An Interview with Music Producer, Clay Hutson

February 27, 2018 - By 
Clay Hutson stands next to production equipment

Clay Hutson Interview

Clay Hutson is in the music industry, but he isn’t like anyone that you have ever known in that business. He takes his artist’s thoughts and feelings into consideration. He also wants to ensure that the audience experiences something beautiful and unique in every performance, and he has been known to work from sun up until sun down to make that happen.

How did you come up with the idea for your company?

I have an incredible amount of experience with live entertainment and tour production. I spent several years in this industry before I thought about starting my own company. I have been fortunate to be able to learn something valuable from each position that I have ever held, and the skills that I have now have been perfected enough to allow me to be a part of every possible segment of live entertainment. The company that I was working for began to have difficulties during the recession, so I thought that it was time for me to go out on my own. Taking the opportunity to start my own production management company seemed like the right thing to do.

What do you do on a typical day, and how do you manage to make it productive?

My days have been spent running the floor for various events as a stage manager. Right now, I am working on Kid Rock’s shows. I get up at 6:30 a.m. so that I can get to the venue before anyone else does. I go over the schedule for the day, execute a walk-through, create a storage plan and write a list of things to do for the crew.

I want to be as productive as I can be, and I also want the crew to be just as productive. That means that I pay particular attention to the way that things are done before the show starts because that will determine how well things will go afterward. When the show is going on, I start to construct the actions that we need to break everything down so that I can give my staff members the directions that they need to do what they need to do after the show is over.

How do you make your ideas work?

I see what I want the set to look like in my mind. I also hear the sound I want, and I see the lighting. I know what is going to work and what isn’t going to work, and I use all of my past experiences to create a greater perspective. As my visions become reality, I am engaging in CAD design, and my practicality makes it possible for me to tie up all of the loose ends. Ultimately, I am the guy who is in charge of knowing the exact measurements of every door because all of the equipment has to fit into every venue.

Is there a trend that you are really excited about?

My industry is one that creates drama, so we have to give our clients an extravaganza. Therefore, the technological advances that pop up in the live music genre are really exciting to me. It’s a revolutionary industry. If you rest on your laurels for any amount of time, the industry will pass you by. The lights are humongous, and they are extremely powerful, but they don’t weigh as much as they used to weigh, so we can easily move them around.

Video is something that everyone wants to be involved with, but I think that it is time to move away from that. Even so, you have video on every tour, and the screens appear to be getting larger. Large video screens had their time, and I hope that their time is going to come to an end in the very near future. I hope that we can learn how to make the audience swoon by doing more than just projecting an image onto a screen. The artists who I think are the best have aerial stunts and acrobatics in their shows. Lady Gaga and Pink are two examples. I love seeing artists push the envelop for the sake of their artistry and self-expression.

Do you have a habit that encourages you to be productive as an entrepreneur?

I always work three steps ahead of myself and what is occurring right now. When I am traveling, I make a point of planning my entire day. This includes the most meaningless tasks all the way up to the most essential. If I do this, I am prepared when the crew members arrive, and I can efficiently delegate what needs to be done.

What would you tell your younger self?

I would tell myself to always be completely honest with myself and other people. Always keep family in front of everything. That would be a great kickoff!

Is there anything that you think everyone should believe but no one does?

Many people deal with others as if they were in human resources. They only see the value in working with someone who never ruffles any feathers even though that person isn’t the best at what he does. They reject a person who sticks his foot in his mouth sometimes but is capable of doing the job well. Those with a positive outlook on life aren’t always the most talented. Besides, I think that you can train anyone to be talented. Someone who is talented also loves what he does and has the desire to be very good at it. This person has passion for the job. I have been around many people who were extremely enthusiastic. They smiled all the time, and they were very polite, but they weren’t very good at their jobs. I would rather have an old curmudgeon who is competent in her position than a Pollyanna who has her head in the clouds.

Clay Hutson’s Background

Mr. Hutson attended Central Michigan University and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Theatre Design and Technical Production. He graduated from the University of Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business with a Master of Business Administration. He has been a production manager for Getagrip Touring since 1999. He has also been the vice-president of production for Ronin Event Creative since 2001. He was the production manager for Prince and Jennifer Nettles and was the stage manager for Kanye West.

Clay Hutson has worked for Billy Graham’s traveling circuit as well as in other forms of entertainment, but rock and roll called his name, and he answered the call. Now, he dedicates himself entirely to being a producer and designer as well as the manager of several live tours. The time that he spent in the music industry led him to work with some of music’s biggest stars, including Kid Rock, Pink, Guns N’ Roses and Garbage.

Check out Hutson’s website

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