The Maize Collective hosted their second “Industry Insight” panel series Wednesday night, inviting guests in the music industry to talk on their experiences in booking and promoting. University of Michigan students and local music enthusiasts gathered at the University of Michigan Museum of Art to hear about the challenges of entering the music industry.
Moderator Augusta Morrison invited the diverse group of panelists to share how their personal endeavors led them to the positions they have now in booking, outreach and promotion.
Working in the industry for over 25 years, Christine Kitora currently works as the talent buyer and event coordinator for Ann Arbor’s Necto Nightclub.
“My path was definitely not a straight line,” Kitora said. “For many people in the industry, it’s never been a straight line.”
Kitora and many other panelists shared similar experiences of working at small clubs and venues, eventually working their way to new positions and facing different challenges at every new place.
Kitora emphasized the importance of the collaborative work behind each show, from those who mop venue floors to those who prepare the wardrobe.
“Any organization, any venue, any show is only as good as the sum of its parts. It takes everybody,” she said.
Mark Jacobson, senior programming manager of the University Musical Society, curates jazz, international and contemporary art-rock presentations for UMS. He offered his perspective on what drives him through long hours and hectic timelines.
“The industry is hard,” Jacobson said. “You have to somehow fan the fire and keep the passion. At the end of the day, I’m certainly a fan. A lot of us are fans, that’s why we’re here. You have to love the music, and you have to love the art.”
Students and local residents from all backgrounds said they came to the event in hopes of gaining valuable advice from experts who were once in their shoes.
LSA senior Dyshon Toxey Jr. is a local artist who said he attended the event to learn more about the industry he’s passionate about. He said it was helpful hearing the panelists speak about the challenges they once faced and learned they all took non-linear paths.
“I’m trying to meet up with them, network and build more connections, just so that I can grow and potentially be in their position, and next year be the one speaking,” he said.
Jacobson also had some advice for artists like Toxey.
“Just keep doing what you’re doing. If you make good music and you’re passionate about it, people are going to follow you and come to your shows,” he said.
The music industry requires experience, and many students at the University, including LSA senior Jessie Baren, feel as though their classes aren’t preparing them properly.
“Coming into Michigan, there’s not a music business or entertainment industry classes,” he said. “So I think it’s really cool Maize Collective and organizations like that are putting on these kinds of events for us, because they are beneficial.”
Maize Collective founder James Roeser, an Information senior, said he also felt this frustration during his time at the University. Between his sophomore and junior year, he crafted the Maize Collective, a hands-on organization to help interested University students get the real-life experiences they need for starting careers in the music industry.
“There’s a lot of disperse music communities on campus, but no central place to learn what’s going on, or how you can get involved and meet other people, especially if you’re not in the music school,” he said.
The Maize Collective isn’t just for musicians. The club offers opportunities for growth in areas like art and design and marketing. Events like “Industry Insight” are meant to give students interested in all creative industries the chance to meet professionals who were once students like them.
“The stuff people are talking about is all applicable to other industries and areas,” Roeser said. “Most people have a central interest in music and creating, even if you’re not 100 percent going into the music industry, it’s also a great learning opportunity."