Spotlight on: The Xfinity Partnership
Xfinity Center in Mansfield is the biggest amphitheater in New England, hosting outdoor shows from May to September, including performances by Lil Wayne, Hootie and the Blowfish and Mary J. Blige, among others. Thanks to a partnership between Bay State College and Xfinity’s concert promoter Live Nation, students from Bay State’s Entertainment Management program got the opportunity to put on ten shows this past summer at the venue’s second stage.
Entertainment Management Chairperson, Jess White knows the Center well; she went to nearby Mansfield High School, and her very first job in a long and acclaimed career was working at the amphitheater as a production runner when she was 18. Since then, she’s been a tour manager for 20 years. “I toured with Ani DiFranco, Harry Connick, Jr., Maxwell, Bob Dylan, Indigo Girls,” she says. “I also rebuilt the stage and sound system at Central Park Summer Stage, as director of production for that program for several years.”
With her hands-on experience, White is a perfect fit for the Bay State’s Department of Entertainment Management, with its emphasis on producing live music as well as the business behind the music industry. “Students take classes like concert promotion, tour management, artist management, music industry marketing, and promotion,” White says.
Bay State students have often gone to work for Live Nation, which has offices around the world. “They’ve worked at both Boston area amphitheaters (Xfinity and Rockland Trust Pavilion), Fenway Park, TD Garden, the Paradise Rock Club and Brighton Music Hall” White notes. “We’ve already been working so closely together; a lot of employees from Live Nation teach for me on an adjunct basis now, so the students are getting really direct, hands-on experience.”
In addition to the 19,900-seat amphitheater, Xfinity Center also has a second stage that holds about 500 people. For ten shows over the summer, four of White’s students received internship credit for booking, contracting, advancing and running those shows, with her supervision. They also ran the VIP courtyard stage, where Xfinity VIP club members gather before shows for dinner, or during intermission. “So, they were managing two shows at once,” White says.
2019 marked the partnership’s first summer, and it’s been a great success. “At first the students were a lot more nervous and afraid of making mistakes,” White says. “Now they realize that they can think through problems quickly, and try to find the best solution, and they’re a lot more confident than they were.” It can be hard, unglamorous work, but of course, there is an upside. “We listen to rock shows all the time, how bad can that be?”
Find out more about how Bay State College’s Entertainment Management program with a concentration in Audio Production can help you towards a career in the music industry.