Jessica Hair, Senior Festival Coordinator at Hangout Music Festival
MEET JESSICA HAIR
Jessica Hair is the Senior Festival Coordinator for one of summer’s hottest festivals, the Hangout Music Festival in sunny Gulf Shores, Alabama. Originally from Asheville, Jessica’s journey has led her to Charlotte, North Carolina, where she works remotely out of her adorable home alongside her pup, Mayer.
Ever wonder what it takes to produce a large-scale music festival? Read on to find out!
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 on the white sand beaches of Gulf Shores, Alabama, the Hangout is the music’s ultimate beach vacation.
This year’s lineup features The Killers, The Chainsmokers, Kendrick Lamar, Zedd, Portugal. The Man, Galantis, Cold War Kids, Halsey, Logic, Anderson .Paak & the Free Nationals, Odesza, SZA, Foster the People, Grouplove and many more!
Don’t snooze, the tickets for this summer are increasing in price at the end of this weekend. I wanna go!
LET’S DO THIS
LDT: What path led you to Charlotte?
JH: Following my now husband, as ridiculous as it sounds – I hate that. Luckily my position with the Hangout allowed me a lot of flexibility and I was able to keep doing what I was doing once I moved.
LDT: How did you start working with the Hangout Music Festival?
JH: I started out interning with my current boss for his old company. When he was brought on as the Festival Director, I came on with him and have grown from there.
LDT: What is a typical day in the life of Jessica Hair?
JH: I work from home three days a week and make a 2.5-hour commute to Asheville the other two days. On my work from home days, I usually get started around 9:00 and hang out with the dog all day, staring at my laptop for hours on end.
LDT: What is your rose? Thorn? I.e. what frustrates or challenges you in your work? And what is the most valuable, exciting part?
JH: I think working from home can be difficult at times because you don’t have a lot of human interaction outside of whoever you are living with and talking to on the phone. That’s probably the most difficult part of the day. I like to be around people.
But ultimately, everything and all the hard work that goes into putting on these shows pays off at the end. My favorite thing is watching people dance their asses off in the sand. It’s so rewarding to see people having a great time and know that you helped build that.
LDT: What do you feel most proud about in your current role?
JH: That’s tough. I think it’s… really growing, from starting as an intern to becoming a resource for a lot of staff members. I’m kind of the go-to person a lot of times for all areas of the festival, whether it’s marketing or logistics.
LDT: What is your target audience? Who do you work with?
JH: Our target audience is 18- to 35-year-olds. We skew slightly more women, but not enough to super focus on that.
LDT: What is your outlet from work? What is your passion, what gets you out of bed in the morning?
JH: I guess really the reason I was even interested in this field in the first place was a love for live music and going to shows.
LDT: How do you maintain work life balance?
JH: It can be really difficult, especially in the three or so months immediately before the festival. I do my best to set a time to call it a day, turn off the computer – close it and not look at it. Not answer work calls after that time, unless it’s super urgent. That really helps, especially working from home – separating out the day from work day to personal time.
LDT: What do you want to do next? What is your next goal or initiative?
JH: I honestly have no idea. I’m down for anything! laughs
LDT: What kind of connections are you looking to make or need?
JH: You know I’m not really sure… I think it would be super helpful… there’s not a lot of people that have my job – finding someone similar to bounce ideas off of and compare more best practices or systems that they’re using that they see that work really well. There’s not many people… within the festival world, my job doesn’t really exist at a lot of shows, so it’s hard. Our organization is super different than so many other production companies.
LDT: How so?
JH: Most other production companies have it broken out in specific areas of specialty – ticketing, marketing, credentials, accounting, all that stuff. It’s super compartmentalized. They don’t cross over each other too much.
But I have a hand, or dabble a little bit, in all of those worlds. Even if I’m not the main person executing the day-to-day tasks, I’m still a little bit in all of those departments. I’m legitimately doing all of those things for the Oyster Cook Off.
LDT: How do you think your industry is going to change in the next 5 years? 10 years?
JH: You know right now we’re seeing a lot of growth in the festival world. I think we’re going to see that start to decline because there’s just not enough room for all of them to succeed.
Over the next five to ten years you’re going to start seeing a lot of festivals start to cater to a specialized audience on a smaller scale or go away all together – the ones that can’t sustain. The barrier for entry on a financial level for this industry is so high… it can be tough to break even.
LDT: Where would you like to be able to put more time or focus more energies?
JH: Travel. I would love to travel more.
I would love to just go as a guest and enjoy more music festivals. But it’s so hard because the ones you go to have fun at – you’re still working because you’re always taking mental notes of things. Figuring out a way to disconnect your brain a little bit and enjoy it, would be fantastic.
LDT: What do you do outside of work for personal development?
JH: My scope of work is so broad. It makes it difficult to focus on doing my due diligence with industry standards in particular areas because there are so many. I don’t honestly do that much after work because I’m trying to shut off. I try to follow cool social platforms and groups to see what those people do to engage.
LDT: Do you have any favorite handles or hashtags?
JH: I really like @draperjames – it’s the Reese Witherspoon clothing line. Their stuff is super cute. Laughs
I also really like @dogsofinstagram.
LDT: Who do you surround yourself with?
JH: Well… Justin. laughs
He’s the only person I see every day. I’d say him, and family for the most part since I haven’t had a great work-life balance since I got to Charlotte. I haven’t made a super huge friend group, which is hard when you’re gone two nights a week.
Each interview on Let’s Do This features a guest question from a previous collaborator. This question comes from Liz Bliss, Co-Founder of Imagine Circus, a booking and production company based in Raleigh, that provides performances and shows featuring cirque-style entertainment, aerial dancers, acrobatics, fire performers, flow arts, theatrics, dance, music, costuming, makeup, creative props, and apparatuses.
Liz Bliss: If you had all of your financial needs already met, would you still continue on the path you are on?
JH: No, probably not.
I would step back to doing just a few select gigs, just to stay in that world and that kind of thing. I don’t think I would do it as a full-time situation.
LDT: What’s your question for the next interview?
JH: What’s the best concert or festival you’ve ever been to?
LET’S DO THIS! STOP, COLLABORATE & LISTEN
If you’re interested in a future collaboration or learning more about Jessica Hair and The Hangout Music Festival, you can connect and follow their journey using the links below.