cruise. My nickname is Julie McCoy, who was the cruise director on the Love Boat. The great thing is that any of the passengers who weren't born in the '70s don't know who Julie McCoy is and think my name is really Julie. A little anonymity goes a long way with me."
For Lukins, it's the music, plain and simple, that keeps her in the game. Because she's befriended so many of the artists she's worked with, she gets to work and spend time with the people she loves. "I feel immense passion for what I do. My interests are taking care of people who surround themselves with music. Plus, I have ADD, and I'm skilled at multitasking and dealing with multiple personalities at once -- a great asset when handling a hundred musicians all with their own agenda." -- Sam Alviani
Talent Buyer (Ben Baruch, Fox Theatre/Boulder Theater)
Ben Baruch, who grew up on gospel, and started playing the drums at seven, can't remember a time he wasn't involved in music. "I still remember when I saw four guys singing in harmony when I was ten and told my dad I wanted to 'manage' them," he relates. "I literally had them come to my house and sing while my dad and I sat on the couch and watched them. I obviously didn't have a clue what 'managing' meant, but for as long as I can remember, I wanted to be involved in music."
These days, Baruch books talent for the Fox Theatre and Boulder Theater, and manages numerous clients, including Big Gigantic, which recently confirmed slots at Red Rocks and Bonnaroo in the same week. As expected, no day for Baruch is ever really "normal." It typically starts with an early morning walk with the dogs, followed by answering emails and plotting out his booking strategy.
Booking requires starting with Thursday through Saturday dates and working backwards from there. The process begins with researching who will be touring in the area, deciding what bands he wants to book and then reaching out to agents and managers. When availability is confirmed, Baruch sends offers and tries to confirm three calendar months in advance. But that's just the tip of the iceburg for him.
"Being that I manage musicians, a film and TV writer and an actor -- all on different time zones -- in addition to booking theaters, my day can go in any direction at any point," he notes. "No day is ever predictable. People always ask if I'll have a busy day tomorrow, and the answer truly is, I'll never know; it changes second to second and lasts way beyond a twelve-hour work day."
The natural drive he feels for the industry keeps Baruch passionate about what he does. "When you love something, you feel it," he observes. "I wake up every morning -- no one ever believes me, but I swear, every morning -- and I can't wait to do work. Healthy? Not a chance, but it is what it is. Whether it be to book shows, read one of my client's scripts, listen to a client's new song or take a 5 a.m. flight to a concert, I love every second of it." -- Sam Alviani
Band Management (Brian Schwartz, Red Light Management)
One of the best moments of Brian Schwartz's career was having breakfast with Jerry Weintraub at his house. Before that opportunity ever presented itself, however, Schwartz had come a long way in order to find his place in the industry.
"I was on the road doing tour accounting work for Ozzy Osbourne in 1998," Schwartz recalls, "and an amazing music industry veteran named Jane Holman told me, 'Don't get stuck on the road for more than ten years, or you'll be stuck on the road forever.'
Once he heard that, Schwartz started thinking about the next step. "I realized that Ozzy's manager and wife Sharon Osbourne was the woman calling all the shots," he remembers, "and I immediately started watching and learning from Sharon and other powerful managers, with the intent that I would work towards becoming a manager."
Schwartz' first client was Marie Beer, a musician out of Boulder, and he also worked with Rose Hill Drive. These days, he works with John Denver's Estate and represents artists like Lucero, Dinosaur Jr., J Mascis, Milow, Bestfriends and Baywood at Red Light Management. -- Sam Alviani