Running the Show
Jess White is the Chair of Bay State College’s Entertainment Management and Audio Production department. With more than 25 years of experience in the entertainment industry, she began at Bay State by teaching a venue management class in the evening, moved on to teaching event management during the day, and from there jumped to a full-time faculty position. We talked with her about the music industry, her career, and what she hopes to teach students.
Bay State College: What do you do outside of your work at Bay State College?
Jess White: I was a tour manager for 17 years and traveled around the globe with touring artists playing theatres up to stadium level concert tours. I was also the Director of Concerts and Production for New York City’s Central Park SummerStage. In my spare time, I’ve produced benefit concerts around the country and work as an independent consultant for musicians and festivals.
BSC: What accomplishments are you particularly proud of?
JW: I’m incredibly proud of helping to build SummerStage in 2000. We worked hard to rebuild the festival and redesigned the stage, site, and sound system. I’m also proud of the benefit concerts I have produced over the years. But mostly, I am proud of the students who have graduated from our program and are working successfully in this field—I’m so honored that they continue to keep me posted on their lives.
BSC: Was there a moment in your youth when you knew this would be where you landed as an adult?
JW: When I was 17 years old and graduating from high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I thought I wanted to be either an FBI agent (X-Files was popular at the time) or maybe a Sherpa. I got a job that summer as a production runner at Great Woods (now The Xfinity Center) and worked backstage in live music. That was it—everything changed from that moment.
BSC: Working in this industry, what have you learned about your strengths and your weaknesses?
JW: What surprised me the most was that I could be assertive without being aggressive and that I can be an efficient problem solver. My weakness is that I take things too personally and am a perfectionist. I forget I am human and push myself too hard.
BSC: Did you have any mentors or people who deeply influenced who you are and what you’re committed to in your work and life?
JW: There have been so many. From the musicians I have toured with who have taught me about the importance of social responsibility and the power of uniting people through music, to the incredible industry professionals who saw potential in me and taught me how to succeed in such a competitive, male dominated field, to my current students who inspire me every day to be a better teacher and a better person.
BSC: What is one thing you hope your students learn from you?
JW: Social responsibility and the power we all hold to spread good in the world while doing what we truly love.
BSC: What do you view as the greatest challenges and opportunities facing your industry today?
JW: Ticketing, pricing, the value of the artist, and the consolidation of the music industry.
BSC: What do you view as the greatest challenges and opportunities facing students—specifically those entering your industry—today?
JW: They need to understand the reality of what they are getting into and that’s what we work hard to teach them while they’re at Bay State.
Learn more about the Bay State College Entertainment Management program here.