Monday, May 23, 2011

Opus One Productions Interview


About a year ago we did an interview with Brian Drusky, owner of the promtion company Drusky Entertainment. Today we bring you an interview with Amy Wagner, the Marketing Director for Opus One Productions. Amy was kind enough to answer our questions ranging from how she got into the business to how bands utlize scavenger hunts for their marketing.

You are the Marketing Director for Opus One Productions. How did you get into the business? Is this an industry you had always worked in?

Live music has always been a part of my life, but going to concerts took over as a main priority as soon as I was old enough to go to shows unsupervised. At first I would mostly just help my friends in local bands sell tickets for their shows. I started with Opus as an intern while I was in high school and my parents were generally supportive of the idea, especially since being involved saved me a lot of the money I’d be spending on tickets.

What are your main job functions with the company?

In the most basic sense, when we confirm a show it is my job to make sure that people know about it and decide to come. I figure out who the target audience is and get a plan together. I also manage our street team and assist with production. You can usually find me at the box office if I am working a show.

How long have you been with Opus One? Is this a full time venture for you?

I work out of our office on weekdays, and I work shows a few times a week. I started working full time once I graduated college.

How many people work for Opus One currently? Full time? Part time?

There are five full time employees, four part time employees.

How has the opening of the balcony seating at Mr Smalls done? Have you received good sales and feedback? I recently sat up there for the first time for the Mogwai show and have to say it was a definite pleasure.

I agree with you that it definitely enhances your experience, considering the view and just the fact that you have a seat above a standing room only floor. I like to watch shows from there when I’m not working.

You currently have a partnership with Promo West Productions (Stage AE). How does this work? Do you book the shows? Or?

We co-present certain shows with them at Stage AE. It’s a new venture, being as the venue just opened late last year, and I’m really excited for what we have coming up this summer and I’m happy we are a part of it. I’m about to attend our first outdoor event there on Friday.

How has the ‘Club at Stage AE’ done? I went to a couple of these smaller shows and found them enjoyable. Will they continue?

It’s a very versatile venue, and it was a smooth operation when they closed the partition after Bassnectar to create the Club for the after party. To date that’s the only Club event Opus has had there, but I found it to be a great end to the evening and I hope we continue to have the opportunity to utilize that space when the occasion calls for it.

You work with several different venues exclusively (Club Café, Brillobox, Mr Smalls). Do these venues come to you? And are you contracted with them?

It’s a partnership in which we exclusively book the concerts for each venue. It’s great because across the three venues we can cater to a lot of different genres and reach a different kind of audience.

What are the challenges of booking shows in the Pittsburgh area and bringing in a crowd?

Like with any promoter, it’s just doing the right kind of work to be able to put on a successful show and making sure that we are paying attention to the acts that would do well in the Pittsburgh market.

What are the benefits of booking in the area?

Pittsburgh is a great city that seems to always be in a state of flux--in the best way possible. It’s never boring, and there are plenty of chances to take risks and try something new.

How are local acts booked with Opus One? What advice would you give to a local band trying to book a show here in pgh?

We either set up local showcases with several local bands or have a few open for national bands coming through looking for local support. The best advice I can give is to send us an email with something to listen to, and in the event that you are booked, show up on time and be a pleasure to work with. Simple things like that go a long way.

How is the competition these days with booking acts with other competitors in Pgh?

We really don't think about that...

With regards to local acts opening for national artists, what do you normally ask of them?

For national shows, we tend to book the local bands that we have worked well with during Local Showcases. That way we are confident that they can handle the responsibility of selling tickets and coming into it with a professional attitude.

Fun Questions:

Strangest request on a rider?

If you know anything about Gogol Bordello, then it wouldn’t surprise you that their rider in its entirety is a delightful read. It’s like a novella.

What was the most difficult band to deal with and what happened?

Nothing scandalous comes to mind. Difficult days rarely stem from an actual band member being hard to work with.

Has there been a band or mgt group you won’t deal with again?

No, there isn’t some sort of blacklist in existence.

Any funny, amusing stories from your marketing of bands?

I wish every artist would want to conduct scavenger hunts as part of their official tour marketing. I’ve had the pleasure of assisting with a few in the past and it’s a very fun way to involve fans directly.

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