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Ava Sargente at the Town Ballroom
Ava Sargente at the Town Ballroom

Ava Sargente, at the Town Ballroom, site of her summer internship.

  • August 31, 2023
  • Roger Coda

“Always network and gain real experience in the field.”

That’s all the advice Ava Sargente needed from Music Industry faculty to seek and land a summer internship at Town Ballroom, a popular live-music venue in Buffalo, NY. Being in the midst of her first year at SUNY Fredonia didn’t matter. She did her own research of Town Ballroom and sent an email inquiring about an internship.

What Ms. Sargente sought was an all-around internship that ultimately leads to a career in tour management.

It’s rare for first-year Music Industry students to seek an internship at a large performance venue, remarked Career Development Office Internship Coordinator Jennifer Wilkins, but Sargente took the initiative, and has benefitted immensely from the experience. “She’s doing lots of events in a live, club setting, working in artist relations, hospitality. She’s getting to do a lot of day-to-day tasks – box office, marketing, production and learning how events are booked and set up,” Ms. Wilkins added.

I talked with tour managers and merch operations and learned different applications they use on the road, and they gave me advice I can apply to my own career." – Ava Sargente

“Her goal is to learn how to operate a management company and to improve communication with different artists and venues; she also wanted to see it from all different perspectives, and learn how these operations work as a whole,” Wilkins said.

Much of Sargente’s work, of course, revolved around tickets at show times – upgrading tickets, handling will call and distributing wristbands to guests, VIPs and photographers. But she also helped bands and their support crews. “For each band, there is an attached list of drinks, food and other things they would want backstage with them that is given to the Town Ballroom,” Sargente said.

An obvious fringe benefit is seeing lots of bands, such as rapper JPEGmafia/Danny Brown on their U.S. summer tour and Less Than Jake, a ‘90s ska punk band, among many others.

"It’s super interesting to see the crowds each group brings in,” Sargente remarked. “It was such an electric crowd,” she recalled the Jpeg Mafia/Danny Brown performance, “and it was really cool to see the way they hyped them up.”

Sargente was also excited to see Declan McKenna – she’s a huge fan. “The crowd was so much fun, and it was also cool to work around the venue all day where the band was preparing their show,” she said.

“I did this internship because my Music Industry professors always stress that in order to make it in the industry you have to always network and gain real experience in the field,” Sargente said. “Town Ballroom gave me the opportunity to interact with all touring bands that came through this summer. I talked with tour managers and merch operations and learned different applications they use on the road, and they gave me advice I can apply to my own career,” Sargente said.

It's important, Sargente said, to allocate enough time for every task. “If you work on a bunch of tasks at once, there's a possibility you can mess up and it can interfere with the whole operation of the show. I also learned the importance of communication between the group and venue.” Having all the reports, requests and other details in order “helps make things work a whole lot smoother between the venue and the artist.”

Working a variety of shows every week furnished Sargente with numerous opportunities to watch how a touring group operates. In the process, she gained insight on how to be a good tour manager and handle the duties she’ll have once the group arrives in the venue.

Sargente will also receive a $700 scholarship from the Edward J. Courtney Family Endowment and a $250 scholarship from the Judy Elwinger Career Development Internship Endowment, both established  through the Fredonia College Foundation.