Give a brief 5-10 sentence introduction about yourself. (Who you are, what you do, age, fun facts about you, etc.)
My name is Olivia Sharp I am from Oklahoma. I work as a touring merchandise manager and lighting designer. I am 26 years old and I love spending time with my boyfriend, Julian, and my dogs, Missy & Daisy. We love to go hiking and exploring new areas. Our dream is to purchase a sprinter van within the next few years to convert into a home so we can travel constantly, as if touring isn’t enough for me. A fun fact about myself that most people don’t know is that I have an outie bellybutton 😜
Which female artist inspired you the most growing up?
I listen to many different female artist growing up Destiny’s Child, TLC, Blaque (anyone else remember them?) were some of my top favorites; but the one artist that I could really relate to and looked up to consistently was probably Gwen Stefani. I really admire the fact that she fronted an all-male bands, was able to dress just like one of the boys while still looking cute/sexy, and she still demanded respect for herself. Not to mention her style is a little quirky and her talent is just out of this world. Gwen Stefani, can I be you?
If you could tour with absolutely anyone, who would you pick? Why?
Taylor Swift – I hear she treats her crew like royalty and takes them on a vacation at the end of every tour. Not to mention, that’d be a HUGE resume booster.
Is there something you learned early in your career that made you a better person?
Being on the road has taught me a lot about myself. Learning how to delegate tasks has made me a harder worker. I used to try to do every little thing myself, but I quickly learned that being on tour is a team effort, and everything can’t be done by one person. Learning that my opinion isn’t always required has made me a better person. I learn a lot more about people when I try to see their point of view, as opposed to getting them to see my side.
How old were you when you first realized you wanted to pursue a career working in the music industry?
I always had a strong interest in music, but I was around 13 years old when I first read an article in AP Magazine explaining different jobs working with bands on the road and after reading the article, I told myself that’s what I wanted to do right then and there. It was a lot harder and a much longer process than I realized at the time but a lot of that process was breaking through the limits I set on myself.
How did you discover what job you were cut out for?
To be honest, I saw selling merch as the easiest way to get started in the industry, so that’s what I began doing. It wasn’t until after doing it for a year or so that I realized I thrive on the fan interaction and really enjoy the job itself. Making someone’s day, makes mine as well. I don’t know if I could ever walk away from the merch table! As far as lighting goes, I do believe my graphic design experience and working with my dad when I was younger (he is an electrician) gives me a better understanding of lighting in general, but I don’t want to say I’m cut out for that one thing. I want to learn all that I can!
How old were you when you landed your first touring gig? What was the position for? How did you get to that point?
My first tour was Warped Tour 2013, working for Fearless Records as their Merch Manager. I was 22 years old, and I had just graduated from college. A few years prior, I began working with Fearless as a volunteer on their Street Team. It was basic promotional work for new music and local shows, but it led me to intern at their offices in Huntington Beach in the summer of 2012. The following year, they offered me the position on Warped.
How long have you been working in this industry? How long do you plan to stay in it?
With my first paid (touring) position beginning in the summer of 2013, I have been on the road for almost 4 years now. I have always only wanted to tour, so I couldn’t imagine working for a record label or management company. Before starting my career, I always assumed I would begin touring and grow sick of it after a few years, but that hasn’t happened yet so who knows! Because I am in a serious relationship, I do imagine starting a family one day; but I also hear a lot about touring mothers that are able to provide for their families and kick ass on the road at the same time. Who’s to say that can’t be me?
How do you push yourself to do better?
Pushing myself is something that comes naturally to me. I always find myself trying to improve something about myself, or coming up with a new idea to help me sell more merch. I love doing yoga because I can see the physical improvements along the way, but I also love educating myself – even more so now that I am done with school. I like to listen to audiobooks or podcasts about finances, marketing or time management, or sometimes I do online classes for any topic I want to learn about. Lately, that topic has been graphic design – I think it’s time to brush up on my old abilities.
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?
I rarely deal with sexism in our industry personally, but I do see it around me very often. However, one time in particular does stand out to me… I was hanging outside after a show in Dallas, TX one night with the guys I was on tour with and a couple local stagehands. We were all having a friendly conversation when one of the local workers directed his attention to me and said “You look beautiful enough; why don’t you pour us some shots?”. I was taken back by what he said to me, but I am not a very confrontational person and everyone else was having a good time, so I poured the shots for everybody. Once I handed his shot to him, he said “Awww, I knew you were capable. Beautiful AND smart!”, so after we all take our shot, I walked back onto the bus without a word. I was definitely mad at the situation, but had intended to keep it to myself and let it roll off my shoulder. But when the rest of the guys came back on the bus, they were just as shocked as I was: “Can you guys believe what that asshole said to Olivia? WTF is his deal?!” That’s when I knew for sure that I was with a good group of people.
If you could change or eliminate any aspect of the music industry what would it be?
I would make musical artists actually get paid for the music they create!
Why do you think double standards in our scene exist?
I think it all goes back to the beginning of rock and roll. When Elvis Presley became famous, it was not only because of his talent, but also because of his sex appeal. He attracted many female fans because of his looks and dance moves, some of which would have sex with him and later be referred to as groupies. Because the norm of the 1950’s was for women to aspire to be mothers, many of them never even thought about becoming a rock and roll musician until a few decades later. By that time, groupies had been established to be female, and we all know old habits die hard. I do believe that things are getting better for women in the industry everyday and we are lucky to not have to deal without the ability to trash talk the scumbags on social media! Thanks, Mark Zuckerberg! ☺
Would you ever be open to mentoring young women who wish to make it in this scene? What’s your advice to them?
Absolutely! My advice is to stay determined. Hearing ‘no’ is inevitable, but if you never give up, one day it might turn into a ‘yes’. Don’t be afraid to work unpaid, or do volunteer positions; they usually lead to something better if you are willing to put in the hard work!
What women have mentored you? (If any).
I can’t say that any one woman has mentored me, but I learn something from all of the women I work around. I have always looked up to the ladies that help Kevin run Warped Tour. But I am also fortunate to be surrounded by great women who are extremely hard-working and professional. I learn the most from them.
In the end, do you think it’s all worth it?
YES!! Following your dreams is ALWAYS worth it! You can fail doing something you hate, so why not try doing something you love!