Hi everyone and welcome back to WIMI! While we took a week off, we're excited to be back and introduce you to Noamme! She's been kicking ass in the tour and production side of the music industry and you can read all about her below.
Introduce yourself to us! What do you do in the industry? Where are you from?
I’m Noamme Elisha and I’m a tour and production manager based in Brooklyn, NY. I’ve worked with artists including Sylvan Esso, Broken Social Scene, COIN, K.Flay, among others.
How did you get your start in the industry, and how long have you been in the industry?
I started volunteering at music festivals when I was sixteen doing anything I could. Throughout college, I worked as a production assistant for the Bowery Presents in NYC, primarily at Terminal 5. Shortly after graduation, I started touring with The Flaming Lips and have had the pleasure of touring with many other artists since. I’ve been touring full time for six years.
When did you know being in the business is what you wanted to do? Was there a specific moment where you were like “oh god, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life”?
At one of my first festival jobs, I remember standing side stage during The Killers headlining set and watching the incredible production. At the time, I was really struck by all of the moving parts and the sheer number of people it took to put the show together. There were thousands of people in the audience and I remember thinking, “someone made this all happen and that someone could be me.” It felt larger than life.
Is there anything you struggled with (or even still do struggle with) being in the industry?
Lately, I’ve been struggling with the work-life balance of touring. When you’re on tour, you’re functioning at 110% all day, every day. Coming home, being off work, and not having a routine is one of the hardest things to deal with. It often feels like something is missing. I know a lot of touring crew struggle with the same thing but it’s so easy to feel alone. I’m thankful that we’re having conversations about mental health as a community.
What is the best part of your job? Why?
Getting to work with a variety of different artists, genres, and crew keeps the job challenging. No two tours are the same. Talking with artists and management about their goals for the tour, putting together a strategic plan to achieve those goals, and then watching it all come together a couple of months later is my favorite part of the job. There’s something really satisfying about the fast-paced and tangible aspect of this work.
What advice do you have for women who want to get their start in the music industry?
Don’t be afraid to reach out to people or ask for opportunities! This is an industry that runs on networking and relationships. Cold emailing is ok! I’ve sent hundreds of emails that haven’t been answered and it only takes one person to reply for you to get a step up. As long as you’re professional and to the point, I find that most people are willing to help out. You just have to put yourself out there.
You’ve toured with some big artists, how do you handle those stressful days on the road?
When things get stressful, I always take a deep breath and take a step back. Shit always happens on tour; you can plan for everything down to the last detail but things always come up. I like to foster an environment of transparency and team work and I rely heavily on my crew. If something goes wrong, or even if someone is having a bad day, it’s important for everyone on the team to know that we’re all in this together.
Have you ever been turned down or not taken seriously because you were a female in the industry? What did you do when put into that position?
There have been countless instances where I felt like I wasn’t being taken seriously by a myriad of people - sadly, even other women. Just as an example, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a promoter walk into the production office and try to settle with the male drummer or guitar tech, even though it’s crystal clear that I’m the tour manager. I once had a photographer try and take photos backstage and when I told him to get out, he replied, “well who are you to tell me what to do.” That would never happen to a man.
I remain professional and direct. I escalate when I need to but I mostly pick my battles. I think over all, there is more awareness of women in touring but there is still room for inclusivity and equality.
What are some of your other hobbies? What do you do in your free time (which we know can be very hard to find)?
I’m a classically trained pianist and I read a lot. I also foster dogs when I’m at home for an extended period of time.
You have a mentorship program, tell us about that!
In an effort to get more women involved in tour managing or festival production, I started a mentorship program for young women pursuing careers in live music. There were so many people that helped me when I was younger and I wanted the opportunity to give back. I particularly targeted college-aged women and offer shadowing opportunities, help with internship applications, resume work shops and just general guidance. I’m working on scaling it up so that other touring women can start their own mentorship relationships.
You’re planning on going to business school, what are you goals with that?
Yes! I’m excited to start my MBA at Duke University in September. There aren’t many people in the music industry with business degrees, so I think having that background will give me the credentials and network to give voice to a lot of issues we’re currently facing, especially now given the coronavirus shutdown. The great thing about business school is that it gives you the opportunity to be surrounded by high-achievers from many different backgrounds. I’m going in as an advocate for live music and the goal is to find new ways to work with artists across all industries.
Where I go, my printer goes too!
What is the best/worst tour memory you have?
When I was fifteen years old, I went to Roskilde as a fan and thought, wouldn’t it be the coolest if I worked here? Ten years later, I came back with Australian artist Tame Impala. It was a great a full-circle moment.
Who is your all-time favorite artist?
This is always the hardest question! Recomposed by Max Richter: Vivaldi’s Four Seasons is my favorite record of all time.
What is something you can't live without?
This is going to sound crazy but I use Google Maps all the time. It’s the most used app on my phone.
Go-to Karaoke song?
Welcome to the Black Parade is a Karaoke classic. Always a hit.
Tea or Coffee?
I’m an equal opportunity hot drink consumer!
First concert you went to?
My dad took me to see The Scorpions when I was nine years old. I caught a drum stick!
What’s something that you always have on you?
I keep hair ties everywhere. I have thick hair and it’s a constant battle to keep it out of my face, especially on tour.
Who is your dream artist or band to tour/work with?
I would love to transition over to the arena pop world and work with more women artists. Sia, Lorde, Ariana Grande, Halsey - give me a call!
What does a typical day at work look like for you? (On the road and off)
On tour, I’m normally the first one up making sure we’re parked and the venue is ready to go. I like to wake up early and take a walk, maybe grab a coffee somewhere. Once we’re set up and loaded in, ideally the day should go as planned! I make sure everything I advanced is actually there and deal with any issues that come up. Then, I’ll go over any promo activity with the artist, get them ready for soundcheck and stage, and end the day with settlement. The last thingI do is make sure everyone knows what’s happening the next day.
Off tour, I’ll sit at coffee shops or in my kitchen working on my advance. I enjoy cooking a lot and going to farmers markets. I also meet friends for lunch meetings, co-workers for drinks, or make new connections with managers and agents in the city. There isn’t really a typical day but I try and stay active and social.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Eventually, I’m looking to transition into the music tech space to see how we can make the live music industry better. These big tech companies have so much data at their disposal and I’m interested in exploring how we can use this data to make touring more efficient or more profitable. Recorded music has Spotify, Apple Music, etc, but live music hasn’t experienced the same sort of growth or disruption. I think there’s a real opportunity for some interesting collaborations.
What do you hope to see done in the industry within the next few years?
This coronavirus pandemic has forced the live music to talk about what the future of live music looks like and what changes we’ll need to make for the health and safety of our artists, crews, and fans. Whether that’s temperature checks for fans at security or stanchioning off GA areas for better social distancing measures, there are lots of options to move forward but we need to see what’s sustainable. We’ve never been in this situation before. No body knows when live music will come back, but I’m certain that we’ll be more prepared the next time it happens.
This pandemic has also made a lot of people realize that the freelance nature of touring puts us all in a very vulnerable position. For the first time ever, we’re all at home and having active discussions about what works in our industry and what doesn’t. I’m hoping we can restructure tour staffing so that the crew professionals, like any other employee in the country, have the benefits and a safety net they deserve.
Lastly, what saying do you live by?
Kill them with competence!
Huge thanks to Noamme for taking the time to talk with us this week! We loved her story and if you want to keep up on her life you can follow her on IG here.