The story begins at Hotel Presidentti in Helsinki in June 2013. I’m behind KISS ARMY Finland’s merch table at the 4th Helsinki KISS Expo. I’ve got this. I’ve sold hundreds, if not over a thousand times before. Only the scene is different.
Fast forward to March 2016, I hop on Chisu‘s tour bus and start my first tour as a Merchandise Manager. Since then, I’ve worked on four full tours, done 111 shows selling merch, 31 shows as a Tour Manager, pre-production and advancing for two additional tours and some one-off shows, and 35 shows as a Stagehand/Stage Manager/Production Intern, plus additional setup and strike days. This may not sound like much compared to many professionals in the field but I encourage you to read on.
The COVID-19 pandemic put my life on a halt, just like it did to so many other live music crews. I was supposed to tour manage Art of Shock on their North American tour with Sepultura, Sacred Reich, and Crowbar in March-April. The tour has now been postponed until spring 2021. This happened less than a week before our tour was supposed to start. We were in the middle of packing for the tour.
I have a long professional past in sales, marketing, and communications in other fields before I realized I could turn my passion for music into a career. My first real job was with a kiosk chain in Finland. I worked, alongside my business studies, in customer service, selling various different products and services. After I graduated as a Bachelor of Business Administration, I was hired by UNICEF Finland as a Sales Assistant. I loved my work and was passionate about helping underprivileged children around the world and stayed there for six years advancing into more responsible roles in sales and marketing.
My last year before starting my transition into live music was with UNICEF at their global headquarters in New York running the Innovation Unit‘s blog. After that, I finalized my master’s studies in service innovation and design, wrote my thesis about concert live streaming, and graduated as a Master of Business Administration. Things didn’t progress that smoothly to the direction I wanted so I ended up working at MAKE UP FOR EVER Academy Helsinki as an Office and Communications Manager for almost two years. Alongside this fulltime day job, I worked concerts in the weekends and evenings, before finally moving to the entertainment city of Los Angeles 2.5 years ago to study music business and kickstart my career as a young-gun Tour Manager.
The sudden halt in the live music industry made me regroup and think about how to make the best out of the situation. Now that it was (and still is) impossible to tour or even do one-off shows I couldn’t just sit still and wait for the world to open again. I wanted to do something for my colleagues in this difficult situation and I started the interview series of showcasing professionals in live music. Doing something for my colleagues quickly took a step forward from the interviews.
I’ve had the idea of doing something merch-related for a little while already and I decided that now was the time to move forward. The idea started developing in my head when I was getting quotes for Art of Shock crew shirts for the now postponed tour and realized that options for reasonably-priced merch for smaller crews were very limited. In the middle of the global pandemic, I decided to intertwine my past experience in sales, marketing, and communications, my knowledge of band merch and touring, and my passion for music and helping people, and start my own business From Crew To Crew Merch, offering merchandise from one live music crew member to another.
I’m super excited to say that I’ll be launching my first merch item tomorrow! It’ll be something that will help you in this situation and hopefully give assurance that the shows will go on again someday. You can also use this item while working when we are finally able to tour again. So, stay tuned for another big announcement tomorrow!
Any guesses on what the first merch item will be?