Working towards a fairer music industry

In Conversation With : Ciara Johnson

When scrolling through the list of job titles within the music industry handbook, one that might not necessarily catch your eye at first glance is that of Senior Promoter Account Manager. Upon closer inspection though, it’s a job that’s a lot more creative and involved than it might seem.

Ciara Johnson holds that position at DICE, the mobile based tickiting and recommendations app. While the primary goal is of course to help sell as many tickets as possible, Ciara also gets to work with many forward thinking artists, festivals and promoters on the imaginative ideas that shape a huge variety of events from beginning to end.  

We caught up with Ciara to find out a bit more about her job and how the relationships she forms on a daily basis helps to improve one of the sector’s leading bits of technology.


Did you go to University and if so, what did you study?

I didn’t, I was a little indecisive so never got round to applying and went straight in to work instead.

When did you realise a career in music was something you wanted to pursue?

It happened quite organically to be honest. I’ve always loved music, my first job was in the Music and Film department of WHSmith (nice discount on CDs) and then I moved on to my local arts centre where a whole host of opportunities opened up to me. My passion for music is what took me from one place to the next.

What was your first job in the industry and how did you get it?

It’s a tricky one, I was in the North East until I was 28, ‘the Industry’ is a little different up there - more of a micro climate, so a lot of my progression was organic and from showing interest in the local scene. I went from working the box office and marketing to programming music and cinema at my local arts centre, then into working for a local not for profit that runs a music venue, studio/rehearsal and, at the time, a 15,000 cap outdoor music festival. There I looked after a bit of programming but mainly marketing and ticketing. I got great experience in starting festivals, venues and all that came with it.

It wasn’t until I moved to London that I got my first proper ‘Industry’ job, working for national promoter Kilimanjaro as an assistant. I was told about the role by someone I had worked with on the festival, she put my CV forward and I got in. Having that personal connection and referral definitely helped.

How long have you worked for DICE?

I’ve been at DICE for 1 year and 8 months, which is around 25 DICE years, ha.

Can you tell us a bit about your current role and what that entails on a day to day basis.

I’m a Senior Promoter Account Manager, so my job is to be the first point of contact for my accounts (mainly national promoters, but also a lot of Indies and smaller venues); support them, trouble shoot, and generally make sure everything is running smoothly and we’re getting their shows in front of the right audience.

The current day to day is a little out of the ordinary, as for everyone, but generally it’s working on getting new events on sale, helping the product team develop the right areas of the platform to benefit our partners, and working on business development, seeking out new opportunities and building on existing relationships.

What was the appeal of working for a company that is primarily dealing with ticketing?

I’d been a big fan of DICE since it launched, and weirdly when I was having the conversations I hadn’t really thought about it as a job in ticketing. I knew I’d still be working with promoters, venues, agents, artists in trying to help them get their event from beginning to end - I was just playing a more specific role in the life cycle of an event to what I had done previously, where I’d overseen every step.

I see DICE as something a bit different, the way it recommends events you’ll like based on previous shows and what you’re listening to... you don’t get that with other ticketing platforms. I guess I see my role as being primarily about relationships, building and sustaining, selling tickets is just part of the output.

What’s it like to work for a company that is still growing and what are some of the changes you’ve seen in the way the company operates over the last few years?

It’s been quite the rollercoaster to be honest! When I started it was already the biggest company I’d worked for - I went from an office of around 30 people, to DICE with around 60+. Since then we’ve pretty much doubled.

There’s been a fair few different milestones from major signings, Primavera, for instance, to launching in new countries (Italy, Spain, Australia) and moving from a one floor office to a three story building. Since lockdown, I have seen some of the biggest changes yet, as we’ve adapted the platform for streamed events and are working on bringing forward some major releases. It’s kept me pretty busy!

Photo credit Primavera / Sergio Albert

What are the best perks?

Well, I am very privileged in that I get to attend a lot of amazing gigs. I think one of the biggest perks is the people, I work with some absolute diamonds inside and outside the company. I’ve definitely expanded my contact base across more areas of the industry too which is cool. I have way more insight into all of the possibilities and avenues the industry can provide. Oh, and we get free breakfast.

What are some of the ways DICE is helping its partner venues during the COVID-19 crisis?

When everything first started to shut down we reached out to all of our partners to try and assess where they were financially. Once we had an idea of who needed additional support we started looking into available funding grants and the legal advice we could offer. We’ve been running regular summits, via Google Hangout, for our partners around the world. It’s been really helpful for our UK accounts to chat to those in Italy and Spain, who are a few steps ahead in terms of restrictions being lifted. Sharing of experience and advice has provided a lot of support to people.

What advice would you give someone wanting to get into the ticketing industry and music in general?

In terms of events and ticketing, I think starting in a venue really helps. Get to know the workings and ins and outs, try different roles from working on the door, behind the bar, sound desk - venues require a lot of multitaskers. The Industry in general is a little trickier as there are so many avenues but go to gigs; talk to people and never be scared to ask questions or for a referral - you’d be surprised by how many people are willing to help.