Big Man On Campus: Professor Kevin Lyman Joins USC

Kevin Lyman
Chad Sengstock
– Kevin Lyman

“It is now official I will be becoming a professor this fall at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music,” Kevin Lyman, best known for helming the Warped Tour for the past 24 years, tweeted May 21. Pollstar caught up with the soon-to-be academic to get his syllabus and realized he for sure is going to be the BMOC.

Was walking the quad his destiny?
I had already worked 12 years in the music business when I started Warped and thought maybe I’d go do Warped with some friends, and then get that real job. [I was] leaning toward a teaching-type situation. And now we’re talking almost a quarter century later and this opportunity came my way.
A Way With The Youth:
I used to run summer camps a lot. I worked with the 7- to 12-year-olds at the time. I was able to work well with them.
A Degree In Recreation:
I have a college degree in recreation administration from Cal Poly Pomona. It allowed me to be on the ski team and run summer camps – pretty much what I do now.  I wasn’t planning to be in the music business. That was accidental. 
His School Of Hard Knocks Touring:
It’s always been a dream of mine to be able to educate. And I think Warped Tour was that kind of mobile classroom. We were teaching bands how to tour; brands how to grow and build audiences; a lot of crew people how to tour. I think now I’m just putting it in a more formal setting. 
Class Load:
They’re talking about four to five classes, so a full load. It’s going to be directed toward live event production, philanthropy in music, and visions of where the music business is going.
Required Reading:
I’m just starting to put [this] together. Emily White, the manager, has a great book on how to intern I really like [Interning 101]. I’ll probably reference Martin Atkins’ books [such as] Tour Smart and things like that.

I’m expecting it to be very project-based – group projects, individual projects. It’s a little early but the way we discussed it before, it will be semester-long projects. … But if there’s a class on live event production, I can take them through the whole process, so they have a real understanding of 
the nuts and bolts of what goes into putting on a show.
Overarching theme of the classes?
Responsible, thoughtful, business practices. That’s what I’ve taught throughout my life. Being able to be in this business long term doesn’t mean going for every dollar, every minute. I know that’s a very oxymoron concept in our business right now, but it’s always been my philosophy.
A Higher Calling:
I always had this philosophy of education, music and philanthropy. It’s always been part of my life and this is going to lend itself a lot toward that education as we’re working with the FEND (Full Energy, No Drugs) movement.