We had the opportunity to chat to Niki Rayner about how she’s Rockin’ n Rolling as theSQUAD’s Band Guru. Great to have you on board Niki, thank you and rock on! How did you get involved in working with theSQUAD?
Squadron Leader, Kelly McGillivray, posted in the increasingly popular I Know A Guy group on Facebook. She was looking for a “shit hot junior production assistant”. I had recently quit my soul destroying job in corporate finance and as soon as I met Kelly I realised that there are people who truly love what they do. Her energy is infectious and I just had to be part of the team!
What is your job description?
I am the Entertainment Assistant. I work on the admin behind the band management side of the company. I check availability for the bands, which sounds easy but many of the musicians play in multiple bands so I have to check each musicians availability on a given date. I do a lot of research into venues around the country and I take care of the travel and accommodation arrangements if the bands are traveling far for a gig. Can you give us an idea of what a day of work at theSQUAD entails?
As I get to work I’m greeted very enthusiastically by the team. First up is getting up to scratch on all the new emails. Then updating the calendars and doing follow ups on clients who have inquired after bands but have not confirmed yet. I also send out a few inquiry emails myself to venues/markets/events to see what entertainment they have planned and suggest a few of the bands which I think would be fitting for the venue. There’s also a new popcorn machine in the office, so my day is filled with awesome movie popcorn smell.
- Patience – musicians are strange strange creatures… and while the majority are in band Whatsapp groups, some need to be contacted through sms’s or phone calls. Some use their Gmail calendars regularly and some don’t check their calendars. Some band members have day jobs or other commitments that bookings need to work around. Patience is key.
- Organised – Especially with some of our musicians playing in more than one band, you really have to be on top of your organisation game. Making sure all the schedules are regularly updated and keeping track of all the booking inquiries, follow ups, marketing strategies, etc. There’s a lot to do but if you are organised you can keep on top of it.
- Intuition – you have to get a feel for the venue/event and ensure that you suggest the right band, the right music for the venue/event. You have to keep in mind that the band and their music are a product and there is demand for it, you just need to identify the relevant target market.
I studied Marketing and Economics at Wits and graduated in 2012. After job hunting for about four months, I accepted the first job offer I got, which was in a Corporate Finance company which offered me a well below market related salary. Within two years I was able to double my salary as I did some great work for them. Unfortunately I wasn’t enjoying the work at all. It was a lot of mundane and boring data capturing and research. My passion has always been the South African music scene and the planets just aligned when I started chatting with Kelly about what theSQUAD is doing. Worst event ever?
The worst event I’ve attended was the Eminem concert in the FNB stadium, rap just does not work in such a large venue. Two hours of straining my ears to try and identify the song that was playing. Not so much fun.
Best experience at an event?
Smoking Dragon Festival 2013. I was sitting just left of the stage in the beautiful sun, surrounded by friends. I heard Black Math start to play, that was before I knew who they were, and bopped along until the jams got SO good I was forced to get up and see who was actually on stage. To my surprise it was three teenagers, two boys on guitar and bass and a girl on drums! They were slinging out their metal jams so hard that the lead singer got a nose bleed. The most metal, epic thing I’ve ever seen. Needless to say I’ve been their biggest fan ever since. You love music – tell us more…
I go through genre phases, at the moment I am enjoying the local Drum and Bass scene. Before that you would find me at all the metal/punk/rock gigs happening around at local venues. Also adore local Indie bands and DJ’s, attending a lot of the gigs. I listen to more local music than I do international music. In South Africa, House is probably the most popular genre and I have enjoyed a few House gigs too. There is good in every genre, you just have to sift through the kak to find it. For me, as long as the beats are good and I can dance to it, I love it!
Who are the best bands you’ve seen play live?
Tough question, I’ve seen so many! Internationals: Prodigy, Alt-J, Foo-Fighters
Local: Black Math (a heavy metal band from KZN), Shortstraw (they just so vibey on stage, how can you not love them), Die Antwoord (They don’t just play, they perform!) Savage Lucy is also one of my favourites! They are a three piece prog rock instrumental band, beautiful beautiful music!
Which three musicians would you like to have dinner with?
Any other passions?
I am very interested in the economics of South Africa and I hope to use my economics knowledge to help the local music scene contribute to the growth and upliftment of South Africans.
Where you see yourself in 5 years time?
In 5 years, I hope to be established in my new role in the local music scene and hopefully be at least half way to saving up to buy my own live music venue.