Clayton Hutson - Producer, Stage Manager

Who Is Clay Hutson?

Clay Hutson of Nashville, Tennessee has been interested in music since he was a young boy. He earned a bachelor’s degree in theater design from Central Michigan University and a master’s degree in business administration from the Stephen M. Ross School of Business. After he graduated, Clay held several positions with live entertainment companies. He was a project manager and worked as a sound engineer. Although he worked in corporate entertainment and traveled with Billy Graham’s sound team, he eventually chose the music industry. Clay was especially passionate about rock ’n’ roll. Since he had several jobs that exposed him to every facet of sound engineering, live performances and management, he started his own business. Clay discovered that he was a natural entrepreneur, and he was successful in his endeavor. His business grew quickly along with his reputation for impeccable and reliable work.

 

Clay traveled with several musicians in the past. He traveled to many countries in Europe with a band called Garbage. He also spent time in North America and in Australia. After that, one of his notable accomplishments was operating One Republic’s automatic rigging system during one of its biggest tours. He spent time in North America and in Asia for that tour. Today, he designs, manages and produces concerts for famous musicians such as Pink, Kelly Clarkson and Kid Rock. In his spare time, Clay enjoys spending time with his family. Also, he enjoys woodworking and crafting projects.

 

How did you get started in this business? What inspired you to start this business?

I already had plenty of experience with sound engineering for live entertainment, and I had experience with tour production. After I gained additional experience in the industry, I thought about starting a business. Fortunately, I learned valuable skills and lessons in each of my past positions. When the big recession hit, the company I worked for faced several struggles. With my acquired skills and the need to distance myself from a struggling company, I decided to leave my job and start my own business. At that point, I just knew I was ready to set out on my own. I took a leap of faith, and I landed on my feet.

 

How do you make money?

I provide sound engineering, live production and rigging services. My services include production design and management, and I provide logistics and stage management as well. I do a lot of business with clients whose friends or colleagues recommend me to them. I have mostly been focusing on stage management projects lately.

 

How long did it take for you to become profitable?

It was hard to set out on my own in a tough economy. However, my instincts were right, and I was fortunate. I found good clients quickly. With hard work and consistency, I made it through the hard times and became profitable in a reasonable amount of time.

 

When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?

Taking a big leap of faith during a recession was hard. There were times when I felt doubt. I just kept going every day. I had one costly experience that affected me both personally and financially. I was subcontracting for a production company and its client. The relationship between that company and its client deteriorated, and the client still wanted to work with me directly. Although I agreed, I received a legal notice soon after that. The production company sued me, and the legal battle set me back more than $150,000. However, I worked past the ordeal and moved forward.

 

What is one non-referral marketing strategy that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?

Referrals are the biggest part of my business. However, I also run a website. I make sure that there is reliable information about me in several places and on my site. If people have questions about me, I want to provide them with useful answers. My website outlines what I do and how I help musicians. I also connect with people in my industry on LinkedIn. I spent years establishing my reputation. Connecting with people is a good way to keep strengthening that public image and to keep bringing in more business.

 

What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?

My recent and current work involves stage management for a well-known musician. There are a lot of important tasks that I have to either do or oversee. One mistake can ruin a performance or even an entire event. There are regularly tough decisions to make, and I make a habit of thinking them through carefully and analyzing options from multiple angles first.

 

What do you think it is that makes you successful?

I think my passion for the business and my hard work make me successful. I make sure that I put forth my best effort for every project. Also, I am not afraid to work odd hours or long hours. I check whatever I do immediately. I check it again, and I check it a third time. If I check everything at least three times, I catch potential problems that I may otherwise overlook. I also align myself with people who work hard. I would rather work with someone who has an unpleasant demeanor and a solid work ethic than someone who is nice but produces mediocre or average quality.

 

What has been your most satisfying moment in business?

Every success has been satisfying for me. Recovering from my legal dilemma with the production company was satisfying. In this business, a tarnished reputation can cost you everything. I recovered from a setback, and I managed to build a strong reputation. Today, I take pride in working hard to maintain it.

 

What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?

I will continue working hard, maintaining my reputation and seeking new opportunities. The evolution of technology is exciting to me. It advances fast, and I keep up with it to find innovative solutions for my work. In my perspective, it is important to blend live entertainment with technology. For example, huge stage screens are popular for concerts today. They give everyone in the venue a better look at what is happening on stage. However, some performers also use acrobats or do stunts. I think stunts add excitement and enhance the use of a large screen. I appreciate entertainers who realize the value of variety and creativity in live entertainment.

 

What business books have inspired you?

I recommend Richard Carlson’s “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.” An associate gave me that book a few years ago, and it really improved my perspective on multiple things. It teaches people how to let go of unimportant things that they may unnecessarily obsess over and how to focus on the big picture instead.

 

What is a recent purchase you have made that’s helped with your business?

I make quite a few purchases for iPhone apps and upgrades. I use my phone to run every part of my business. Being able to do everything from one device makes life easier for me. It also saves a lot of time.

 

If you could go back in time, would you change anything?

I would have spent more time with my family. Also, I would have told myself to analyze every situation with total honesty. That can be hard to do if you know the truth and deny it. However, the outcome is always much worse when you are in denial.

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31 Responses to Clayton Hutson

  1. Craig Smith says:

    Great advice from such a living legend Clayton Hutson – I will take his advice and follow his ideas in my career and personal life. I recommend you all to do the same, he has lots of wisdom to share and learn from. Very well written article. keep up the great work, inspery

  2. manrr says:

    Clay Hutson of Nashville, Tennessee has been interested in music since he was a young boy. He earned a bachelor’s degree in theater design from Central Michigan University and a master’s degree in business administration from the Stephen M. Ross School of Business.

  3. Jenifer Lapinski says:

    This is very informative and well described. It’s easy to understand all the points being made by Clayton. I loved learning more about him and with I could have been a fly on the wall during this interview. I enjoyed it a lot and will share what I learned with all my friends.

  4. Shelly Rice says:

    Very successful guy and interesting article but it really says alot that if he could change anything he would spend more time with family

  5. sartle power says:

    I’ve been an ASM for a lot of shows this year at school, and next year I’m supposed to be the stage manager for everything and I’ve been really nervous about it.I’ve always been curious on how to turn my favorite hobby into career. P.S. your makeup is really great! This article really helped calm my nerves, thank you so much for sharinging it!

  6. Alex Smith says:

    This is an awesome interview! I love following clayton and it amuses me to see what he is up to. It is like looking inside his mind!Thanks for a well thought out and thorough interview.

  7. chris temmer says:

    What an interesting guy! I’ve always had an interest in sound engineering, but I’ve never known how to break into the field. I think I may try to follow in Clayton’s shadow and get into the industry. It seems like with hard work and dedication, you can push yourself forward here. I have worked a few live shows, but I have never been able to get steady work. Maybe this is what I needed to get back on the horse and try again.

  8. Caroline K says:

    That is incredible to have worked with such wonderful artists! And to have started out with Billy Graham, that’s actually pretty cool. Seems that is the one evangelist with no scandals. Clay Hutson seems like he’s the guy to go to for sound rigging in large stadiums. Nice work!

  9. Mona says:

    Fascinating! I would totally never know all about this area – that was really great info!

  10. king says:

    This actually makes so much sense. I hadn’t really thought about it like this, but I think you lay out your argument in a perfect way. I am going to have to give this a shot now and see if it actually works. I will let you know the progress!

  11. Dan Keem says:

    What an interesting article and individual! Since I was 3 years old I loved music and sound. Now as a hobby I produce and do a lot of sound engineering. However I never took it seriously or even had the knowledge to get into the industry. But this is an inspiration to start searching and learning!!

  12. Dan Keem says:

    What an interesting article and individual! Since I was 3 years old I loved music and sound. Now as a hobby I produce and do a lot of sound engineering. However I never took it seriously or even had the knowledge to get into the industry. But this is an inspiration to start searching and learning!!!

  13. Mary Rosenbaum says:

    Well done interview and an interesting read. It’s not easy making a leap of faith when leaving your old job behind and starting a new endeavor, so Clayton’s success is an inspiration. And, wow–some impressive clients, too! Great advice in general, and in particular for a challenging segment of the music industry. Wishing Clayton continued success and thanks for a great interview!

  14. Mary A says:

    Great interview as well as advice from Clayton. It’s great to see someone achieve success in their field, overcome setbacks and thrive. These are the sorts of things that inspire others to branch out and move boldly in the direction of their dreams. He also seems to have a very practical approach while working in the otherwise impractical world of music and production.

  15. Judy Bianco says:

    Clay Hutson seems like the kind of guy that will be successful in whatever he does. He is such an inspiration for anyone who wants to get into the music business. It’s clear that his passion for the business and his hard work has made him successful and will ensure he will continue to be successful. Great job!

  16. Bob Burmingham says:

    An interesting article and interesting person. Sound engineering and backstage work has always been of interest to me, so I’m glad this article shed some light into that field. Clay appears to be a hardworking man and I wish him the best. I have also read Richard Carlson’s book and I can agree with his point about the usefulness of that book.

  17. Bhabie says:

    Clay Hutson is a great hard working person who studied a lot. Surely, he is good with his craft to these days. And oh, he loves iPhone apps and its upgrades. Like him, I am a fan of iPhones as well. Cool that he is saving his time. This must be followed because time is one of the greatest assets of a person.

  18. Judy Workman says:

    Clay Hutson has a lot of experience in music. He was very fortunate to have his career go like it did and quickly. I think it is because he was so interested in music and stuck with it. He is so passionate and hard working. He sounds like a natural. Very successful and quite awesome!

  19. Amer Bashara says:

    This is very informative and well described. I enjoyed it a lot and will share what I learned with all my friends.
    This is like looking inside his mind! Very well written article. keep up the great work, inspector.
    Thanks for a well thought out and thorough interview.

  20. KShewokis says:

    Good article. A lot of good information in there and not just about the music buisness but life in general. Sometimes its best to trust your instincts and go with what makes you happy. And be sure along the way to think through but dont be afraid to make tough decsions.

  21. Welly James says:

    very interesting article about sucessfull man like this, but I think he should use more social media and advertise himself so he is more well known…

  22. Brandon Rister says:

    This is very informative and well described. It’s easy to understand all the points being made by Clayton. I loved learning more about him and with I could have been a fly on the wall during this interview. I enjoyed it a lot and will share what I learned with all my friends.

  23. Janice says:

    Very inspirational interview and stories from a man who is obviously very successful in the entertainment industry. Without people like him, the great shows people go to see wouldn’t be possible. Hopefully many people can take inspiration from his stories and apply themselves in their own lives as well. Thank you for this interview.

  24. Tim B says:

    This business is extremely intricate and there is a lot that you need to know in it as well. I know a guy who does this kind of thing and the amount of dedication it requires is astounding. Very inspirational to read and I enjoyed this quite a lot. I hope all goes well with the person in the interview.

  25. Maggie says:

    Clayton Hutson sounds like a very interesting and inspirational guy! Great to read about a guy who made it through sheer hard work and perseverance. Cool that he works with a lot of different genres, too. He talks about his instincts being good and being able to find clients quickly – would love to hear more about this process. Thanks again for writing and sharing!

  26. Faul Dice says:

    Great article and informative read. Clay Huston demonstrates that if one has a passion and works hard at it, then he can achieve his dream. Also, it shows that his past experience helped immensely in his current job. I just might have to give his method a try and see if it works for me.

  27. Jamie Lynn says:

    Unlike so many aspiring musicians around his age, Clayton Hutson didn’t go slouching around the starving artist way. No instead he first focused on his education, earning first a BA and then going on to earn his Masters in Business Administration. He then went out and worked, and worked very hard in positions at all different levels, and aspects of the industry before focusing on the thing that most sparked his creative spirit – Rock and Roll! By having a driven to succeed, and detail-orienteded work ethic, and having gained a great education to guide him along, Clayton Hutson built a very lucrative company that now handles talent like Pink, and Kelly Clarkson. I hope that he is an example to others who want to work in the Music industry on the best way to build the foundation, work tremendously hard toward their goals, and seeing them through like this Young man has done!

  28. Garth Phillips says:

    An interesting article and interesting person. Sound engineering and backstage work has always been of interest to me, so I’m glad this article shed some light into that field. Clay appears to be a hardworking man and I wish him the best. I have also read Richard Carlson’s book and I can agree with his point about the usefulness of that book.

  29. Camille Jones says:

    This is an very interesting article about how clay has loved music since he was a very young boy it’s very inspiring about how he came up in the music industry

  30. REL says:

    It is so hard to become successful in that type of industry. This mans story is powerful and inspiring and proves that hard work really pays off. I have an uncle that also lives in Nashville and is also in the music industry, so i can relate to this a lot!

  31. Kenny Wan says:

    Loved the info this areticle gave, as it had great insight on him and what he does, but overall, great article. and actually pretty fun to read.

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