Like many new college grads, Mary Miller emerged from school with her Entertainment Business degree ready to land a job in her field with a nice paycheck and some good benefits. But she soon learned it can be tough out there in the workforce, especially during a recession, so she decided to volunteer instead.
“I began volunteering at a two-day blues festival,” she says. “I worked both days helping out in every area needed, including check-in, catering, behind the bar, selling raffle tickets for charity, etc.”
Mary had already gotten her feet wet volunteering in Orlando’s local music scene. While attending Full Sail, she would volunteer at local music festivals, such as Florida Music Festival, as an assistant manager at different venues throughout the weekend. “I was also a dressing room coordinator for Orlando Calling at the Citrus Bowl where I had the opportunity to cater to all of the artists on Stage 2 for the weekend, such as The Roots, Gavin DeGraw, and Buddy Guy,” Mary says.
These unpaid gigs began to pay off because when Orlando Calling co-promoters, Incognitus, needed a production intern, they knew exactly who to call.
By the time she moved back to her hometown in Maryland after graduation, Mary’s resume was starting to turn heads. “I began applying to local concert venues in D.C. and Maryland for internships and ended up gaining an incredible opportunity with Live Nation at The Fillmore in Silver Spring, which lasted from February until June,” she says. “I was working for the general manager’s secretary, assisting her in marketing and street-teaming future events as well as organizing the office [and] working concerts.”
When the internship ended, Mary kept in touch with the GM and her assistant, which led to her finding out about a production assistant position becoming available. “I immediately applied and emailed both of them, as well as the production manager, whom I had worked with a few times during my internship, to let them know I wanted the job. I was hired within a few weeks and have been happily working here since the end of August.”
As a Production Assistant at The Filmore in Maryland, Mary describes her job as stressful, fun, hectic, and exhilarating. “I have many different titles. On big show days, I am a runner and an assistant. I fulfill artist riders, keep backstage hospitality monitored, make sure the artists and tour managers have everything they need and are happy, I oversee meet-and-greets, ensure our venue has all of the proper credentials handed out, and I make sure guest lists and passes are taken up to the box office,” she says.
“On local/smaller show days, my boss feels comfortable giving me the responsibility of transitioning into a production manager role, meaning I handle all of the above as well as settle with tour managers and artists at the end of the night making sure they receive their proper check or cash payment. I make sure all of the float money adds up after purchasing riders and make sure it is returned and signed in to the box office.”
When there are no shows at the venue, Mary helps her boss advance all upcoming shows and handles a lot of administrative details, such as advance sheets, recap sheets, and tracking of production expenses. “I love the pressure and the stress to achieve a task that was given to me, and almost every time, I know that they will be appreciative and grateful for what I can do for them.”
In a nutshell, Mary sees her role quite simply: “I make people happy essentially. It is beyond ridiculous how much pressure and stress I put on myself, but at the end of the night, when the artists get to take the stage I get to see fans hear and see their favorite band live and then I get to see the artists work off of that crowd and make genius happen. There’s nothing like getting to sit back after a long, hard day of work and hear great music live. I love this industry and wouldn’t change for a second what I’m doing.”