Ellen Kirk is a multi-skilled wunderkind with a typically diverse background in the industry. She has worked with a number of artist management companies, festivals, and music industry organisations including AIR, Blue Max Music, Bolster Music and The Hills Are Alive, and also has experience working as a freelance Grant Writer and Project Manager. Today, Ellen’s current role is at Look Out Kid, where she is Assistant Manager and Digital Marketing Coordinator. This comes with responsibilities including being the head of touring & logistics, as well as looking after merchandise, tax agreements, visa applications and being the day-to-day manager for the artists Courtney Barnett, Fraser A. Gorman, Sarah Blasko, Jen Cloher and Jarrow.
During Melbourne Music Week, Ellen will appear on Face The Music’s session The Manager’s Special: A Slice Of Life With 3 Of Australia’s Leading Artist Managers taking place at St Paul’s Cathedral on November 23rd. But for now, you can read on to see how a week in her shoes is like – This is A Week In The Life Of Ellen Kirk!
I work as an assistant manager at Look Out Kid alongside Nick O’Byrne and Katie Besgrove. We manage Courtney Barnett, Sarah Blasko, Jen Cloher, Fraser A. Gorman and Jarrow and also run a label called Barely Dressed Records.
I look after merchandise coordination, touring and logistics, visas, tax agreements and grant applications for all of our management clients. I also work on marketing, publicity, social media and anything else that might come up. Each day can be incredibly different, I work on lots of big projects over a long period of time like album release campaigns and tours, as well as small enquiries and miscellaneous tasks as they arise.
Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile are on tour in the USA at the moment, they played two shows in Seattle over the weekend and I’m checking on their merch stock. I work really closely with their tour manager to check how things are selling and predict how much stock we will need for the next few shows – then make sure everything gets shipped to the right venue at the right time.
I spend an hour or so Skyping with Nick getting updates me on how the shows have been going and on a few major projects that we’ve been working on for the last few weeks.
We’ve just announced a new tour for Jen Cloher in USA and Europe next year so I work with each of the promoters to coordinate marketing for each individual show. I’m also looking at travel arrangements for the tour and checking with band members about their schedules.
I’ve been pulling together all of the bits and pieces needed for one of our artist’s new album over the last few weeks – coordinating photoshoots, overseeing video clips, etc. I also work with the label and publicists to talk about some upcoming promotion opportunities and availabilities.
Fraser A. Gorman has a few shows coming up and I need to make sure his flights and transport get booked in, and that everything is organised for those shows. I talk to his agent and the venue about getting all of the info we need. I also check on his availabilities for an upcoming photoshoot.
I gather information around songwriting splits for some new songs and send them off to a publisher to get them registered with APRA. I’m also collecting information about where songs were recorded, who recorded, mixed, mastered the songs, who performed on them, etc and then updating the label about all of this.
This morning I have an early call with Nick to chat through one major project, followed by a call with a label. I then work through preparing everything for an upcoming announcement – making sure the video clip is delivered and uploaded, planning out social media, updating websites, getting artwork and images together.
I did a lot of research into limited edition album packages, merchandise ranges and online stores. I put together some ideas around to show the team, check what is possible and put together some suggestions about the artwork design of it all.
I finish off writing a grant application I’ve been working on, and get someone to proof read it before making some final adjustments.
I arrange for a tour poster to be made, collecting all of the tour dates, any logos and other things that need to be included and send off a brief to a graphic designer.
Challenges and Accomplishments
Overseeing merchandise for two artists (Courtney/Kurt and Jen Cloher) who are doing a big tour is challenging and also a big accomplishment. It’s challenging because I’m in a different time zone to all of the manufacturers, the shows, the band and tour manager but it’s really satisfying when it all goes according to plan.
Highlights of the job
I love working with the group of artists on our roster. It’s so much fun helping them do what they love to do.
Lowlights of the job
It can be pretty demanding particularly when working closely with labels, agents, publicists, promoters, and artists who are in different timezones.
Words of Wisdom
It helps to have a healthy obsession with the job.. or if you’re a bit of a control freak. It’s definitely a job that requires a lot of hard work and going above and beyond.
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