Nova Place Influencers: Morgan Nicholson

Morgan Nicholson stands in front of a quintessential Pittsburgh scene – a steel mill… okay it’s actually just a window graphic of a steel mill, but still. She works at Live Nation, a tenant here at Nova Place located in Tower One. And, more importantly, she’s our second Nova Influencer. As the Marketing Manager at Live Nation, her job varies day to day. Whether she’s blasting out releases of big shows, organizing logistics at concerts at PPG Paints Arena, the Peterson Events Center, or KeyBank Pavilion, or speaking to the press, Morgan thrives in her position.

When asked if she was always interested in the music industry, she offered up this: “Marketing is my one true love. I look at shows and concerts as products. For example, someone who’s a Pink fan is vastly different from somebody who’s going to consume a Slayer show. So there’s that variety I cater my messaging to. And I love concerts, but it’s all about the marketing.”

Morgan traced her passion for marketing back to her fascination with Heinz products (another true Yinzer scene). Not only did she appreciate the quality products, but also she took notice of the plethora of different products – Heinz Ketchup, pickles, Smart Ones, Ore-Ida French fries, etc. Each product will attract a different person, and the company markets their products accordingly. She explained how she uses her inspiration every day when marketing the variety of shows Live Nation puts on. That, coupled with her degree in Public Relations and Advertising from Central Michigan University, primed her for her position as an Influencer.

Want one more fun fact about Morgan that ties her to the ‘Burgh? She went to college with Antonio Brown of the Steelers and watched him play college ball. She’s also one of the 3,800 people he follows on Twitter… (So Antonio if you happen to read this blog that Morgan is retweeting, follow @novaplace on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram.) Shameless plug over.

Before she graduated college, Morgan started working for Live Nation as a marketing assistant in Detroit. She challenged herself off the bat with working at Live Nation’s club and theater level (smaller-scale shows) where she had to educate and build the fan base. Then she moved to working in country music festivals out of Live Nation’s Nashville office, which was a big initiative of her company at that time. She worked festivals in Detroit, Chicago, Las Vegas and Washington State. From there she landed her job in Pittsburgh and couldn’t have been happier – not only does Morgan love our city, but also she was born here and still has family here. She may have lived all over the country her whole life, but her passion for Pittsburgh was there the whole time.

For more on Morgan, and why we chose her as our Nova Place Influencer, check out our Q&A below. And keep reading to learn about our social media sweepstakes for a pair of Kid Rock tickets, courtesy of Live Nation!

Q: What does a typical day look like?

I know it’s cliché to say every day is different but that’s my reality.  One morning I’ll have to announce a show with Lady Gaga at 4AM, another I will be working the usual 10AM-6PM grind (our corporate office is in LA, great for avoiding traffic, but we are here later than normal most  nights). Other days I leave late afternoon (or work Saturdays) to get to a show to escort press and make sure everything goes smoothly from a marketing standpoint. That’s my job – it’s what I do. It’s 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and it never stops. But it’s a lot of fun.

Q: What has been your biggest company success story?

Last year was our first full year as a Live Nation business unit in Pittsburgh. After spending a few months in Alloy 26 while our office was being built, we opened a new office in Nova Tower One, hired a full staff, and have been working hard to bring the best in the music industry to Pittsburgh. One of our biggest accomplishments from last year was facilitating Farm Aid, which is a major event that sold out in 8 hours. It was a giant success in raising money for Western Pennsylvania farmers. Farm Aid hadn’t sold out in years, so for Pittsburgh to show up like that was really incredible – people came from all over. Another great thing about Farm Aid is that in between shows, the farmers get to tell their stories. To see where the money was going and hearing the stories made the whole event even more interesting and inspiring.

Another exciting project was working on Thrival Innovation + Music Festival at Carrie Furnaces. We made a historic steel mill come to life and were able to work with local artist Wiz Khalifa in a different capacity than a Live Nation tour. Thrival was interesting because we’re used to doing it at the arena or the venue we own. We weren’t used to building from scratch, but that was very Pittsburgh and Yinzer, and it was a rewarding experience.

Q: With the traveling, working long hours, and the fact that you’re the only marketing person in Pittsburgh, what keeps you going when things get tough in your business?

An old boss always used to say to me: “Remember this is someone’s dream job.” It’s a mixture of remembering that quote and knowing that in a moment’s notice my favorite band(s) Jack White, Modest Mouse, Kendrick Lamar etc.  could play the market, and I will have the pleasure of telling everyone about it.

I also have a Post-it note on my desk that says, “Stop getting stressed out because Kendrick Lamar is playing at your venue the day after your birthday, and that’s a really great thing.”

Q: What was it like working in Alloy 26 for those months before your office was built?

I am obsessed with the energy co-working provides. It honestly reminds me of being at a show. Everyone is on a mission to be successful, and it truly helps motivate us to be better.

It’s nice to have a wide variety of companies around us, so we aren’t secluded or in our own music industry world, which helps with market research. I know for a fact that my coworkers that worked in Alloy 26 with me have a better relationship because of it. We wouldn’t have been as close without working in the coworking space first.

But we did need an office eventually for our files, media buys, invoices, etc. For as great the phone booths are in Alloy 26, it’s also nice to now have an office to spread out and put my phone on speaker when I have an important call. Also if I get a bad email or something goes wrong, I get to space out and look at my view from the tower, and it’s amazing.

Q: So what do you do when you’re not in the office?

I volunteer on Saturdays at COMA. The program is called The Art Connection, grades 5-9. It’s really wonderful to see young talent exposed to art and learn about new museum exhibits.  I also play soccer on Sundays with a co-ed league. (I didn’t want to get into an intense league so we get together for exercise and camaraderie).

Q: What 3 things does anyone starting in your industry need to know?
  1. The industry is always changing and is very complex, it’s a business before it’s fun and games.
  2. It’s important to understand what aspect of the business to specialize in, marketing shows, booking bands, running a venue and making sure guests are safe, selling food and beverage to thousands of people.
  3. Surround yourself with a great team, working long tedious hours you become a family with your co-workers and often see them more than your actual family and friends, this industry isn’t a job it is a lifestyle.
Q: Where do you see the future of your industry?

For Pittsburgh and the music industry specifically, I am seeing a major uptick in content in all genres this year. For example, the Country Mega Driven by Diehl Automotive had three shows in the past and now this year there are six. We have several shows that overlap this year, like Dave Matthews Band will kick off the season at KeyBank Pavilion while Justin Timberlake plays show #1 at PPG Paints Arena. Then, Jack White will headline XEST at the pavilion while Journey/Def Leppard plays the area, and that’s just one full weekend of concerts. Mid July we will have a show of a different genre every single day!

Thanks again to Morgan Nicholson from Live Nation for being a Nova Place Influencer. If you don’t already follow Live Nation on social media, definitely check them out for updates on concert announcements.