Scoring a job on Warped Tour is a journey. As you delve into your search for Warped Tour 2012 know that this tour might not be the first thing you do in the industry and that’s okay. If your motivation doesn’t waiver and you are a hard worker, Warped Tour can be in your future even if it’s not one particular summer. Warped Tour 2011 was my first year on entire tour, but it was three years in the making. If you want to tour and specifically be part of the Warped Tour community keep putting in the effort and eventually something has to give!
Growing up in a small suburb of New Hampshire there were never many opportunities to get involved in my local scene. Our music community consisted of a venue who refused to hire women and an indie label who still believe profiting off your music discredits the art. From going to local shows I met Dan Gonyea, creator of Future Breed and was inspired to learn more about photography. I co-founded a webzine with international contributors and became Managing Editor of my high school’s newspaper, which allowed me opportunities to photograph the likes of Green Day, Paramore, Slayer, and the Black Eyed Peas. Of course, the publicists didn’t realize I was only sixteen because I went to great lengths to keep my age a secret. I didn’t want anyone discriminating against me for how many years I hadn’t yet lived. Many weekends were spent traveling back and forth from Boston and Worcester shooting shows and attending some of Jeremy Saffer’s entertainment photography workshops. Jeremy is on a level of his own and I quickly learned from him that if you want to tour you have to put yourself in situations where you will meet people who have that demand. It was time for a change.
I started applying to colleges in New York City and eventually enrolled at Pace University. I had been turned down for jobs on Warped Tour for two years in a row, which makes much much more sense now considering I had limited touring experience. My network of friends in the industry was very limited. My resume consisted of only journalism positions and an internship with that small anti-capitalist label. Once I moved to Brooklyn I started working for The Syndicate, which is initially how I met Jesse, the tour manager for MusicSkins (with Nat!). We worked a campaign at the Boston date and since I was going back to NYC and he liked my style I was invited back for another date. At the time I was working as an artist manager’s assistant, which really meant I was spending a lot of quality time with spreadsheets and her child at their apartment, listening to her talk about how I could get on Warped after the gig. The work was grueling and I wasn’t learning so I left and went on to spend five months interning in MusicSkins’ Brooklyn offices. When I was first hired Jesse told me that I was in no way guaranteed a spot on Warped and that there were no promises. It was risky because I could have been dedicating almost half a year of my life to a company that might not have even helped me get where I wanted to be in the industry.
In an effort to prove myself I developed a 100+ member street team for our sponsored tours, many of which are WATK readers. Blogging became something I could do with my eyes closed and when South By Southwest came around in March I paid over $1,000 to go to Austin, TX and continue working for free with Jesse and the team. To make my trip affordable I also worked for The Syndicate at the same time, which meant I wasn’t sleeping but was constantly surrounded by motivated and hard working people. If you’ve never been to Texas for SXSW I strongly recommend it. Back in New York I was asked to represent MusicSkins at the 2011 sponsor meeting but still didn’t have any guarantee of going out. That night at the WArped kick-off party was spent hustling flyers to anyone who would listen and a week later I emailed the vice president of MusicSkins asking what his plans for me were. After several phone calls between him, the president, and Jesse, it was confirmed that I was going to be on the tour and the work was just beginning. After Bamboozle we had inventory to ship, publicists to engage, and a tour book to organize before flying to Dallas.
Once I was on the tour it felt like getting on was the easiest part. In those two months we had only eight days off and when people are hot and tired tempers can flare. Ultimately, the difficult times make you much closer to your team and are what will inspire you to keep pushing. To get on the tour you might have to wade through some bad industry experiences but it will all be worth it in the end. Some of my favorite memories from this year’s tour were being an unofficial assistant to Bethany in press and nightly recycling adventures with bands like 3OH!3. Something that I realize now is how incredibly difficult it is to get on the tour officially if you are under 21. If you find a way around it don’t abuse your good fortune - a good impression will be a big factor in whether you get asked back. Warped isn’t a tour that most people only want to do once!