Alex Karatassa has forged a wild and wonderful path within the music industry. Ask her to describe her exact job (as we did below) and you’ll find it spans much more than a sentence or two. Working under Five Four Entertainment, Alex is the official Music Festival Curator and Activations Manager as well as an Artist Manager to three talented bands. If that wasn’t enough, Alex runs a whole host of weekly club events through Plus One Co., and also DJs in her spare time!
Taking out the award for Best Manager at last year’s South Australian Music (SAM) Awards, Alex has jumped on board as a member of the judging panel for 2020’s edition. The SAM Awards are an annual event to recognise, promote and celebrate excellence in the South Australian contemporary music industry. Award categories acknowledge talent from a wide range of music-based professions including Best New Artist, Best Studio Engineer, Best Music Educator and many more.
Read on as Alex takes us through a week in her busy life and shares her insights into how she juggles so many roles…
A job description in your own words
*sweats profusely* It’s a complicated one and I’ve never really been able to give my role a title, but here goes…
In a nutshell, I am an Artist Manager and Music Festival Curator and Activations Manager at Five Four Entertainment (Spin Off Festival, St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival, Stonecutters Festival) and Director at Plus One Co. Under Five Four Entertainment, I manage three artists Sleep Talk, The Beautiful Monument and Bearclaw Camp. In the festival realm, I help our directors visualise and book our artist lineups and manage and run the activations at our festivals/events. Under Plus One Co. I manage and facilitate weekly club events in 50+ venues across 25 cities both nationally and internationally including New Zealand and Japan. Some of my events include Taking Back Saturday, No Scrubs and Transmission (to name a small few). I am also a DJ! In a non-restricted scenario, I would be flying every weekend to a different city to DJ one of our events!
Hey, that wasn’t so hard.
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A brief daily journal over a week (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday)
I would like to preface this with the fact that my routine pre-Covid was very different and had a lot more PIZZAZ than what I’m dealing with now! Imagine a week full of: brainstorming our dream festival lineup on a whiteboard, thinking of new event concepts for the clubs, planning tours and music videos/merch ideas with the bands, scheming creative activations like photo booths, ball pits and art installations for our events and going through bizarre artist rider requests (we’ve been asked to provide anything and everything from Lego castles to framed pictures of Harry Styles). Every week was always different and between all the fun things there was a lot of emailing and admin every day. Emails, emails, emails. Hundreds of emails every day. That was my life.
Back to the current reality.
Luckily we still have some club events happening, so Mondays are all about focusing on the past weekends club events and the roll-out of events for the following week. We announce all of our club events for the upcoming week, get the ticketing organised and post on all social platforms. This often consumes the entire day as we have so many cities and themes scheduled for announce each week. I often spend the remainder of the day chasing venues up for settlement details, doing the budgets and reconciliation of each event (this often drip feeds into Tuesday). If the bands are touring, chasing feedback and settlements on the shows over the weekend too.
It’s all about the memes. I’m not even kidding. Today we spent the majority of the morning brainstorming content ideas and sharing and making memes for our socials. What can I say, it’s a labour of love and we’re in the throws of Covid with not much else to do. Believe it or not, I hired my last two staff members because they sent memes in with their application.
I’m still chasing venues for settlement details and working on those budgets.
In the afternoon we have a quick team brainstorming session about music festivals and continue putting forward ideas to facilitate a safe festival experience for when we return.
So we’re running a 90s quiz night! We’re trying to find innovative ways to activate Five Four Entertainment’s live music venue, Lion Arts Factory during this period of no live gigs in SA. We’ve done three quiz nights so far and they’ve been a great replacement for shows and it’s so incredible to see some faces in the venue again. Today I’m writing this quiz for the majority of the day.
The bands have had some great ideas for merch so I’ve sent off some designs and quotes to our printing company.
OOH MAMA. One of the bands is currently recording their next EP and I’ve just received some of the tracks in my hot little hands! Today I’ll be listening to this on repeat and making notes to send back. I truly love that feeling of being one of the first people to hear new music, this is one of the highlights of managing bands.
A big part of my job is also locking in all the DJs for all of our events across Australia and today I’m reaching out to all of our DJs to get them booked in for the month of Oct.
Have also put the feelers out to see how Japan and New Zealand is tracking to see if some shows are possible, but it seems they’re still locked down over there too.
We’re doing a big cheesy run-through of this 90s quiz today. Very excited to test the knowledge of the entire office.
For the rest of the day, I’m kickstarting some grant writing for all the artists. Grant writing is one of my least favourite things, but we have had really fantastic success in the past and received funding from a few different bodies, so it really is worth it if you can bring yourself to do it.
Lastly, I’m a judge in this year’s SAM Awards – which is always a huge honour and one of my favourite music events for the year, as so many great industry friends come through to Adelaide for the event. Today I’m going to take some time today to look through all artists, engineers, venues, and festivals and make sure I’ve got a good understanding of everyone’s endeavours. Being a judge is really fantastic because I get to discover a lot of new music and musicians that were flying under my radar. I also love discovering artists that are creating music that is completely authentic and unique, it’s one of the things that really stands out for me when judging. Plus I feel like the SA music scene is HOT right now, so many artists are creating really inspiring music and its just a pleasure to be around it all.
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Challenges and accomplishments in your week
Pre-Covid the big challenge was time. There was so much happening, I just needed more time and preferably a second me. Every day seemed to be the constant juggle between the three bands releasing music on the exact same timeline and cycle (c-h-a-o-s), trying to think of ways we could level up from Spin off 2019 (how does one beat bringing Childish Gambino to Adelaide for one of his last ever shows as CG?) and trying to get our club nights into more locations around the world and getting frequently knocked back.
Post Covid, the big question: How are we going to get the green light to open clubs, tour bands and run music festivals without the big V (that’s vaccine, not The Veronicas). Essentially we’re looking at new rules to establish a safe but enjoyable new norm. We’re currently trying to determine how we’ll manage social distancing in one of the most chaotic environments – we have some ideas and it’s going to take a lot of work and a lot of manpower, but it can absolutely be done. We’re bringing festivals back if its the last thing we do.
In terms of accomplishments, we’ve really been blessed to be able to run clubs in Darwin and Western Australia whilst the rest of Aus is still closed. We had the idea to take our nights regional so we’ve recently expanded to Rockingham, Geraldton, Dunsborough, Margaret River and Busselton. I LOVE WA <3
Highlights of the week
The best is being responsible for creating memories for other people! Knowing that the things we dreamt up and put into the festivals/events are things that people are going to reminisce on in years to come. I love the idea that we were part of so many different people’s journeys. I know so many couples that have met at our club nights, some that are now engaged and married and it feels wild to have facilitated that kind of magic. This feeling kinda stays with you all the time from week to week. On festival day though its that moment where you take a break and you’re standing in the crowd and watching while one of your favourite bands is on YOUR stage and just thinking WE DID THIS!!
Lowlights of the week
The job sounds very fun but it is in fact very high stress and being stretched over so many projects is incredibly mentally exhausting. I have very little downtime and very little time for a social and personal life. It’s not a great way to be and I’m trying to make sure that when things pick back up again completely that I am prioritising myself to get that self-care vs kicking goals balance mastered.
Words of wisdom for people considering a job in your field
It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Sounds so cliche but it is the most accurate statement for music industry success that I’ve personally experienced.
My advice is to network, go to shows, attend panels and industry drinks, work the merch desk or the door at shows for side cash, tour manage bands, intern at music agencies, volunteer at music festivals or your local radio station etc, etc, whatever suits but just get out there!! The constant grind is a little bit about gaining experience yes, but it’s 95% about the people you meet and how they can help open doors for you in the future.