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Inside GRAMMY U's Backstage Tour Takeover At Lollapalooza 2018
Like any other Tuesday night, I’m at home eating the cheapest food money can buy. I’m working at my computer when I receive an email from GRAMMY U announcing an exclusive backstage tour of the Lollapalooza festival grounds. Being a proud member of GRAMMY U, I immediately drop everything and submit my RSVP.
Fast-forward to Aug. 1 —it's 10 a.m. and I’m eagerly waiting with my friends outside the gates of Grant Park on the day before Lollapalooza 2018 is set to begin. Patrick Dentler, our tour guide and marketing director for Lolla's production company C3, takes us on a journey to the core of the festival via golf carts and introduces us to people who run crucial departments of the festival. We hear about the role each person plays in making the event a success and the students can ask any questions they have.
Our first stop was the artist village where we meet Tammy Blevins, who has worked in the artist relations department for 30 years. She tells us about how she got her start as an intern, picking up trash after the events in Austin, Texas and what her core duties are in artist relations— including making sure artists are taken care of and being their liaison during their time at the festival. Tammy is also one of over 100 people in charge of making more than 400 runs to and from the festival grounds and the hotels.
At our next stop, we meet Ben Winter, a very enthusiastic social media, photo and video production expert. He teaches us how to turn engagement into ticket sales and discusses the troubles of getting the younger generation to share posts to their personal page. He ends with a very inspirational story about how he got his position and leaves us with some advice: “No matter what your definition of success is, there is no set way of obtaining it—there are multiple ways.”
As the tour comes to an end we make one more stop in front of one of the main stages where we are introduced to Houston Powell, one of many talent bookers for Lollapalooza. He talks to us about the process of negotiating with artists, making sure they’re on time, and predicting which bands people may want to see in the future.
Powell is also in charge of booking some of the after party shows that go on at various venues after the festival closes for the night. With Lollapalooza hosting multiple festivals across seven countries, he is constantly working with agents and artist managers to book the best possible lineup during and after the festival. As he tells us all about his duties, we realize we're talking to a very busy man.
Although Lollapalooza may seem like it's all fun and games, there’s a lot of hard work that goes on behind the scenes to put on one of the largest music festivals in the world. By the end of the tour, we all leave with a large amount of knowledge about the career paths that we learned about backstage. Amazingly, most of the people we talked to had started out as interns and worked their way up.
We were also reminded that there is no defined path on the road to success — we as individuals define that for ourselves. Whether you’re Ben who graduated college working as a waiter with no experience in the industry, or Patrick, who graduated as a history major, you can always find a path to success with enough patience and hard work. Not only did we leave with this newfound knowledge, we left being one step closer to our dreams.