Kate McMahon came to Messina Touring Group already a seasoned veteran, but she found her home with Louis Messina, who brought her along for the ride when he left Clear Channel Entertainment to hang his own shingle in 1996.
“My first job as a promoter – I didn’t fit into that office at all, and I tried really hard to,” McMahon tells Pollstar. “But it taught me that I gotta find my place where I can be me.”
She found that place with the help of Q Prime’s Tony DiCioccio, who McMahon cites as a mentor and credits with introducing her to Messina and Bob Roux, who interviewed her for PACE Concerts.
“When I took my job with Louis Messina in 1996, people warned me that he was tough,” she says, “but we clicked right away, and I knew I was in the right place.”
Since then, she’s made her mark on the industry at large – MTG tours earned nearly $600 million in North America last year alone – particularly through her relationships with George Strait and Kenny Chesney.
“The success of the George Strait Country Music Festival from 1998 to 2001 impacted a generation of country music artists – in how they tour, and what was possible,” McMahon says. “For me, it was when I really got to know George and where I met Kenny Chesney.”
McMahon strives to get into her artists’ heads while at the same time thinking like a fan. She applies that holistic approach to her work of bringing Chesney, Strait and other MTG country artists to as many adoring fans as possible.
“Live is always so fun – it’s the celebration of a record!” McMahon says. “And for me, sometimes ‘live’ helps me understand an artist. I may hear the record and think, ‘eh,’ but then see them and it all makes sense.”
While the biggest MTG artists now plot their futures years in advance, McMahon says she’s dismayed by onsale periods that force fans to plan the same way.
“I’m curious if the onsale window will become smaller again,” she says. “For years the industry standard was about 60 days, and now it’s stretched to over a year. Is that really good? Can a fan really plan a year in advance?”
Thankfully, I never had this one – but in the early days if you lost your laminate on the Chesney tour, you would have to wear the “ass pass” for a day – it was 8.5 x 11, so you felt like an idiot wearing it. I made sure never to lose my tour laminate!
People who ask, “How do you balance career and motherhood?” First, it’s an annoying, sexist question. Second, motherhood has made me even tougher – do you know how many times a day I say “no”? If anything, it’s certainly not made me softer!