One of the Babes: Elizabeth Irving
Music-loving gals take note! This badass babe is literally the PR queen of her own EMPIRE.
Elizabeth Irving heads marketing at the Empire Control Room and Garage. Learn how this boss hustled to the top, networking her way into two amazing jobs she's passionate about.
Q: What inspired you to start working in the venue/music industry? Did you have any role models or learn from someone, in particular?
A: I studied PR in college, and had previous experience at a boutique PR agency with clients ranging from tech to beauty to finance to fitness, followed by an internship with Austin Music Foundation. Out of those experiences, I was naturally drawn to the music business and really enjoyed the events that I helped plan at the PR agency. I loved being a part of something early on and seeing it come to fruition months later, so really my passion was events. I hadn’t thought of pairing it with music until I heard about the opening at Empire. The rest is history.
Q: Do you have any tidbits of advice for people with passions, in general?
A: Find a way to make money doing what you love. If that’s not happening, keep pursuing that passion in your free time. The only reason I heard about the opening at Empire was because I frequently talked to other influencers about my interest in music and events. One of my supervisors at the PR agency heard from her boyfriend, who is a local musician, that Empire was searching and instantly thought to tell me about it; ironically, I was about to start a different job, (making a lot more money than the music industry could offer), in an industry I didn’t care about at all. Although Empire wasn’t offering me as much dough, it was a no-brainer. I have my foot in the door now, and the experience I’ve gotten is invaluable.
Final advice, which I cannot take credit for but really resonates: If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t step forward, you’ll always be in the same place.
Q: What have been your favorite moments of creativity (possibly a time when a burst of creative energy produced something you could have never expected, etc.)?
A: For all of our in-house shows, I’m constantly thinking about a cool way we can make each one unique. We want people to leave feeling like they got more than just a show—we want Empire to be an experience. Once a week, each department (lighting, sound, security, bar, marketing) comes together to discuss the upcoming shows. I love bouncing ideas off of each department and hearing what their thoughts are. Oftentimes, there’s something they can do that I didn’t even know was possible. There’s been sand brought in, skate ramps, petting zoos, etc. SXSW is a super fun chance for us to think outside the box—stay tuned!
Q: What have been your most challenging moments in your career, thus far?
A: Balance. There’s been times when I’m thinking about 20 different shows and a festival, and then suddenly there’s a thunderstorm and we need to move a show to a different stage four hours before doors... There’s a lot of stuff going on that diverts me from my task at hand. Weekends are not off-limits either—it’s just the nature of our business. Unplugging and balancing work with life is an ongoing challenge for sure.
Q: What's your day job (if this business isn't your day job)?
A: The venue is definitely a full-time gig, but for good measure I also freelance at T. Cannon Media—we do publicity for Shakey Graves, Delta Spirit, Whiskey Shivers and beyond. I go into that office in the mornings and then Empire in the afternoons. I’m busy, but I’m happy to have tw0 jobs that fuel my passion.
Q: When you're discouraged, what do you run to or away from?
A: Running. Yoga. Movement, in general, is an amazing way to get my mind off something, de-stress and reset. It’s also great when I’m in a creative rut.
Your favorite band at the moment: Oh man—how could I ever choose just one? My Morning Jacket, for the all-time favorite. Lately, I’ve had Shy Girls and Too Short on heavy rotation.
Your favorite book at the moment: Honestly, I’m not a big reader, but I’d love to change that. Early this year, I read "All You Need to Know About the Music Business" by Donald Passman… It gave me a good perspective on the industry from the artist side of things. Also "Lean In" by Sheryl Sandberg.
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