We sat down with the lovely Amanda Schill, merch girl extraordinaire for a chat to give all you aspiring merch women a bit of insight into her journey to getting to work with Cute Is What We Aim For and Hawthorne Heights!
Give a brief 5-10 sentence introduction about yourself. (Who you are, what you do, age, fun facts about you, etc.)
Hello! My name is Amanda Schill and I am 25 years old. I’m currently on tour with Cute Is What We Aim For as their merchandise manager and I’m also working on finishing up my associates degree while I’m out here. This summer I’m starting my job as a merchandise manager for Hawthorne Heights, as well. When I’m home (Buffalo, NY currently), I work at the two main music venues there and hang out with my dog a lot.
Which female artist inspired you the most growing up?
You know, I really wanted to be like Avril Lavigne back in the day until I came to terms with the fact that I can’t sing. She was the first female artist that I took a real interest in. Since I’ve been actively involved with music, I’ve been pretty inspired by artists like Paramore, and more recently ladies like Sia, as well as a band from Brooklyn called Wet, and a singer from London called Dua Lipa.
If you could tour with absolutely anyone, who would you pick? Why?
I have this really naïve goal of kind of wanting to tour with all my favorite bands that I grew up listening to that are still actively touring. I just love the whole idea of my career kind of coming full circle in that sense, y’know? Like, this summer is going to be really cool because I grew up listening to Hawthorne Heights so it’s a cool full circle to be hitting the road with them. I’d also love to get into the arena circuit with a band like The 1975 or Justin Bieber or something someday. I just think those would be such cool experiences.
Is there something you learned early in your career that made you a better person?
Absolutely – very early on I learned two things: 1) the music industry is huge but it is also SO small, and 2) that it’s important to shut up and listen rather than talk/ let your work ethic speak for itself. Everybody knows everybody, everybody has unique stories to share, and word travels fast. Those two lessons really kind of molded how I carry myself.
How old were you when you first realized you wanted to pursue a career working in the music industry?
My parents took me to my first concert when I was 13, I think, and my interest in that whole world really just sprouted from there. When I was 16 I discovered this band called Honor Bright, and I just really loved them so I started a street team for them to spread the word and that band kind of gave me the foundation to start learning about how things worked with touring and such, and I think that was probably when it clicked in my head that I could maybe make a living that way.
When did you discover what job you were cut out for?
Before I ever got into touring, I spent a lot of years volunteering at music festivals like Warped Tour or just soaking in every opportunity I could find to get involved with shows in one way or another. Throughout that process I discovered how much fun I have selling merch and kind of just dove into that since then. I don’t think I want to sell merch forever, I’d definitely like to get into tour managing someday but I have to work towards that.
How old were you when you landed your first touring gig? What was the position for? How did you get to that point?
I was 21 and I went on the road with a local band from Cleveland called Envoi. It was never anything super extensive, just 4-5 days here and there, but those runs helped me fine-tune what works as far as organization/display/etc for merch. I got to that point because I met David and Joe, the guitarist and drummer, through some mutual friends and we really hit it off. Eventually they started booking those little runs, I asked if I could tag along, they said yes, and the rest is history!
How long have you been working in this industry for? How long do you plan to stay in it?
I’ve been involved since I was 16 or 17, and I think I want to stick around for a while, even if I’m not touring at the end of the day. I’m really lucky because when I’m home I still get to work in places surrounded by music. I guess I’m going to be here ‘til I get tired of it! Hahah.
How do you push yourself to do better?
Just gotta hustle. I’m pretty much always daydreaming about new and innovative ways to accomplish my daily goals when I’m on the road, and I ultimately want to make every day better than the one prior; every tour better than the last one. I go into everything I want to do with an attitude that’s positive and driven regardless of what might be going on in my head/behind closed doors (ask anyone who’s ever toured with me, I’m that one person on a tour who’s annoyingly positive pretty much always). Everything I do is a step in the direction of trying to do better purely because I love what I do and want to do well at it.
Tell us about a time when being a woman in your field has been difficult for you? What effects of sexism have you dealt with and how did you learn to handle it?
You know, I’ve been pretty fortunate in the sense that I truthfully can’t really pinpoint one specific big incident where I felt like I was disrespected or treated differently by my peers because I’m a girl. Yeah, I’ve had to hear the “we don’t take girls on tour” line more times than I can count and still get asked which member of the band I’m dating, or venue staffs assuming I can’t lift my gear on my own, but for the most part I’ve been surrounded by a lot of positive, uplifting people in this industry. You kind of learn to cope with people saying those things by letting it roll off your shoulder & working that much harder to prove them wrong/change their minds, y’know?
If you could change or eliminate any aspect of the music industry what would it be?
I’d love to eliminate the notion of the “no girls on tour” rules, but I’m also not opposed to working my butt off to make that happen. 🙂
Why do you think double standards in our scene exist?
I mean, I feel like they’re based on the same stigmas that surround any industry that has women trying to get into a male-dominated industry. However, I think we’re finally in a time where those stigmas are being challenged/called out so we’re turning to go in the right direction now.
Would you ever be open to mentoring young women who wish to make it in this scene? What’s your advice to them?
Absolutely! I love talking with people, men and women alike, about what they’re trying to accomplish and throwing in some motivating words when I can. My biggest piece of advice, and I say this same thing anybody asks me, is to make your own opportunities if you have to and don’t stop until you get to where you want to be. Hard work pays off.
What women have mentored you? (If any).
There are two women in particular who taught me a lot of what I know and mentored me through things until I had a grasp on it all myself – my friend Victoria Morse who did Warped Tour for a bunch of years with some various organizations taught me damn near everything I needed to know to survive Warped Tour. In fact, she was the one who passed on an opportunity once who got me onto the tour for the first time in 2013. My other friend Brittny Jackson gave me a platform to be creative back in the day and mentored me through a lot and kind of saw me grow. I’m so endlessly thankful for those two ladies and always will be.
In the end, do you think it’s all worth it?
Absolutely. I wouldn’t be doing it if it wasn’t.