Paying It Forward To Help The Next Generation Break Into the Biz

Tour Management 101
Photo by Alex Prince / courtesy Henry Bordeaux / Tour Management 101

Tour Management 101 interns on site at Lollapalooza with Tyler, the Creator’s team in Chicago: tour manager Henry Bordeaux, Alix Negrin, Veronica Fuchs Espinal, production manager David ‘5-1’ Norman, and Tia Harewood-Millington.
When Tyler, the Creator took the stage at Lollapalooza July 30 to close out Day 2 with a headline performance that was praised by the Chicago Sun Times as a “visionary, art-driven set that melded jazz, R&B, rap, trip hop and darkcore,” his show came to life in part because of the efforts of a few Tour Management 101 interns who shadowed Tyler’s team.
“We had a couple of students that shadowed us at Lollapalooza and we didn’t take it lightly on them,” production manager David ‘5-1’ Norman of Tour Forensics told Pollstar. “We said if you guys want to see what it’s really like, you’re going to have to come with us at midnight [for] load-in.”
He added, “Tour manager Henry Bordeaux brings in students to shadow, because that’s the best way to learn. … You know, you can talk about it, but you’ve got to walk the walk. You’ve got to physically be involved.” 
The team loaded in at midnight, left Chicago’s Grant Park at 10:15 a.m., went back to the hotel, slept for a few hours, and then returned to the site at 6:30 p.m. Tyler, the Creator’s went on at 8:45 and then load-out finished up around 1 a.m.
Norman praised the interns, Alix Negrin, Veronica Fuchs Espinal and Tia Harewood-Millington, commenting that he “never heard them complain, like, ‘Oh, I’m so tired’ or anything. They came in, they knew what to expect and they jumped in and helped out where needed. They did amazing.

“I also have to give a shout out to our production coordinator on Tyler. His name is Alex Prince – who’s amazing. He really helped the students out in the production office, teaching them and guiding them. Between Henry and Alex, I think the students learned a lot.”

With touring on hold during the pandemic, the free online learning resource Tour Management 101 has helped educate the next generation with a weekly webinar series on the fundamentals of touring, featuring group panel discussions and one-on-one interviews with leaders in the business. Now that shows have returned, the education of TM101 continues.
Bordeaux, co-founder of Tour Management 101 and CEO of Ground Branch Management, has been managing the shadow program since 2012 for numerous acts he’s tour managed over the years including Travis Scott, Jason Derulo and Nick Jonas.
That opportunity to soak up real-world experience and get the chance to work with pros like Norman and Bordeaux is invaluable for the next generation of folks hoping to break into the live business.
Norman, who was named to the board of music industry networking nonprofit Well Dunn in October, has long had a passion for mentorships and sharing knowledge. He’s also led classes at several universities speaking about touring including NYU and Belmont University in Nashville, where he’s involved in the Curb College Virtual Summer Internship Program.
“One of the things I’ve told the students is don’t be afraid to reach out to someone by Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn. … Sometimes picking [someone’s] brain could lead to a job or lead to mentorships or internships,” Norman says. “Don’t feel like you’re going to annoy someone by reaching out, because the worst thing that could happen is that person could say they’re not interested in talking to you or they don’t respond.”
Norman recalls meeting legendary tour/stage manager Patrick Stansfield when he was coming up in the business and how Stansfield spent three hours answering all of his questions. Stansfield also put in a call so he could meet tour manager Marty Hom, who’s become Norman’s good friend.
“I got to meet two of my idols on back-to-back days and they let me pick their brains. I think that you should always pay it forward. So that’s what I try to relay with my students – reach out,” Norman says. As the live industry returns to the road after the pandemic, Norman points out that many people had to pivot and won’t be back – “so this is a perfect time for young people to get in.” And, with the live business rebuilding, it’s also the perfect opportunity to continuing striving to create a more diverse and inclusive industry.
Many of the music business’ mentorship and internship programs are geared to helping create an industry that better reflects the makeup of the country by including more women and people of color.
Excellence: Sean Love Combs
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images / AG

Excellence: Sean Love Combs recently signed with WME and teamed up with Endeavor to launch “The Excellence Program,” a virtual development for aspiring entertainment executives from underrepresented backgrounds. Combs, a former intern himself, pictured with Ariana Grande at 2019’s Coachella in Indio, Calif.
ICM Partners’ internship program partnered for the first year with the Entertainment Industry College Outreach Program and of 17 interns in this summer’s class, 40% hail from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).  
“It takes a real commitment from the entire industry to ensure young people of color are being taught about the agency business and mentored from the college level to the executive level,” ICM Partner and Head of Music Rob Gibbs said. “I couldn’t be more proud of the incredible interns that participated this year, as well as the continued work ICM is doing to educate and provide opportunities for young people of color.”
In February, CAA launched the initiative CAA Scholars as part of its “commitment to creating systemic social change for a safer and more equitable future for all.” The agency partnered with College Track, Step Up, UNCF, Hispanic Federation, Brotherhood Crusade, and Point Foundation to select 10 students who will receive mentorship and real-world experience. CAA also teamed up with the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder to launch the Thunder Fellows Program to provide opportunities for Black students in the areas of sports, technology, and entertainment.
In addition to signing with WME in all areas, Sean Love Combs partnered with Endeavor to launch The Excellence Program, offering “sessions spanning across categories such as Touring and Performing, Professional Development, The Business of Entertainment, and Storytelling.” The six-week program launched July 12 and is free to eligible students with an interest in breaking into entertainment, marketing, music or fashion. 
Endeavor and Combs have partnered with racial justice nonprofit Color Of Change “to lead coursework on ways to effectively impact change in the workplace.” To help diversify hiring pipelines industry-wide, top participants from the Excellence Program will be included in a database “resume book” that will be shared with relevant companies, according to a June 17 announcement. 
“Beginning my career as an intern changed my life, so it’s been a lifelong dream to give the next generation of entrepreneurs and executives access to the best in entertainment, marketing, music and fashion,” Combs said in a statement. “Partnering with Endeavor creates a pipeline to opportunities that allow future leaders to not only succeed, but thrive in these highly competitive industries.”
Endeavor CEO Ariel Emanuel added, “The Excellence Program helps ensure access and education are available to all who possess the talent, vision and creativity necessary to succeed in the entertainment industry. We hope it serves as a catalyst to break down barriers and create content that better reflects the communities we serve. We are proud to partner with Sean in bringing this program to life.”
UTA has a year-round internship program with two music interns currently finishing their summer experience. The agency has also hosted a mentoring program with Los Angeles’ University High School for the past 15 years. With the program on hiatus due to the pandemic, last year UTA Foundation ran a virtual mentorship program with students from across the country through the nonprofit organization Music Unites. The agency plans to work with other nonprofits in the music education/youth development space in the upcoming school year.

UTA’s other initiatives to support the next generation include an externship Program that provides a premier learning experience for the next generation of entertainment executives. Plus, UTA has an internal event series called La Femme Majeure (LFM) that “connects and empowers music’s next generation of women leaders to create a special track for female externs looking to break into the music industry.”

Laura Roenick, Director of Learning & Development at UTA, recommends that up-and-comers “apply to internships and externships to not only learn from potential mentors, but to meet other aspiring entertainment professionals. Remember to learn from every experience, and don’t be deterred if you don’t get the first (or fifth) job you apply to. Treat every connection as an opportunity to gain insight into the job you’re striving towards.”

Earlier this year the Recording Academy’s Black Music Collective (BMC) announced a new, multi-year mentorship and scholarship program in partnership with Amazon Music. The “Your Future Is Now” scholarship program awarded three students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) with $10,000 and the chance to be part of a two-week immersive program with Amazon Music department leads. 

Diversify The Stage and Music Forward teamed up to promote diversity in the live business with an inaugural masterclass serries where its 2020-21 cohort participants got to connect with executives from partners She Is The Music, Women In Music, and SoundGirls. Along with the masterclass series, the partnership between Diversify The Stage and Music Forward includes one-on-one mentorships and paid internship opportunities.
Femme It Forward, which was initially launched in 2019 as an event series with panels and shows featuring all-women lineups, just kicked off Next Gem Femme, a mentorship program that will pair more than 200 young women of color mentees with leading female executives and entrepreneurs in the music, media, entertainment, technology, and social justice industries. At least half of the mentees are students or alumni of HBCU’s.
“The response has been incredible. We’ve had close to 1,000 mentees apply. The hardest thing is selecting those women because they all deserve mentorships,” Femme It Forward President & CEO Heather Lowery says. “We definitely plan to build for next year and bring in more mentees and mentors.”
Lowery, whose first job out of college was working as a receptionist at a recording studio, offers this advice: “Be willing to work in other areas of music and entertainment at any level to get your foot in the door, whether it’s marketing, promotion or label relations, management – anything. It’ll give you the knowledge and experience you need to be a more well-rounded executive. And I think once you get that opportunity to make yourself a valuable asset, you’ll shine and rise quickly.”