René Mark: Touring and Special Events
Introduce yourself to us! What do you do in the industry? Where are you from?
I’m René Mark. I’m from South Florida and I currently work in Touring and Special Events at Interscope Records out of the Santa Monica office in California.
1. How did you get your start in the industry, and how long have you been in the industry?
I majored in Event Management at the University of Florida and got my first “real” job working for the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami. There, I got a lot of really great event planning experience, including booking a small indoor music festival. I also decided to go back to school and get my M.A. in Arts Presenting and Live Entertainment Management. I went to class after work and on my lunch breaks. When I graduated, I was determined to work in the big leagues so I quit my job and moved to LA. I’d never been to California before and didn’t know anyone and really had no idea what I was doing. I lived off my life savings and interned at CAA. After my internship ended, I couch surfed and worked in retail until I got an opportunity to work at another agency through a connection I made while working in Miami. I’ve been working in “Hollywood” for three and a half years, but I think my real start into music goes back to my time working at UM, so in total about seven years. It’s important to note that my journey hasn’t been a straight line. It’s been a lot of ups and downs and successes and failures, and that’s totally okay.
2. When did you know being in the business is what you wanted to do? Was there a specific moment where you were like “oh god, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life”?
I was around ten or eleven. And I would spend all of my allowance money on CDs. And when I would get them, I would read the booklets cover to cover and study all the names of the producers, songwriters, managers, etc. I looked them up and followed their careers. I had a journal where I tracked the chart position and TRL positions of my favorite artists. I would come up with fake marketing plans and argue with my dad about releases. I truly thought I knew better than the label execs as a child! But I knew since then that I had to work in the music business in some capacity.
3. Is there anything you struggled with (or even still do struggle with) being in the industry?
This isn’t music industry specific, but I often struggle with imposter syndrome. Interscope is the coolest place to work and sometimes I ask myself, “How did I even get here? Should I be here?” I was just a kid from Florida with a dream of working in the music industry. But I just remind myself that I didn’t get where I am by accident. Every experience and connection I have is one that I worked for.
4. What is the best part of your job? Why?
The best part of my job is building relationships. As the touring coordinator, I communicate directly with artist managers, tour managers, promoters, agents, and venues all over the country. I also develop relationships with people in every department at every level in the label. These relationships aren’t just great for my career, but I also just genuinely enjoy meeting people and building connections with them, especially people who love music as much as I do.
5. How do you decide what labels, partners, press, etc. you invite to events?
Each department at the label gets to choose who they invite to shows with the final decision being made by an artist’s marketing team. It’s based on the relationship the partners have with the label or relationships that the label wants to develop between the artists and the partners.
6. Is there someone who you consider as your mentor in the industry?
Two of my former bosses who are kick ass women in music have been great mentors to me.
7. What advice do you have for women who want to get their start in the music industry?
It’s redundant, but connections are so important. Reach out to as many people as you can and don’t be discouraged when people don’t respond. Not all of them will stick or be helpful. But the ones that flourish could really help you grow. And don’t always be so focused on how people are going to help your career. Friendships are equally as important as business relationships. Don’t limit yourself to just music relationships either.
8. Have you ever been turned down or not taken seriously because you were a female in the industry? What did you do when put into that position?
I haven’t. And I know I am really fortunate. Almost every boss I’ve had in this industry has been a bad ass woman who supports the other women around her.
9. What are some of your other hobbies? What do you do in your free time (which we know can be very hard to find)?
I have always loved creative writing and have been doing it a lot more now that we’ve been spending so much time at home. I also play bassoon and tuba (I’m not great at either), but I hope to join a community band or orchestra once we’re allowed to gather in groups again.
10. How do you manage your time?
I write everything down in a day planner. I use my phone calendar too, but I feel like handwriting things makes me more organized. I also allot specific amounts of time to each task and prioritize based on urgency or difficulty. It’s easy for time to slip away from us so this method helps with my efficiency. This includes scheduling time for social activity and self-care.
11. How has your job changed due to COVID-19?
Pretty dramatically. With no touring, we’ve shifted our focus to non-traditional performance opportunities. Since it looks like we’re going to be in this situation for quite some time, we’re really focused on figuring out the best way for artists to perform in front of audiences safely, whether that be through live streaming, drive-ins, etc.
12. Who is your all-time favorite artist?
Beyoncé. And I’ll be an *NSYNC stan ‘til I die.
13. What is something you can't live without?
14. Go-to Karaoke song?
“Killing Me Softly” – The Fugees
15. Tea or Coffee?
Both. I’m a first generation Jamaican-American and Jamaicans believe that tea can cure any ailment, but I also live for a good cold brew.
16. First concert you went to?
Justin Timberlake FutureSex/LoveShow in 2007. And I haven’t missed a tour of his since. He puts on a fantastic show. The stage design and production are usually really unique and his touring band is amazing.
17. What’s something that you always have on you?
My mask! And a journal or notebook and a really good pen.
18. Who is your dream artist or band to tour/work with?
Beyoncé…yes I am using her twice. She’s brilliant and has no limitations. It would be a dream to be able to work anything she’s involved with.
19. What does a typical day at work look like for you?
Pre-COVID, I spent the first half of my day handling guests lists and ticketing for shows. That includes checking in with tour managers and venues for each tour on a daily basis to make sure that our partners can get in with the credentials that they need and troubleshooting any issues. I’ve had as many as a dozen shows in a single day. The second half of my day varies from day to day. I can be working on any artist or company event like an album release or the Coachella party. Or I can be coordinating logistics for artist promo. When our artists are performing in LA, I am visiting venues and meeting with tour managers to make sure things run smoothly when our partners and internal teams arrive. No two days are the same.
20. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Still working with great people and talented artists, but hopefully in a capacity that allows me to travel a little bit.
21. What do you hope to see done in the industry within the next few years?
With everything that’s happening (or not happening) in the touring industry right now, I am really interested to see the live performance industry evolve. While live shows are my absolute favorite thing and cannot be replaced, I would love to see live music become more accessible and I think we’re headed in that direction with all of the live streaming options that are becoming available.
22. Lastly, what saying do you live by?
Just do it!