Living outside of Melbourne can sometimes feel alienating. With so much happening around the CBD in the form of live music and entertainment, choosing a career that places you at its heart can feel worlds away. But for Erin Bridson, living in Ballarat didn't stop her from focusing on the bigger picture and studying Entertainment Management.
From working internships as part of her studies to freelancing full-time, Erin now works as the Ticketing & Tour Operations Assistant at Live Nation Australia, the largest live entertainment company in the world. Having worked on tours for Drake, The Weekend, P!NK, Bruno Mars, Ms Lauryn Hill, Shania Twain, Fleetwood Mac and more, we caught up with Erin to chat building a network in the industry and making the best of the opportunities that come your way.
Erin on multiple tours. Images provided by Erin.
Hey Erin, thanks for chatting with me. As someone who comes from Regional Victoria, tell me about your time at Collarts and what it was like to travel.
Yeah, I didn't move into Melbourne until last year. I commuted to Collarts and during my first few months working in the industry. It was challenging, but it has prepared me for the long hours my career demands of me at times. I waited until I was financially ready as I had time to save, and I feel this helped immensely.
What advice would you give to students who are living in the country who might be thinking, "I don't want to come and study at Collarts because it's far away in the inner city?”
I always knew that I wanted to earn a degree. I really enjoyed studying and had a really good support system at home, so even when I was stressed I had people to lean on. I think that's really important to have people—it doesn't have to be parents or family—but just to have people that you know you can rely on. I’d also give the advice of using your time wisely. I traveled for hours a day and during that time, I would spend studying my assignments for class, reading the prescribed readings, writing essays, that kind of thing.
That’s so good. Self-discipline and time management, I feel, are skills that only get better with time. Any tips on self-managing deadlines?
I've always made sure that the time that I did have free, I was using it to the best of my ability. My diary—both my digital and my written diary—are my best friends. If I didn't have access to those tools, I would struggle a lot more. I'm quite visual when it comes to remembering things and so I have to see it, and have to have written it. You need to know what works best and stick with it. Whether it’s assignments or positions in the industry, you will always have deadlines for events.
"The Entertainment Management course that's offered at Collarts is great because it gives you a really, really deep base knowledge of lots of different aspects of the industry."
Amazing, I love how that connects in with your work. What was your experience studying Entertainment Management?
The Entertainment Management course that's offered at Collarts is great because it gives you a really, really deep base knowledge of lots of different aspects of the industry. There are lots of different disciplines and lots of different areas you can go into, and I think the great thing that this course offers knowledge in of all of those aspects. When I actually started working in the industry, I was pulling from that knowledge, as Collarts teaches you to understand how the industry talks and moves. It can be really scary going onsite or going into a venue for the first time and feeling, "I don't really know a lot." But Collarts prepares you for that.
Now working at Live Nation, what advice would you give to those wanting to be successful in the entertainment industry?
I learned really quickly that you need to show people that, one—you’re willing to work hard—and two—you’re also willing to learn. I think those two things are really, really important. If someone asks you to do something within reason and isn’t dangerous, then do it. Nothing's too beneath you. It doesn't matter what positions you've held in the past. You should, especially as a freelancer, treat every job as a new job with new responsibilities and new aspects that you have to take on board.
"Without good people [working in] roles, things can fall apart very quickly and can make other people's jobs a lot more difficult. I think the other thing that Collarts taught me is to be receptive to people and to be able to read the situation you're in. No one tour or event is the same."
Yeah, totally. Where has freelancing taken you in terms of who you have worked for and on what projects?
It's given me a lot of freedom to do a whole range of different things, which is what I love about it. I'm not stuck in one particular role. It's enabled me to work for multiple different promoters, multiple different tours, and multiple different event-based projects. I think all those different roles have taught me very different things, but have also shown me how everything fits in together and how each role in whatever department that exists is extremely important.
Without good people in all of those roles, things can fall apart very quickly and can make other people's jobs a lot more difficult. I think the other thing that Collarts taught me is to be receptive to people and to be able to read the situation you're in. No one tour or event is the same.
What are some stand out tours you've worked on so far with the different promoters in Australia, and what does your role involve with Live Nation?
I've done Drake, The Weekend, Robbie Williams (Chugg Entertainment), Ed Sheeran (Frontier Touring), P!NK, Bruno Mars, Ms Lauryn Hill, Nickleback, Def Leppard and Shania Twain. At Live Nation, I’m the Commercial Product Assistant, so I also do a lot of research in regards to sourcing different suppliers and getting proper quotes for AV, putting together communications, assisting our Operations Managers, stuff like that. I've also worked in Site Management positions, being in charge of our Production Runner and other crew. I love being part of Live Nation as they work hard and pull off some of the greatest shows that have come through Australia. It's also impressive to see how young and accomplished the team are—it really inspires me.
"Learning how to speak to different people is how you become a great communicator and how you grow as a person."
That sounds really inspiring. What advice would you give to those that want to work in the industry, but it all seems so surreal that they don’t know how to start?
It's all about being confident enough to introduce yourself to someone. I think that's something that I've always been quite good with. I've always been quite personable and I've always been able to strike up a conversation with someone and introduce myself, even if it's just passing. You may not realise how connected or important someone is when you you make the first step to introduce yourself. The simple fact is that first step can be the best way of creating mutually beneficial relationships that can help you learn and grow.
I think a lot of young people don’t realise how much others genuinely want to help you succeed. Do you feel like Collarts gives you a chance to realise how important becoming part of community is?
Yeah, like doing group projects is a great way to meet and socialise with people you may not usually reach out to. Because you get thrown in with all the other cohorts, you have to work with different personality types and skills. I think that's a really important thing to learn, because you might not always be working in an office with people who've always worked in offices. My role at Live Nation, I do work in the office, but I also do work on site. I have to fit into two totally different worlds. One is a corporate setting and one's very much more of a hands on and at times physically demanding production role. Learning how to speak to different people is how you become a great communicator and how you grow as a person.
What advice would you give to those wanting to work in this industry?
Interning is a big part of making your career happen. I interned with The Push through Collarts and worked on multiple events too. During my studies, I also had a job in a bar and helped manage a nightclub—working on smaller events gave me the knowledge of how everything fits together. The thing is, all it takes is one opportunity and if you work really hard and get requested back, that opportunity can turn into more and more opportunities.
think my lucky break was when I decided to work really hard when I got given that first break, working on tour. Just keeping your ears open and your eyes open—you learn just as much from what they want out of you and how you yourself react.
Interview originally published 20 March, 2019.