Brian Greenberg, Venue Manager at Tipitina's

Contributors

Brian Greenberg is the Venue Manager at the famous live music venue, Tipitina’s. The music club started out in 1977 as a simple “neighborhood juke joint, established…by a group of young music fans,” who wanted their favorite musician to continue to have a place to play and be seen [1] . Tipitina’s “has survived in an ever-changing musical climate despite changing ownership and briefly closing in 1984,” [2] .

Brian grew up outside of Houston, Texas. He attended Tulane University from 2000 to 2004, majoring in Communication. He explains his major choice by revealing the appeal of not requiring lab sciences. Communication was also appealing because of its broad nature. Brian received a business minor as well, in order to “become an adult,” as he says [3] . The appeal of Tulane was more based on the fact that he fell in love with New Orleans, especially the vibrant music scene that is embedded in the city. He notes that around this time, New Orleans seemed to have been getting more attention as a city with very rich culture, as opposed to being famous for solely Mardi Gras and excessive drinking. Within the first few weeks of attending Tulane, he recalls knowing way back then that New Orleans is where he wanted to live after school. Although never being musically gifted, he has always had an admirable appreciation for music. “I think that’s part of my draw to music; that I don’t have any musical ability.” Brian was introduced to Tipitina’s early on in his freshman year. George Porter Jr. was the very first show he saw there, saying it was a phenomenal show. “It has been my favorite club ever since,” [4] .

A couple years later, during his junior year at Tulane, Brian began searching for a summer internship. Not wanting to go home and work in a warehouse again, he found an internship at the New Orleans radio station WWOZ. Brian chose radio because he his brother was in radio at the time. He enjoyed the internship, but was looking for a part-time job on the weekends. It just so happened that Tipitina’s was looking for extra people, and Brian began working on the door staff checking I.D.s. He continued working weekends at the door throughout the following school year, as well as working another job at another radio station. Rising to the position of a morning producer at the radio station, Brian would pick up shifts at Tipitina’s when he could (mostly for big holiday and festival weekends). Leaving New Orleans for a year and a half in 2007 because of Hurricane Katrina, Brian had acquired a job at a radio station in California. He returned to New Orleans after the financial crisis in 2008 led to him being laid off. He picked up a few shifts during Jazz Fest of that year. About how he came to be the Venue Manager, Brian explains, “right place, right time; they had a management change and they brought me on as assistant manager… it was only about three months I was assistant manager before the manager ended up quitting, and I just kind of became manager…and didn’t screw up, so I got to keep the job… And I’m the manager still, six years later.” [5] .

When asked about his strong interest and appreciation for music, Brian states that he had always like the radio because that was how music was “broken out,” as he says, and continues to comment on music distribution nowadays, “people didn’t have the Internet. I didn’t get new music off the Internet. I didn’t have the Internet until I was already driving a car.” [6] . Before the boom and advancements of the Internet, Brian states that people had to listen to the radio in order to find new music. When asked about the benefits of working at Tipitina’s over another radio station, he explains that he prefers to work nights over mornings, and, with a growing excitement to his face, Brian says, “[Tipitina’s] is the party.” He reflects upon the fact that he no longer enjoys being the party-goer who needs to drink to have a good time, and he prefers the responsibility of “making sure the party happens.” [7] .

When he first started working at Tipitina’s, Brian was speaking to a friend, “I’d only been here a month maybe,” and he recalls saying to that friend, “Man I wish I could just be like the manager at Tipitina’s forever.” [8] . Reflecting on how so little time has past between that initial goal, to now already holding that position for six years, he says, “That was too quick…” [9] . It was always in the back of his mind to keep a relationship with Tipitina’s, and “As long as [he] lived in New Orleans… [he] would try and find time for this place.” [10] .

In terms of the implications of having such a job, Brian speaks matter-of-factly that his hours are not flexible, nor does he get weekends or holidays off. “It’s tough.” One of the notable drawbacks of his job is the effect it has had on his social life, in particular with outside of work friends, “Your hours are different… Not going to see the same people.” [11] . Brian reiterates how the silver lining of this drawback is, “it’s not work for me; it’s all enjoyment.” [12] . On top of his positive attitude towards his job, he discloses that if he didn’t work there, he never would have met his fiancé. “I wouldn’t change any of it.” He explains that part of his admiration and love for Tipitina’s is partly based on their community projects and foundations. The projects aim to foster music by ensuring that the next generations are educated in and get to experience New Orleans culture/music. Commenting on the importance of such projects, Brian states, “school boards, states, and cities are constantly taking aware from art in public schools…it’s the easiest thing to cut.” [13] . About his daily duties and responsibilities, Brian says his job is taking care of the little things that go into making a show happen. Things like: babysitting the bands to make sure they have everything they need; is responsible for making sure they are sufficiently staffed, have enough alcohol at the bar, and enough cash in the registers. He does a hundred little jobs throughout the day in order to prepare for the upcoming shows. Although not involved with any of the technical parts of the show, Brian is responsible for making sure the environment in which the show is being played helps the overall experience of the show. As we all know, people can be awful, and he feels as though it is his responsibility to “Suck it up and make it happen.” [14] .

This mirrors the sentiment that ‘the show must go on.’ Brian also explains how his duty to suck it up, and keep the show running, has had an impact on his ability to enjoy the shows he helps to create because he is trying to keep people (band, audience, staff) happy. Another sacrifice he and his fellow employees make – in order to continue working the job he enjoys and is grateful for – is the insufficient pay. On average, Live Music Venue Managers’ salary in New Orleans is approximately $38,000 a year. [15] . “[There are] seven or eight of us total, who this is our prime source of employment… I have a second job. [Tipitina’s is] most people’s second job. [But] this is the best second job you can have… it doesn’t pay well, but you’re hanging out at Tipitina’s.” [16] . This quote is characteristic of how Brian approaches his job; he values what he gets from his job, the satisfaction of creating and maintaining shows, more than he cares for the compensation of his work. But, as Brian said earlier, “it’s not work for me; it’s all enjoyment.”

As Venue Manager, Brian is like the maintenance guy that keeps the machine running and well oiled. He is responsible for making the necessary remedies or arrangements to ensure that the show will go on (keep the machine running). While at a show, we as audience member rarely think about the importance of the backstage crew and managerial staff that help to create, produce, and foster what goes into the making of a live show. We take them for granted. Without people like Brian – people who enjoy music and are willing to make the necessary sacrifices in order for the show to continue, for their own sake, as well as for the sake of others – there would be no show.

Works Cited

  • “History in the Music.” Tipitinas.com. Accessed November 5, 2015. http://www.tipitinas.com/history-music.
  • “History in the Music.” Tipitinas.com. Accessed November 5, 2015. http://www.tipitinas.com/history-music.
  • Greenberg, Brian. “Creative Worker Profile.” Interview by author. October 30, 2015.
  • Greenberg, Brian. “Creative Worker Profile.” Interview by author. October 30, 2015.
  • Greenberg, Brian. “Creative Worker Profile.” Interview by author. October 30, 2015.
  • Greenberg, Brian. “Creative Worker Profile.” Interview by author. October 30, 2015.
  • Greenberg, Brian. “Creative Worker Profile.” Interview by author. October 30, 2015.
  • Greenberg, Brian. “Creative Worker Profile.” Interview by author. October 30, 2015.
  • Greenberg, Brian. “Creative Worker Profile.” Interview by author. October 30, 2015.
  • Greenberg, Brian. “Creative Worker Profile.” Interview by author. October 30, 2015.
  • Greenberg, Brian. “Creative Worker Profile.” Interview by author. October 30, 2015.
  • Greenberg, Brian. “Creative Worker Profile.” Interview by author. October 30, 2015.
  • Greenberg, Brian. “Creative Worker Profile.” Interview by author. October 30, 2015.
  • Greenberg, Brian. “Creative Worker Profile.” Interview by author. October 30, 2015.
  • “Live Music Venue Manager Salary.” Indeed.com. Accessed December 1, 2015. http://www.indeed.com/salary?q1=Live Music Venue Manager&l1=New Orleans, LA.
  • Greenberg, Brian. “Creative Worker Profile.” Interview by author. October 30, 2015.

This page was last modified on 05 November 2015, at 04:50

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Tipitina's

501 Napoleon Ave, New Orleans, LA 70115