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The New Music Biz: Bands, Brands, Managers, & Tours

Lesson 7 of 13

Kevin Lyman's Career Story

Kevin Lyman

The New Music Biz: Bands, Brands, Managers, & Tours

Kevin Lyman

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Lesson Info

7. Kevin Lyman's Career Story


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3 Day of Show and Q&A Duration:20:26
5 Damon Atkinson Interview Duration:17:58
7 Kevin Lyman's Career Story Duration:24:33
8 Recording and Distribution Duration:10:21
9 Jake Round Interview Duration:43:54
10 Being an Entrepreneur Duration:30:10
11 Andy Biersack Interview Duration:45:16
12 Mike Kaminsky Interview Duration:24:26

Lesson Info

Kevin Lyman's Career Story

Now we're gonna talk about kevin's career story, and I'm going to click through okay, so you fell in love with concerts in college? Yeah, you know, e o really? It was like I had no career path, to be honest, I worked with youth groups and I worked on was probably the direction of becoming I went to cal poly pomona. So is the educational thing, but I went to school and I really didn't know what I wanted to dio I just wasn't. It just was different than to you didn't have to have your your paths. Now I have to be so defined, and I saw that with my daughter when she was getting ready to come out how they want to know what you want to do with the hell knows what you want to do when you're eighteen years old. In my book you want have options? I went, I went to cal poly pomona and I became a recreation administration because I get to hang out of the pool all the time. It was great, but one day there was a band playing on campus and I wasn't going to shows when I was younger, really, it wasn't...

, you know, we were in. East of los angeles about an hour and there was about fifty guys fifty guys and girls standing there watching this band and I was like, wow, live music is awesome and I've seen a bit of it, but it hit me in my heart and ultimately say the threat of your heart is the way you should follow and I just fell in love with live music I started hanging out with certain people around campus they said can I help put on the concerts? They're like sure you can help push the speakers over get involved I had a van so was eighties kind of cruiser vans tracked you and then you know so we could load that van up and drive thursday nights to go into l a to see bands and that was a scene that was going on there the go go's, the plame souls these bands were playing in the clubs and just the passion for life but I just got in that live music experience, you know? You know, back then they were called slam pits, you know, it wasn't much pits, it was like you were just the energy of the live show just was everything I was into start putting on more school and then we just became and I graduated college and I had no idea what I was going to even when I graduated I knew so little that when I was graduating I showed up to graduate with the bachelor of arts kids and they said no, you've got a bachelor of science degree come back in six hours, you know, things like that so I moved to hawaii and I ran a weight loss camp for girls are model was lose weight, get a date, get a tan, get a man so it was like it was just still taking not life too seriously and I came home broke, but I'd worked that experience in college we work shows and it just so happened I went to school with a guy named paul to let we can talk about later, but he now was the guy who founded coachella and ron coleman, who worked for sst records and all these kind of things that there was a lot of guys that fell in love with live music and we'd worked shows by then in college were putting on a lot of shows we're bringing way too many shows to our campus I work at a community college right up the road citrus college giving away quarters at night basically, my job is to give a change I found a p a system we started setting it up were doing two dollars tuesday punk rock might shows in the students enter business model two dollars tuesdays we gave each band of dollars what was left for us? I didn't have anything but I got I cleaned up the student center before the administrators found out andi made relationships I made enough relationships I came back from hawaii pretty much broke and someone said, hey this new promoters doing all these cool bandstand offenders ballroom and why don't you go down there? She needs a stage manager you'd be great at it and that's where came to reading was right when band start to putting these writers attached to their contracts and I could read we want a little bit of this kind of sound we need in effect we wanted for twenty four channel board with at least eighteen channels working on all these kind of things and I was getting a reputation through this promoter who wasn't making any money too teo do a good job then she did a co promotion with golden voice, which was the company paul tell that was working for and I became their guy and I realized right away I never wanted to become that guy we talk about that guy all the time you know that guy that bums your night out of the venue, the guy that burned out of the club we all know that guy doesn't want to be there doesn't want to be there but that's where he's gotten stuck he's been mean to ban says he's, always wondering why he's never going on tour so if you're working in a club somewhere out there be nice to the bands that come through they all talk and they don't want to know about the asshole everyone knows about the asshole sound guy don't be that asshole sound I be the sound guy that's prompt helps out the best you can does the best for the band you're going to get recognized and asked to go on the road you're going to move up in the world don't be the burnout I didn't want to become that burn out and I got to a point where I was working three hundred twenty four shows a year I was the guy that everyone wanted to work there shows I was overseeing different venues and working working and that meant working setting up the dressing rooms, throwing people off all stage all night, loading the gear out going to bed for a few hours trying to stay grounded at the same time l a was a crazy time during the eighties read those books about the sunset strip I was in the middle of it but I always drove an hour back to claremont every night we drive back and I'd wake up by a stream or in the mountains somewhere and then I'd go back into the mayhem of l a um you know not perfect in this world I made it through a time when a lot of people didn't I saw the drug addicts, I saw the craziness of it, but I was kind of that grounding stone at those clubs that was their positive, and I got a lot of my jobs. Later on, stone temple pilots goes, I know why'd you hire me as production manager? They were going, you're the first guy that was next to us. You know, you gave us a pizza, you helped us load our gear, you did what we I had hoped would get done for us, but then no one was doing it, so I worked close forever nineteen, ninety one. I'd never been on the road, except for one night. I went a couple nights, I went out with the untouchables, but I was supposed to drive at night and I couldn't drive almost crashed. It killed everyone, so I couldn't go on the road. And in nineteen, ninety one uh, perry farrell, jane's addiction. I've been doing lots of shows around alec is a really exciting time. We were transferring kind of the punk scene was kind of this alternative music scene. K rock was actually playing these bands when they were, you know, they're playing him now, but they're like fifty years old, but the pants are you know, fresh and knew there was a super exciting time in l a, and it was just like we're doing seven nights with jane's addiction of the palladium and four nights with the ramones over here really working hard lot of fluids that came to me and said, we want you to be our first stage manager. Um, I'm like, I've never been I didn't never been out, I never been on tour, and I go out on this big tour out into the desert. This is that crash and burn moment when you realize that to start delegating authority. I was so used to doing everything in those clubs because I only have one or two guys helping me do everything here was a moment in time where we had security with you. I thought I still had to do everything one hundred fourteen degrees out in the desert. I've met iced tea, we became good friends out there. We still remain to this day, that's a relationship I still have with him, but I worked so hard for the second show, I dehydrated, I was going, I'm going across the stage and crashed and burned into a pile of towels, all the old crew guys goes, oh, there's, the hotshot done. No, I don't want to pick me up. They wanted to kick me, get rid of me if they could. They didn't want this new guy with all this enthusiasm out here on the road. They were kind of bitter old road dudes that they're doing this a long time and pulled myself up pulled it together. You got to do that tour was amazing. Ninety one lollapalooza finished up here in seattle, actually in the range. I remember that day just pouring rain in the hallway and went home and went right back to work in the clubs. A lot of people said, I can't do that anymore remember that you're never too good to go back and do something that's a threat here. I went right back and realize where my roots were, and I started working in the clubs again and venues lollapalooza continued until I was being, by one point, a lot of clues. I was being paid more money department I learned how the department alive, I was getting paid more money as an artist liaison. They wanted an artist liaison because they really didn't want to deal with the bands, so he's going to pay more money to play, teach the monks basketball that we're traveling with the beastie boys. Then I was when I was doing all the jobs out there, and I realized I don't want to come out, what am I now like? You know, you know, I'm not going to be this, so around nineteen, ninety five, things were changing in my life and there's always going to this change and flow in life had been married, and we're expecting our first child, sierra, and we went, I was sitting in the snow one day and said, lord spark and that comes to you, and I've been doing the other shows and working for other people like, oh, I don't want to do this forever, maybe it's time to get that really job. So you're going to hear that all your life that really job, um, your parents are going to ask you what's that we are going to get a real job. I still get asked that sometimes they're never getting a real job. Um, and I was sitting in the snow and I was sitting with a guy named greg. Teal was a dear friend of mine still to this day, and I could man this whole lifestyle that were part of I had just gotten perry farrell would now has been porno for pyros to play the mountain song. And I always find when I hear get something really cool music lead inspires me for something else. So perry played mount song, we did this big board across snowball fight broke, I'm throwing, people have stage exhausted, we have to take the whole stage off the mountain, you know? And I'm sitting there going, you know what? This whole lifestyle, skateboarding, surfing, everything that we've grown up with in southern california, we've been doing events where we would do it more localized with golden voice, we're doing shows where we would have skateboarding music and I said, you know what? I got to do this, I got to go take some friends, let's, go across the country and step a skateboard ramp and do this one last thing in my mind. My last thing in the music business before I went and got that nine to five job because my responsibilities were changing and I thought, financial, you never get a paycheck. I was always earning money. It's always you find in this business, if you like a steady paycheck, we never talked about that consistency. Hustling for gigs. I called a few friends literally what came together in march, we were march twenty four, there were like that, and we're on the road. I made some mistakes and launching this tour originally was going to call the bomb, and we're going to announce it on the day of the oklahoma city bombing, so not a good time, not intentionally, not intentionally. It just happened. A lot of things transpired that first year went to a few bands that you know, trusted me from the car, and I thought they were awesome bands, I don't realize not many other people did. I went to bands like sieve and quick sand and sublime and no doubt seaweed from appear, and they all those were the bands that knew me from the clubs and said, what the hell? We don't have anything else going let's? Go see what is their d'oh. We all piled on buses and we went out and it became the work tour, and the warp tour was a name of a magazine transworld publication that comes down to relationships. I'd help them with so many events that when I couldn't get the name and clearances and all this problems and the bomb, and it was like I called francis, can I borrow the name of your magazine? I'll never put out a magazine if you never put out a tour, and I got the name warden from him, uh nineteen, ninety five. Timing is everything I think people were open to fresh ideas I think a lot of people thought I was doing a good to be lollapalooza all over again because they knew my association with working on that I was trying to something different we went out and I'm glad it wasn't called the bomb because the bomb bombed it would have been the bomb bomb known as the buying a bomb and different timing and spaces that tour would have been pulled off the road within a two or three days um goes back to your history in life where you build up relationships and be patient I had twelve years and working that three hundred twenty four shows a year and helping people in working towards people's lives to fail what time you'll get a chance to fail you build up I got a chance to fail because I'd help so many other things that you did not sell tickets that ticket was not that was a tough tour but everyone kind of looking and goes this is cool it's different the guys out there working his ass off let's like so the second chance and word spreads that whole thing social media I didn't really have social media back there my first email address was kevin warp today well dot com it still is and people laugh well well well it was working with kevin ward did you know it's like that but we still word of mouth maura mouth where the mouth got back to a band called pennywise who I called their agent said, you want to do war, please like, no way, no way we're not doing that friends of mine relationships down the billabong at that point where hey, kevin let's all get together, hang out! I'll make sure fletcher's here come down, do you see? Because they love the tour and we all hung out and, like, explained and he says, ok, we're going on this tour so I got a call that screaming that calling you by get because sometimes you have nothing to lose in line just what the health, because that whole protocol thing, if you got a call, the agents of work through pro, you'll learn about that. I don't believe it sometimes when you got nothing else to lose, you just got to get something done. I had nothing to lose, so I so the agent calls and screams at me who's now was that my office put out a laugh about it? He would scream at me like you went around protocol. I can't believe that now I have to book my band on my tour, so panning wise did that went hung on an alley with when I hung out in an alley with no effects they agreed to do the tour I didn't have any money to put this to iran really I was broke ass on this thing and my ex partner at the time had convinced me that a great partner sponsor from this would be calvin klein calvin klein and I wish I had I was fran she's an artist and she do a skateboard ramp with count with said calvin klein worked to her on it think about the timing and sponsorships back then if I had gone and got so they flew to new york for two of his time and got stuck in a blizzard on the runway in new york the meeting's canceled got delayed a couple days I got a call from a company called vans that said can you come down for a meeting come down for this meeting is going to this room I'm all excited talk about my concert tour walter schoenfeld who was from the seattle area to help start a lot of businesses appear came into the room I didn't realize he wanted to really interview me about going to work for vans to help him with his amateur skate contest I'm like no no no you won't have anyone see amateur skating unless there's this really cool music festival I produce and it's so successful why don't you be part of it and I had that just went for sometimes you just got to go for it again and I walked out of there with them it's my title sponsor fans work to her on the way out he says kevin I need six things done in europe sure, no problem I didn't even have a passport way did figure out how to manage to go out and do six shows in europe that summer steve andorran who's still the reason there's times I could take in more money early on people came to me and said it was steve and joran that I stuck with because he was so peaceful passion about the band's brand and he helped guide, you know build what I am till this day and he's still someone you should learn about in your life about branding if you're going to van just how passionate he was about the brand so vance worked or um you billed as an entrepreneur you start building in that work it starts costing you more money you want to be creative, you have a business starts costing more money I emerged one time with one of these some people and only time I ever worked for someone else they merge us all together was gonna be creative people we're going to create awesome things I did walk through the hallway the first state week there and met t bone burnett who told me about this little sound track he was putting out called o brother down from mountain and I said, they sound like punkers from the appellations. Let's do a tour around it. So we got to put it to her around that soundtrack, which is fantastic. I met sasha and digweed, and we did. I did one of the first electronic music touring tours. Okay, so, mortal. So the mortal was a disaster moment. I realized I can't work for anyone else. I have to work for myself. I'm gonna make it on my own. Terminally unemployable. You better learn out if you are. Some people are I am unemployable. Then we went over to the management side on, got their own work to her and I start bands were coming to misstate management management man. And so I had a management company for awhile. I fired them all on one day lesson. Jake was doing a lot make a lot of money. Atari's were touring the world doing being horrible and h two o you love but you never made any money from h two o and then he called me one day and someone had start telling him that I didn't have enough time for the band and we said, let's, just end it here it's no problem, so I closed the whole management company down in the day. I realize that management wasn't form a I'm not what people love management, but I believe people are adults and they can load their own gear and they can get their guitar fixed and I like big picture thinking so I had to go back and look big picture thinking I have detailed people that's what almost everyone's very detail o'ryan I'm very big picture thinking and there's trial on air in a career of figuring out what would you like to spend every minute of your day doing but luckily enough through different things I mean taste the chaos we saw that moment in time when music was changing and it is getting harder we go in the wintertime we capitalized on a national hockey league strike that gave us arenas for frieda plan that said no one's ever going to hit no one knows these bans the use my chemical romance no one knew those bands but we convinced them to let us use those buildings not pay rent because they had to keep employees working until we made money. We got a moment in time we're selling out arenas was awesome some of the biggest shows and most coolest things I ever did was on face the chaos rock star down from the mountain I told about sprite liquid mixed tour which is a failure and that's a deeper branding problem we can't get into these I'm getting numbers and minutes on me right now but one time if you're you know that's a failure I worked on and there's reasons why it failed watch it was a latin tour that I that I did rockin espanol really cool latin too are actually working on bringing that back I think there's a moment time where the indie artists started that they're becoming in the artist's off the majors and those latin bands wanted to I think would be a great time for the watch it tour to come back and then you know, rock star mayhem festival have a great relationship that came out of taste the chaos rockstar mayhem vessel seven years around still just does great business people love a big production, you know, but cool vibe backstage no yelling, no screaming old metal when I used to work medal shows everyone manager manager of slayer throwing his plate of food at me over something I just remember those days and I never wanted to be those people are yelling and screaming in our business is gone you'll find be cool be chill the world I live in everyone's pretty chilled and realize we're lucky to get to do what we do so we can work through things and you heard those george managers talking about it everything I do has a thread of philanthropy behind it where you can learn how to start giving back when you have nothing if you build it into the fabric of your life it just becomes part of whatever you're doing. When we started warped tour it was twenty five cents a ticket on every ticket from the warp tour they went to charity I went to charity off of every ticket ticket was only fifteen dollars to go fifteen fifty to go to the first fifteen, fifteen fifteen, fifteen seventy five but you just start in graining that and there's still that quarter that goes toe to toe charity every year when you do five hundred thousand tickets a year or more if that quarter adds up, it doesn't affect anyone does event the tour doesn't think that it's but it makes a difference adding in the five dollars guest list things you can do all the charitable things that can food drives we d'oh don't take away from our mission of what we're trying to do is a tour but we're trying to ingrain giving back to your community while you can and you can do this it it becomes part of your life if you just start doing it and then as you do better in your life you can do more for charity and sometimes that chair you might just be time if you're on the road is, um abandon a van you got days off, find a community center or find somewhere to drop by and teach some guitar lessons in schools do something in your community because you know what, rock? We were all dirty rockers dirty catching parker, you know, everything was look view, but I think music now is it's not an evil word to save my kids in a band when I was growing up, if your kid is an abandoned by, you know, building around my kid, uh, by that access to more music parents are more open to it. I decided, like, a couple years ago that parents get in free to the warp tour there's some backlash about, like, with this work and kids wanted I believe I was watching and is watching trends in society and things. And I say, you know what? Economic times really hard parents learned how people have learned howto hang out together as families, and if I could give the warp tour and the parents get to save a little money coming to their kids, they're going to realize that this lifestyle is pretty good. So, you know, I think guidance of charity we're gonna be working with it with the entertainment institute right away from the beginning right now, it's all money out on this project, but we're going it's money, you know, from the beginning, we're gonna be getting involved in that this united united is my foundation I'm partners of sidelined dummy records, it's allowed me to be part, they're allowed me to sign bands like better when sound class or big d, some of these bands on there, I don't run that business day today, we have great people that run that business, but my knowledge is welcome and involved and it's kind of pretty cool, you know, it's fun for me to get to be involved that's really fun, his side one's transitioning from guys who ran it, they're releasing, um, they're releasing the control of the company to a younger staff. Now the younger people and honor and we just did a whole bunch of signings that, to be honest, we're totally new bands to me. They sent me over the list, I played the music on the plane, I'm like sending it on the plane, not appeared fine in new york and had internet like thespians, awesome that's great signing, this is awesome, ongoing it's good to see and but they can come for me for mentoring now, I think I think I'm not appeared anyone and a lot of people, the business anymore, I'm either a mentor or disciplinarian, pretty much that's my role, so, you know, side, we're coming, what we started to do now is take it into other other other things I'm involved in this is a really awesome company I was involved in some of the early beginnings of hurley and volk um in those companies this is a brewery started by surfer skaters, music people we hired the best brewers in the world that we could find available to us to make the best product kind of a model don't put your hands on the hops, let them make the best beer we can take all our branding knowledge and how we do it clean lines nice logo, great product kind of the same thing you did with music good songs you know were doing that and it's it's an amazing it's amazing to be part of this company right now I'm really more I'm putting a lot of time into that because it's fun goes back to that fund having fun in doing this right now cos growing it's you know, like thirty thousand cases a month just in southern california we're going to go to another fifty up to fifty this it just like this time and people are excited about the brand and I go you know why? Because we have a great product it could look good, you could have everything you want, but at one point they drink the can because you're cool and you're a surfer and whatever, but if it doesn't taste good, they're not coming back you're you know, if you put on a tour by put out the warped or some people I could cut back and probably make more money I really could jen knows that they see the books out there crazy you're spending you just spent money to bring emily autumn and her trap he's is out here and things like that I thought that was cool and I thought that was fun and I get it was cool and find it was cool if I'd expensive go home for a few days things yeah sometimes cool fun things cost something yeah, but you know what? I think it it's it's evolving you know, we're going to have a comedy tent on warp tour this year I think comedy is evolving and young comedians are great out there and that's something that my friend joseph that side one dominates become a pretty well no community in the rock world down there and he's gonna help me curie ate that. So so it's just kind of keep involving your life and that's where we are we're wrapping up this little segment I think with the entertainment institute and this is something that I think goes full circle sometimes I say I wanted to be a school teacher in nineteen ninety five that was going to my option I sometimes say I built the biggest classroom in the world with the warp tour five hundred thousand people, maybe a couple million we influence. And if ten percent of them excel, that's fifty thousand eight students, you come out of your product program every year, and this is going to be an extension, and I get to work with a, you know, friends on a new project, so that's, kind of, and I don't know where the rest of it's going in my life. To be honest, I don't know. Everyone goes, what's your plan, and I go, I don't know. We'll see what what comes for. The best parts of my life will come forward. I looked, are coming down the road.

Class Description

You can have a career in music – in The New Music Biz: Bands, Brands, Managers, & Tours, Kevin Lyman will show you how.

If you want to make a name for yourself and make an impact in the music industry – you have options. Kevin is the founder of the Vans Warped Tour, Rockstar Mayhem Fest and the catalyst behind an impressive range of successful projects and artists. In this class he’ll introduce you to your (many, many) options for building a career in the modern music industry. Kevin will talk to musicians about getting on festival tours and about operations jobs for people who are looking to get in on the business side. You’ll learn how to build and maintain a professional brand that will open doors for you and help connect you to the right people and expanding your opportunities in a constantly changing environment.

If you are serious about setting yourself up for a lifetime career in music you’ll want to watch this course. Kevin will set you on track for developing and sustaining a career that lasts.

Special Guests include:

  • Andy Biersack (Black Veil Brides)
  • Mike Kaminsky (Manager of the Summer Set and 3OH!3)
  • Jake Round (Pure Noise Records)



Beyond one of the greatest, if not the greatest, music biz courses I've ever taken. So thorough, with great speakers, and included such rich information. I truly appreciated and valued all that was said and all the hard work put into it. It was by far a class that's still worth talking about! - Tori Otamas

Janice Jacobs

I loved this class, as it showed different careers in the music industry, which was so eye opening. It helps as a musician too, so you get a basic understanding of how promoting, touring, and distribution works, especially if you're doing it yourself. Very well spoken, and well laid out, I loved it

a Creativelive Student

AMAZING! I teach a rock band class for an option at my school and this covers a lot of what I wanted to do. I particularly like the PDF showing what job in the industry would be best for you. Great site, overall.