With decades of experience and knowledge of the live entertainment industry, there was no better person to kick off Pollstar Live! than Ray Waddell, who spearheaded the three-day conference at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles known to be the world’s largest gathering of live industry professionals.
He took the stage to welcome attendees to Production Live!, the one-day companion conference that features panels on all topics related to staging live events, and put the spotlight on the people behind the scenes who “deliver the dreams, load them on the truck and take [live shows] to the next town.”
“When the geniuses in L.A., Nashville and New York sit in their conference rooms and Zoom calls and on the golf course and they come up with these great ideas … y’all are the ones who actually have to do it to make it happen,” says Waddell, president of media and conferences at Oak View Group, Pollstar‘s parent company. “[Production] should have a seat at the table in the earliest meetings instead of being told, ‘Here’s what you’re going to do for the next two years.’ It should be more about, ‘Here’s what we want to do and how do you think we can do it.'”
As the business continues to recover from shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is going through a changing of the guard with a new, diverse generation of hard workers stepping up and ready to take the mantle — a notion that Waddell believes should be celebrated and embraced by old-timers.
“[Production veterans] are my heroes, these guys that got it started and invented it,” said Waddell, whose goal with Production Live! is to facilitate the conversations needed between industry professionals to improve live entertainment production. “They figured it out, but I think it’s very positive — and a long time coming — that we’re seeing a lot of new people in the business that actually reflects the people that are going to the shows. … It’s way more inclusive out there now. A lot more women and a lot more people that maybe didn’t find these opportunities are now finding them, and they’re learning it and they’re figuring it out on the road.”
Waddell closed his thoughts vouching for the youngsters and imploring production leaders to continue taking chances on new talent.
“This new breed of professionals, they’re young, they’re diverse, they’re open-minded and — contrary to popular belief — they have a super strong work ethic and are mentally tough. It’s time that we offer more opportunities for folks to enter this awesome business. It’s not for everybody, but if you find out it’s your thing, there’s nothing like it.”