Claire Ginn, Talent Coordinator of the Hangout Music Festival
Meet Claire Ginn
Let’s Do This is thrilled for you to learn more about Claire Ginn. She hails from Rome, Georgia and originally moved to the Asheville area for college. Claire has been working behind the scenes in the Asheville music scene for years – booking shows, and managing and consulting for local and national-level artists alike. She is now the Talent Coordinator for the Hangout Music Festival, Oyster Cook Off & Craft Beer Weekend, in addition to being the Festival Director for Meltasia Music Festival.
Get to Know the Hangout Music Festival
Imagine listening to your favorite bands with your toes in the sand, surrounded by your closest friends; that’s the Hangout Music Festival. Located in sunny Gulf Shores, Alabama, the Hangout is the music’s ultimate beach vacation. This year’s lineup features Mumford & Sons, Twenty One Pilots, Frank Ocean, Chance The Rapper, Major Lazer, Weezer, DJ Snake, MGMT, and Sigur Rós, among others.
LDT: What path led you to Asheville?
CG: I went to Brevard College and after I graduated I went to Europe for a few months and traveled around. I met some friends while I was in Europe.
A group of six friends that I made in Scotland came over to visit me. I took them on a two to three week road trip around the southeast. While I went to school really close by, I never came to Asheville that much. I did on that trip and I fell in love. I moved here a week after I put them on the plane back to Scotland.
LDT: How did you get where you are now?
CG: In college I majored in Environmental Studies and Art History. I thought I wanted to go into museum curation, but that wasn’t a program that was offered at Brevard. I did integrative studies, put on art events and managed the gallery at Brevard College. I put on events and liked doing event coordination.
When I first moved to Asheville, I worked for a PR firm in Saluda. It was a hard commute. A coworker of mine worked for MAP, the Media Arts Project, and someone in that office was looking for an assistant – Steve Cohen. My friend recommended me and I started working for Steve. I did that for three years. I started in music management.
After that I started booking shows around town mostly at Broadways. I had never been a promoter, but I had worked on the artists side. When the recession hit, I didn’t know what to do – Broadways created a job for me to start putting on shows. I did that for five years.
Through that I got asked to tour manage, and when Sean O’Connell got the Festival Director job for the Hangout Festival, he needed someone for the first month to help coordinate the announce.
It was supposed to just be for a month. Then he took me on as part-time and I found another job I could continue to do until the festival time. The following year when it was announce time, I took it on again and after that first month I got offered a full time job.
Meltasia started three years ago. It’s the same scene that I’m already in. Meltasia is a DIY rock and roll festival. The first one was in Georgia then we took a year off. The last one was in upstate New York this past September.
LDT: What is a typical day in your life?
CG: My main job is… I’m always in touch with all of my agents, managers and artists for Hangout. Just seeing if they have any news that we can keep telling our audience and fans about so they can get to know the artists better. So when it’s festival time, they will be in love with all of the artists, not just the four they know.
I work on different promotions. I just curated a mixtape with fifteen of our artists. That went up on NoiseTrade last Friday.
I spend half of my day on the music festival and the other half on the Oyster Cook Off – recruiting talent and teams that will compete in it.
After work, a couple days a week I go out. A lot of our bands will be traveling through here and I try to go see them, make that initial face to face because I’m going to be asking them to do stuff for me at the festival.
That is my job – I’m a liaison between the artists and the Hangout.
LDT: What is your rose? Thorn? I.e. what frustrates or challenges you in your work? And what is the most valuable, exciting part?
CG: The Hangout is extremely well organized, it’s unlikely I ever run into problems.
There’s some weird side of me that loves that challenge. I love trouble shooting. I want it to go smoothly, but when Calvin Harris wasn’t able to make it last year… it’s sad for our audience, his team, our team.
I do enjoy the challenge, “well ok, what do we do now? We only have a certain amount of time to fix this problem.”
It’s frustrating when you watch your team working so hard on the decor and technical side and watch it just get literally blown away. That hurts your heart a little bit to watch. We throw an event on a beach and… It’s a challenge, throwing an event on the beach.
It’s all well and fun on the show days when you’re trucking through the sand and seeing these beautiful people in the sun, enjoying the music.
We all know how hard it is to walk in the soft sand instead of the hard sand. And you can’t wear flip flops. You have to wear shoes and you have to constantly dump them out because there is so much sand.
I’m burnt to a crisp… I look like Tom Hanks in Castaway, completely burnt from my head to the tops of my ankles, because I have to wear high tops.
LDT: What do you feel most proud about in your current role?
CG: I don’t think a lot of festivals have… I don’t know if each festival has someone with my role.
I think that it gives our production team and artist relations team a major advantage by having someone with my role. I create these efficiencies for them. I’m the main contact between the bands, their team and us. I can get those tech writers and tour management contacts, then I support our team and give each of the departments what they need. They have found it to be super efficient and I know it helps them out and that gives me a lot of pleasure.
Also, my job on site at the festival is to… the things that I do make the festival pop for the attendees. Surprises on the shuttles, inflatables, we do the VIP upgrade… My job is to make the attendees cry tears of joy and it’s extremely satisfying to watch them be so happy.
LDT: What is your target audience? Who do you work with?
CG: Our target audience for Hangout is college or recently graduated, that 22-27 year old age range.
For Meltasia, it is anywhere from 19 to 40 – it’s rock and roll.
LDT: What is your outlet from work? What is your passion, what gets you out of bed in the morning?
CG: I love my job and I love what we do. We’re putting on a party and I love partying.
LDT: How do you maintain work life balance?
CG: Mine is all the same. My outside life is the same as my work life in a way because it’s networking and dealing with the music industry. That’s my outside life and my work life.
LDT: What do you want to do next? What is your next goal or initiative?
CG: I hope that… I would like to take on more projects. I really like working with females and way down the line it would be cool to see an all female production company.
LDT: What kind of connections are you looking to make or need?
CG: As far as Meltasia, it’s so in the beginning stages… If there are people that want to connect that have a little experience in different areas like sponsorship, web development or social media content that are just trying to get a foot in the door in music – we would love to connect with those kind of people. You wouldn’t be doing it for the pay, but it’s being a part of a team that’s dedicated from the beginning to seeing this succeed.
LDT: How do you think your market is going to change in the next 5 years? 10 years?
CG: Well, I’m really unsure about that. I didn’t really think that live shows were going to ever be doing too much changing. I didn’t see that. Production-wise, my mind has been blown over the past few years.
I never expected holograms to be a part of this. I never thought Tupac would come back from the dead in the form of a hologram. I never would have imagined Kanye’s floating stage. I never would have thought of what Justin Bieber and Beyonce have incorporated into these live shows. I really can’t wait to see where these production teams, artists and creative folks take it.
On the Meltasia side of things I see, with the current administration, the type of music at those shows.. I see them getting bigger and bigger because I think people need a release now more than ever.
A lot of people are really angry and that’s kind of a bit of the roots of a lot of this music. I’m interested to see… I feel like that punk scene will grow and grow.
A lot of these events and local shows – the money is going to benefit. It’s going towards a cause and people want to come out and support that. For example, in the local venues everyone is chipping in and saying we’ll do a benefit for Standing Rock here, or there. So many people are going out because now is the time and people are realizing now is the time for me to do something. I have to do something, I have to do this.
If that mentality keeps up, the live show market is just going to keep getting bigger – in the independent scene.
LDT: Where would you like to be able to put more time/focus on more?
CG: I feel like it would be beneficial, but I never take the time to get to know the other departments of the festival because I’m so in the zone.
I know on-site on event days, I have to just do my job. Everyone is there to do their job. There are so many things I don’t know, that I would like to know more about. There’s a million departments. It really take a village – there’s waste control, security, credentials, ADA, and it takes all of this.
Every single department is essential for it to be a success and for it to run smoothly. I wish that I knew more about some of the other things. It would be nice to know what my coworkers are doing. Every time I help out in some way and learn more about another department so many other things make sense to me. There are so many more things I could be helping out with – helping our attendees, co workers and staff – if I could point them in the right directions. Sometimes you don’t know and you can’t answer those questions.
Question from Previous Interview
Patrick Conant, Co-Owner of PRC Applications
Patrick Conant is also the former Co-Captain, now Member of Code for Asheville who is a Full Stack Web Developer, increasingly a community organizer and an open data advocate. Article coming soon.
Patrick Conant: What do you think is the biggest thing that could be done to build a better Asheville over the next five years?
CG: I think everyone is collectively coming out of their comfort zones and just joining the community as a whole.
If everybody can take a deeper look within themselves at what their expertise, and strong suits and what they have to contribute in working with fellow people. I’ve started doing more than I’ve done in my life – going to more benefits and educating myself, meeting people and getting inspired or mad at what’s going on. Figuring out, not just showing up, but figuring out what I personally can do and what fellow folks can do. What I can personally contribute. I can work with bands – if someone wants to put on a benefit, I’ll book the bands, I’ve got those contacts. That’s just me in my field. If someone is wanting to put together a coalition, I can do this side project and donate my time to build this website for… somebody else. “Well, I can’t do much but I can make a bunch of lasagna for your meeting and feed the people that are working and doing this. Whatever you can do to help – I think that’s what you can do to build a better Asheville.
LDT: What’s your question for the next interview?
CG: Going off of my answer… what do you think you personally can do to make Asheville better? Not just in the next five years, but in the next year? Are you happy with the current state of things? If not, what can you personally do?
Let’s Do This! Stop, Collaborate & Listen
If you’re interested in a future collaboration or learning more about Claire Ginn, The Hangout Music Festival and Meltasia Music Festival, you can connect with them and follow their journey using the links below.
Hangout Music Festival
- Website: http://hangoutmusicfest.com/
- Facebook: @hangoutmusic
- Twitter: @HangoutFest
- Instagram: @HangoutFest
Meltasia Music Fest