My good friend Jeremy Quarles and I visited recently to discuss his work in the music industry working with a sound company as a professional live sound engineer and also as a road manager and production manager for different artists and festivals. In part 1 of our conversation we discuss how to go about getting a job working for production companies, the pros and cons being an independent contractor, building relationships that open doors for bigger opportunities and learning how to say “no” to things that distract from your true goals.
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*I was classically trained on piano starting at 4 years old.
*I went to Belmont University and focused in audio engineering.
*During senior year of college I gravitated toward live sound and reached out to Spectrum Sound and worked part time prepping gear and learning what the live concert industry was.
*I offered to work for free just to learn.
*I became a contract worker after a short period of time and they would use me for shows when needed.
*What did you do at a show starting out? I was at the bottom loading and unloading, doing low level audio engineer jobs like making sure the cables are connected properly and signals are getting to all the consoles, etc.
*It takes a lot of organization and forethought knowing how the whole system works which is why it’s an entry level position. Because you are having to learn how everything works and getting that general overview of how the system works before you get into specializing into one thing.
*Contract work has advantages – Flexibility to pursue other interest and jobs when work is slow. You’re not tied down to one particular company or job.
*Contract work disadvantages – You’re not getting healthcare benefits, you don’t have a minimum salary so your budgeting is up in the air when shows are inconsistent.
*You can move up the ranks quickly from loading and unloading trucks to running sound for events as long as you pick up on it because there is always a lot of work with concerts and events especially in Nashville.
*I was doing different jobs from the patch where you’re coordinating all the inputs and outputs, to system tuning where you hang the P.A. and tune it for the front of house engineers coming in whether the band was bring someone in to run sound or if it was someone from Spectrum Sound. I was a stage tech helping the mix engineer for festivals, then I moved into mixing monitors and front of house for my own festival stage.
*I was making connections along the way with the tours and the bands I was working with.
*I was on the Rock and Worship Tour with Mercy Me and Jeremy Camp and some others and when you’re on the road for a long time, you get to know people and make connections.
*You’re not doing it to make connections but you’re always in each others mind when things come up in the future.
*The music industry is a small pocket of people.
*I had a friend who was a sound engineer and road manager who asked me to fill in for a couple of shows for Christy Nockels which was great because I wanted to get away from the technical side and more into the personal side working with artists and artist management. So this was a good opportunity to give it a try and see how it went.
*That is what turned my thinking into road managing.
*In Christian music a lot of people do more than one job on the road. A very common job for one person is front of house engineer and road manager.
*My first full time gig as road manager / FOH engineer was Francesca Battistelli.
*At that artist level she needed a dedicated road manager and a dedicated production manager.
*I became production managing and running front of house taking care of everything production related.
*What is a Production Manager responsible for? Taking care of audio, lighting and video. Working with artist management to find out what they want on the tour, what kind of elements are needed. Being in charge of the lighting director, video director, audio crew.
*Also if management wants a light show for the tour, I would go to different vendors and hire them to do the design and come out on the tour.
*I started with Francesca as a production guy who could road manage and realized I wanted to be a road manager who could do production.
*That transition means turning down some work.
*It’s a scary position to be in because you have to say no to things that aren’t going to take you where you want to go in the future in order to get to where you want to go in the future because if you don’t, you won’t have time to do the things that are going to propel you forward.
Jeremy grew up just north of Atlanta, GA and has always had a love for music and an entrepreneurial spirit. In 2008, Jeremy moved from Atlanta to Nashville, where he attended Belmont University to study Audio Engineering and Music. Though many in the program were drawn to the studio, he found himself being drawn toward the road.
While finishing school, Jeremy began to work at a local audio company in Nashville, where he started working live events both in Nashville and abroad. Upon graduating, Jeremy worked his way up as an audio contractor working various tours and conferences and eventually started to work for artists mixing FOH and Monitors. While his passion for the music industry was strong, Jeremy’s passion for the production side of live events started to wane. This led to a time of self-discovery, in which he found a new passion – road managing.
Over a period of two years, Jeremy began to intentionally transition his focus from being an audio engineer who could road manage to being a road manager who could also mix. In addition to going on the road as a road manager, Jeremy also began advancing for artists he didn’t travel with as an “Advance Manager.” Since starting to work as a Road/Advance Manager, Jeremy has worked for many of the biggest names in Christian music, including:
Steven Curtis Chapman (current)
Love & The Outcome
Since late 2017, Jeremy has been the Road / Production Manager for Steven Curtis Chapman, which is his current position. They just completed over 100 shows on the “SCC Solo Tour.”
When Jeremy isn’t on the road, he is working as Project Manager and Director of Content at Peach and Pine Home, the interior design firm he and his wife, Chandler, own and operate. Their newest project is a podcast called “Love Where You Live,” a podcast about all-things interior design and home renovation. Golf is his favorite hobby, and his ideal afternoon includes a round of golf on a mostly sunny, 65 degree day and hanging out with his wife and close friends.