WATK Guest Blog! AMANDA SCHILL: How I got on Warped Tour
This past summer, I met Amanda while she was volunteering at the Vans Warped Tour. After volunteering for multiple dates, Amanda managed to get herself a full-time job on the tour. Her story is amazing, and very similar to my experience of when I first got a job on the tour. Read on to hear her story, and advice for other people looking to get on the road!
What did you do to get involved with Warped before getting your job on the tour?
I’ve actually been going to Warped Tour since 2006. After attending for a few years I decided I wanted to learn what goes on on the inside, so I decided to start volunteering.
In 2011, I volunteered for Go Radio for 7 dates of the tour and learned a lot about the merch/band sort of side of the tour. In 2012, I volunteered as a brand ambassador for the film Fat Kid Rules The World for 9 dates and learned a lot about the sponsorship side of things.
I was just so eager to learn and get a taste of that sort of life, so if I had a day off of work and Warped Tour was within, say, a ten hour drive, I was there. I had a similar plan going into Warped 2013, I was set to volunteer with Zing Revolution for five or six consecutive days, but then I got to hop on the tour.
What things did you learn while volunteering that helped prepare you for actually having a job?
I feel very fortunate to have had volunteer experiences that I think, really, were similar enough to actually being on the tour that I had pretty good idea of what to expect when I got the job. I learned the basics like how early I’d have to be up every morning, how to set up a tent, etc.
The most important thing I learned was how important it was to have a positive attitude and a solid work ethic - I mean, in 2012 I volunteered for 4 days with a concussion and I was still ready and willing to get work done. The way each day goes is entirely dependent upon your attitude. The tour and everything that goes on just never really slows down. I also learned about the differences between working for a sponsorship tent versus working merch for a band and learned how to approach each situation to be as successful as possible.
The people who were on the tour that I volunteered for were really great mentors (and still are) and were really great about answering any questions I had, so I learned so, so much just from volunteering.
How did you get your job?
It was so crazy how it happened, really. I had volunteered at the Scranton and Pittsburgh dates, and my third day was in Cleveland (Cuyahoga Falls, if you want to be technical), which was the date closest to home for me. I was just doin’ the Zing thing, selling some phone skins, and I got a text from my dear friend Victoria, who was on Warped in 2012 with Fat Kid Rules The World. The text basically said “Hey, there’s a merch gig that just opened up, and I can’t take it, do you want me to recommend you?”
It took me a minute to really grasp what that text said, and after a lot of frantically figuring out my finances and my jobs at home, I met up with the band Young London, talked over some things and before I knew it, I was heading home to pack up all my stuff. The next morning I woke up at about 5:30am and my wonderful friend Emmy drove me to Detroit so I could join up with the tour!
So, so wild.
Once you had a job, what things did you learn that you never knew about as a volunteer?
The biggest thing I learned was how much your job’s success is based purely on YOU. All of my volunteer experiences were really a group effort, there were usually another volunteer or two other than myself - there were several of us getting the tent/tables/etc set up in the morning and taken down in the evening, etc.
I was really, really fortunate to have been on the tour with a good group of people. Matt, one of Young London’s singers, would help me find a spot and get the tent popped up… but when the band was playing their set or doing press, etc. keeping the tent organized and the fans happy was purely up to me. And I loved it. I loved pushing myself to find the processes that worked for different situations - pre-set, signing, post-set, etc. And everyone in the band was willing to come to the tent at any point of the day to help out with whatever needed to be done. It was like a well-oiled machine It has potential to be a high-stress situation but I made the most of it and at the end of every day I felt I was the best merch gal I could be that day.
Another thing I learned was how much Warped Tour really is a huge family. I had heard people say so before, of course, but I guess I never realized how tight-knit it could be. I hopped on the tour super late, I was a tiny little fish in a huge ocean, and by my third day I felt so incredibly welcome amongst everyone I had met and that’s really awe-inspiring and I think that says a lot about the tour. It’s such a supportive, amazing atmosphere. Even four months out, the people I’ve met are just so cool and everyone kind of just looks out for each other and lifts one another other up! It rules.
Do you have any advice for Warped volunteers who eventually want to get a full-time job on the tour?
a) I cannot stress this enough - DO NOT GIVE UP. I know it’s easy to get discouraged, but if you want it, go get it. Whether you’re a band wanting to play on the tour or someone who wants to sling shirts, you can make it happen if you put your all into it.
b) I truly believe that volunteering is a great way to get some solid experience and make great connections. If you’re a volunteer, really treat it as if it’s a job and work hard - the people you’re volunteering for are the people who can make recommendations for you in the future. Plus, it’s fun!
c) If it’s not summer, keep seeking out new opportunities to keep learning new things relevant to what you’d want to do on Warped Tour (or any tour, for that matter), and if you can’t find the opportunities, go out there and make them for yourself. I’d be willing to bet money that anybody can find really cool things to get involved with in their local music scene if they looked in the right places.
To keep in touch with Amanda, hit her up on Tumblr or Twitter!