Oaktown Indie Mayhem with Sarah Sexton

On March 20th, we had the pleasure of having Sarah Sexton (also The UC Theatre’s Usher Coordinator) talk about her experience in the music industry to our interns as part of our Industry Professionals Speaker Series. She has been a local promoter and booker in the Bay Area for a number of years and is one of the founders of OIM Records, a label dedicated to spreading and strengthening the local music scene.

Sarah got her start booking Bay Area bands at Awaken Cafe in Oakland – this arrangement started with booking acts for a couple nights a month, and it was popular enough to grow to booking four acts a week. The relationships she built with both the artists and the community during these events inspired her to keep going. She booked bills for a number of other Oakland venues, leading up most recently to the Starline Social Club. She was hired as a talent buyer for AEG (who operate The Warfield The Regency Ballroom in San Francisco) and developed the foundation of OIM Records under the cover of night. She was able to officially launch the record label in 2015 and has focused on that ever since.

We spent a good deal of time talking about how to get your start booking bands. Sarah talked about situations such as when putting together a bill for a small capacity room, the order in which you book the bill greatly affects the flow of the night. At shows of this size, people come out for the bill as a whole and for the community, as opposed to just for the headliner, so care has to be placed both in which bands you invite to the night as well as the order. If you’re booking for a 100 capacity room, it can make sense to get three bands who can all bring in around 30 or 40 people to keep sustained energy all night, as opposed to focusing your efforts on bringing a bigger band who will bring a lot of people towards the end of the night. A great bill put together with forethought and attention to detail will be memorable for everyone who comes out.

I definitely enjoyed the night! Sarah had very interesting points about her experiences working way up in the music industry. Sarah talked to the importance of capitalizing on momentum, and as soon the words were said it made perfect sense. Realizing that our world moves at such an extreme pace nowadays, it’s not enough to just put in great effort now, but you need to also sustain these efforts and expand on them over time to make your vision come true. Sarah was an awesome example showing that through continued effort over time, you can create anything you want.

Max Counts
Special Events and General Management Intern