When big name pop stars hit the road in support of new work, their newest tours are often greeted with a tidal wave of fanfare. Living up to the hype can be a challenge, demanding that the stars work with the very best support staff to create the very best live show within their power. For Halsey that means a number of things: Strong supporting musical acts, high tech equipment and a tour manager who can tie all these elements together to create a live show that sizzles. For Halsey, that means working with tour manager Clay Hutson.
Bad at Love, Great at Pop Music
Born with the name Ashley Nicolette Frangipane, the pop singer known to admirers as Halsey is an embodiment of the contemporary world of popular music, in part because of her unconventional road to stardom.
Raised on the music of Alanis Morrisette, Nirvana, Tupac and Coldplay, Halsey first gained attention by releasing music herself on social media platforms. But her breakthrough moment as a commercial artist came when she signed with Astralwerks in 2014. Within three years, she scored her first top ten hit with the sardonic ‘Bad at Love.’
As a supporting act, she’s toured with the Kooks and Imagine Dragons, but now she’s about to embark on the final installment of Hopeless Fountain Kingdom World Tour.
Named after her most recent album, the tour will bring Halsey through much of Latin America and Asia. Along for the ride will be a host of female pop performers.
Doing it for Themselves
Joining the tour during the Australia and New Zealand dates will be Atlantic Records artists Kehlani, a young vocalist whose first taste of fame came with the teen group PopLyfe.
Lauren Jauregui from the group Fifth Harmony will join the stage when Halsey reached Latin America. In addition to touring with the single-named star, Jauregui has had the honor of performing on her latest album.
Jessie Reyez will perform on the tour at the North American shows and an Indonesian singer named Niki will join be the supporting act during the Asian wing of the tour.
For some, the tour will simply be a breathtaking display of great music. But other may read more into the lineup and choose to see it as an admirable example of female artists joined together in a highly supporting environment. Either way this is a highly ambitious tour that demands the very best support staff. And while there’s no surefire formula to make this happen, a good place to start is by hiring the right tour manager.
Clay Hutson to the Rescue
Helming a huge tour is nothing new for Clay Hutson. His reputation in the industry has been well established for years, with an impressive resume that includes work for such pop music titans as Guns N’Roses, Pink, Prince and Kelly Clarkson. But it’s possible that what prepared him best for the undertaking of an enormous world tour was his experience at helming a big successful business.
This makes perfect sense when you consider the many ways in which running a business is similar to running a crew during the chaotic process of a tour. And Hutson has had share of challenges with working through the ups and downs of a business. Those challenges go back to the earliest moments of putting his company together.
The New Company Blues
Initially, timing was not on Hutson’s side when it came to putting together his new company. The big recession had hit and the financial downturn played a role in slowing down his new company’s growth. In Hutson’s words it was “hard to set out on my own in a tough economy. However, my instincts were right, and I was fortunate. I found good clients quickly. With hard work and consistency, I made it through the hard times and became profitable in a reasonable amount of time.”
When asked if he faced any doubts, Hutson admits that “taking a big leap of faith during a recession was hard. There were times when I felt doubt. I just kept going every day.
Although Clay Hutson’s story is, for the most, a triumphant tale of success, it wasn’t all simply a matter of smooth sailing immediately after the company got up on its feel. Hutson give an inspiring account of dealing with a particularly rough patch.
“I had one costly experience that affected me both personally and financially. I was subcontracting for a production company and its client. The relationship between that company and its client deteriorated, and the client still wanted to work with me directly. Although I agreed, I received a legal notice soon after that. The production company sued me, and the legal battle set me back more than $150,000. However, I worked past the ordeal and moved forward.”
Anyone with even a vaguely familiarity with life on the road for a touring crew knows that these kinds of dramatic ups and downs are all in a day’s work for a tour manager. It’s likely that nobody knows that better than Clay Hutson.
One of the similarities between Hutson and the tour’s headliner Halsey, is their savvy use of social media. In Halsey’s case than meant building her music through the word of mouth made possible by sites like Facebook and Twitter. For Hutson the work is a little more complicated.
Let’s listen to the stage veteran describe his process:
“Referrals are the biggest part of my business. However, I also run a website. I make sure that there is reliable information about me in several places and on my site. If people have questions about me, I want to provide them with useful answers. My website outlines what I do and how I help musicians. I also connect with people in my industry on Linkedin I spent years establishing my reputation. Connecting with people is a good way to keep strengthening that public image and to keep bringing in more business.”
In some very important ways, Hutson and Halsey seem to be a well-matched pair. It’s a good bet the upcoming tour will be a huge hit.