If you want to lose a lot of money really fast, booking shows is a really good way to do it. Which is why I have a ton of respect for the few people who actually make some money at it. If you can put on shows for a few years without declaring bankruptcy, you can probably make it in just about any business you choose to pursue.
Tim Coleman is one of those rare people, a veteran promoter with shows under his belt that include bands like Veil Of Maya, Whitechapel, Stick To Your Guns, Agnostic Front, Counterparts, and dozens more. He’s also the living embodiment of the PRMBA, currently pursuing an MBA.
Check out his story, and drop us a line if you know someone else we should profile!
Give us your life story in a few sentences: who are you, what is/was your involvement in punk/HC/DIY culture and what is your “real job”?
I met my best friend/co-founder of Antihero Productions Dave my sophomore year of high school. I had been playing in a pretty terrible band at that point and we broke up, Dave suggested that we started a company that booked shows so we could get into shows free. From there it escalated to us doing bigger and bigger bands. We weren’t even old enough to get into the venues we were booking at the time, we just worked hard and we kept momentum until some of the bigger agencies caught notice of us and started routing us bands we were interested in. We followed suit for about 10 years before we decided to do something new.
Currently I am an admissions advisor at a university and Dave owns a courier company.
What did you learn from your time in DIY culture that has helped you in a professional capacity?
As a promoter I learned the importance of budgeting, price setting, sales projections, logistics, contract negotiations and a ton of other things that you can also learn inside a classroom. Outside of things you cannot learn in a classroom I learned the value of positive image within the community, the value of goodwill with other companies (venues, other promoters, etc.) and the importance of building a tightknit community when marketing a niche product. Most importantly, the biggest lesson they cannot teach you in a classroom is how to hustle. Hustle will take you as far in life as you let it. Even if it seems like borderline obsession at times, it can and will lead to success.
A few of the shows Tim has done over the years
On the flip side of that coin, the culture of DIY hardcore/metal is pretty different from the culture of mainstream business culture. Are there any bad habits or bad ideas that you picked up that have held you back professionally?
I curse too much. I’m not sure if that has held me back professionally because I have learned to control my mouth a little better with age. Sometimes I have a tendency to hit the ground running when I start a new project without much planning, but overall I feel like my experiences have helped me grow into the professional I am today. A simple realization that no one I work with has any clue about underground music kind of helps. They just know that I worked in “the music industry” and that helps I suppose.
What lead you to pursue an MBA, and how did you position your non-traditional background during the admissions process? I’ve been helping Andrew from Winds Of Plague with MBA admissions and this has been our biggest challenge.
There were many factors in my decision to pursue an MBA. First of all, the job market is tough, I feel like it will help me stand apart from many other candidates. Secondly, my wife is already working on masters degree number 2 and she’s 4 years younger than I am. I can’t be the dumb parent when we have children someday. Haha. But in all seriousness, I feel like an MBA is only the natural progression for me to move further in my career.
“Heavy music most likely saved my life and put me on track to become a productive member of society.”
I feel like my untraditional background really helped me stand apart during the admissions process. I was open and honest during the and basically said “I know I’m not like the other candidates you have, here’s why that is an advantage to me…” and kind of let my resume speak for itself. Not many people in their 20’s get a chance to say they’ve traveled the country/world, worked with international clients, and handled all of the facets that go into a successful show/tour/etc. so I feel like i spun many of the negative stereotypes of the subculture and spun it into a positive. I know that sounds kind of arrogant in a way, but Dave and I were fortunate enough to have a good decade before we called it quits on booking and promotion.
I only have a humble ungrad business degree, but I still found my classroom experience to be completely lifechanging because it showed me how to understand the fundamentals of how a business works. What’s the most eye-opening/mind-expanding/surprising thing you’ve learned or experienced in your MBA program?
For me one of the biggest surprises was seeing that a lot of my experiences in the hardcore scene translated over to the business classroom. I may not have known it at the time but I picked up a wealth of knowledge that I didn’t necessarily give myself credit for. It took years for me to realize that what I had been doing had real world applications. It was also pretty cool just to see the personal growth in myself, going from a 16 year old show promoter who didn’t realize I even had a business, to an MBA candidate. Ultimately speaking, heavy music most likely saved my life and put me on track to become a productive member of society. I’d probably be washing dishes or delivering pizzas still if it weren’t for the DIY culture and work ethic that I picked up through my experiences.