From the young age of 13, rising junior and music business major Maggie Cunin knew she wanted to work for the Vans Warped Tour. This summer, Cunin made her childhood dreams a reality as she served as the tour’s volunteer coordinator, directing 30 to 50 volunteers each day.
“Starting in eighth grade, I got my hands on every book, documentary, magazine… anything that could teach me more about working on the Vans Warped Tour. Eventually, those led me to learning about the music business program at Belmont University. Once at Belmont, I was able to dive into the resources in Nashville, and I met some truly wonderful people,” she said. “Warped Tour’s production company has offices in Nashville, and through a Belmont event, I was able to meet Allison Skiff who handles Tour Marketing and Sponsorship for Warped Tour. I honestly owe her everything.”
The Vans Warped Tour is a traveling music festival where more than 70 bands travel to 40 cities. Kevin Lyman, the tour’s founder, and Lisa Brownlee, tour manager, have been involved for the tour’s 21-year history, and Cunin said she has had the chance to learn from the best through her work with the duo. The tour’s mission relies heavily on non-profit organizations, service and making a difference in the lives of others.
Cunin tries to catch her favorite bands’ sets – Moose Blood, PVRIS and The Kenneths – as often as she can, but she has quickly learned that no day on tour is the same. Her morning starts when she wakes up on a tour bus with 16 other people and ends about twelve hours and miles later, with many surprises thrown in along the way.
Two great lessons have resonated with Cunin through this experience, one being the importance of flexibility. “Working on Warped Tour combines the challenges of an office job with the physical demands of working in 90+ degree heat every day. I have learned to be more direct, more assertive and a better listener. Even in stressful situations, a positive attitude and the ability to be flexible can conquer just about anything,” she said.
The second comes from slowing down and enjoying her time as a student. “I have the rest of my life to enjoy the workforce but such a short time to enjoy learning in a University environment. I think as students we often feel so pressured by ourselves to have five internships and two jobs, but my experience at Warped Tour has taught me to really enjoy being a student.”
In her position, Cunin recruits volunteers from the crowd to cater food in exchange for a backstage pass. She often sees fans’ eyes light up when, backstage, they realize they can make a career out of their passion – music. “I love meeting fans and hearing stories of what Warped Tour means to them. Answering questions and being a friend to tour attendees is such a joy for me. If I can help my volunteers have the best Warped Tour of their lives– to me that is a success.”
Cunin is also the production staff coordinator in Belmont’s Showcase Series and the event manager at Curb Café, which she says has given her the skill set to handle situations on the road. From small things like learning proper walkie-talkie communication, to larger situations like handling dissatisfied show attendees, Cunin said she owes her knowledge of live events to her time at Belmont.
“My advice to a fellow student interested in working for a large music tour would be to approach every single challenge with an attitude of gratitude. Feelings of entitlement or poor work ethic are not appreciated out on the road. If you have a willingness to learn and a respect for those around you, that is instantly noticed and goes a long way,” she said. “Rather than focusing on “networking,” focus on building genuine two-sided relationships with those in your field, and never forget to follow up with a ‘thank you.’ All of these skills become sharpened over time, and I believe that they serve students and fellow music-business hopefuls well.”
In the future, Cunin hopes to continue working in music and touring and is currently looking into the agency side of the music industry- specifically sponsorships and branding for artists. “Being on a music tour has been my goal for years now, so the fact that I am truly getting to live my dream is pretty surreal. My favorite part about touring is the fact that the people I tour and work with every day have truly become my family,” she said. “I have never experienced that kind of camaraderie in my entire life.”