A Week In The Life Of… Phaedra Watts, Festival Director

This week we caught up with an incredible industry powerhouse: music festival director Phaedra Watts! With her love of music and passion for the industry, it’s no wonder Phaedra was awarded the Golden WAMi at last years WAM Awards. By shining a light on the community and supporting emerging and indigenous artists, she is offering much needed exposure to musical talent in the Western Australian.

Read on to dive into the hustle and bustle of a week in the life of Phaedra Watts! Follow up with information on how to get involved in her world through our How to Apply for Festivals course.

A job description in your own words

Managing the Nannup Music Festival and all the little bits that come with that.

Weekly journal

To be honest, I don’t have a sequence to my days. They are all busy working on whatever is happening at the time or the moment and then picking back up where I was. Days become nights, nights become days… work is kinda always happening. Which is why we must love what we do.

My days could be a combination of artists applications for our following festival, to paying the bills as they come in. I might be working on a grant or hunting down more funding opportunities. Looking at what costs we can cut, or priorities needed. We are lucky to have a wonderful grant writer working with us at the moment, the relief this offers is huge! When it’s multiyear funding, it’s incredible. It’s so important to have time to be doing what’s needed and working on dreams and visions, rather than the stress of finding the funds to do them. Multiyear funding takes a big stress away.

Often I’m in meetings with artists, booking agents, managers or funding bodies, politicians, local government, arts organisations – talking festival, funding, the importance of things like the Nannup Music Festival – for the economy, the region the culture of a community. Not to mention the importance for the artists, their agents, the travel companies, music manufacturers, record producers etc. The flow-on from these events is truly massive.

Talking all the nitty gritty bits that are vital in our continuum, and the continuum of the arts world. We are heading into our 30th festival, so we’re doing ok, but it’s a constant battle to keep our head above water.

There are gigs to organise either at venues or house concerts, whatever can be done to assist touring artists and to offer the community of Nannup some great nights out.  We could be holding a wood raffle to raise some needed funds, or hosting a night of dance or a quiz.

I spend a bit of time traveling to help at remote events, where I tend to source some of our favourite acts. I also travel to state, national and international conferences, to immerse, learn and discover what’s happening out there in the industry and network! It’s so great to meet the people you have spent sometimes years in computer communication with, in real life!

I will meet with our treasurer and bookkeeper to keep track of the budget. Being a not for profit organisation, our budget is super tight. We need to be aware of every little spend. Booking our marketing and promotion, managing our social media, meeting with the shire, the police, the community, listening to complaints, sometimes praise, vacuum the office, try to tidy my desk. I laugh, cry and sometimes swear.

A fantastic admin officer and I run our office. We also have a contracted site manager who comes in at festival time. Committee members and so many incredible volunteers are such integral and vital parts of The Nannup Music Festival.

Over the festival period I am amongst other ‘bits’:

  • Sourcing/contracting/programming the artists for the festival
  • I work on venues, positioning and layout, and secure infrastructure bookings needed for these to take shape
  • Create a dedicated space and provide all artists related information for artists check in
  • Set up and decorate the green room space, which would include a running list and timetable with an inclusion of artist’s riders, time management, infrastructure, shopping etc.
  • Create MC files for festival and sponsorship announcements
  • Book and allocate all accommodation for artists and contractors
  • Sound and production – secure an agreement with sound and production for the festival and all NMC events, and work closely over the duration of all events making sure artists and sound production are all catered for. Collate stage info for our incredible sound crew (what legends are soundies!)
  • Sort the APRA license for the festival and yearly program, and submit all APRA forms and licensing agreements.
  • Obtain the liquor licenses for the festival and yearly events.
  • Secure promotional agreements and requirements, including all social media, printed media and radio interviews for the festival and other events
  • Work directly with the designer on all promotional and merchandise design and orders

Days off: the ocean, a road trip, a festival, a band, having a cuppa with a mate, a sleep in, hanging with my family or cleaning the house. My god does the home get a little deprived!

Highlights of the week (pros of the job)

  • Finding incredible acts that say ‘yes’ when you ask them to join you
  • meeting incredible humans
  • getting a yes response to a grant application
  • love notes slipped under the door

Lowlights of the week (cons of the job)

  • Being unable to contract great acts
  • meeting arseholes
  • having a declined response to a grant application
  • dealing with the whingers

Words of wisdom for people considering a job in your field

Go with passion, work with love and sleep when you can. Try not to cry mid-festival in front of everyone! But don’t shy away from the high five moments. Keep an eye out for foot massages. Praise your family and friends, as they will surely be on the ride with you. Be true; be real – and go for it!

To read more about music industry professions make sure to check out the WITLO archives!

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