This month we’re chatting to Chris Feeney, Venue Operations Manager for Forum, Melbourne. Carpenter turned Venue Operations Manager for one of Australia’s most iconic music venues is quite a story. Chris is 8 months into his role and his passion for the industry seems to be a driving force behind his success. We catch up with Chris to find out who’s on his playlist and what makes the Forum truly special.
Hey Chris, Venue Operations Manager for the Forum, one of Melbourne’s most beloved music venues, what does that involve?
Monday-Friday I work 9-5 in the Marriner Group head office working closely with our Head of programming, Sales and Marketing and ticketing team. There is a lot of work that goes in at that early stage to ensure the event is run as smoothly as possible and everyone involved has a great experience.
On “show day” I am in the venue by sound check (around 3pm), touch base with our F&B Manager to ensure the riders are set and then meet with the artist and management to welcome and help settle them into the Venue.
Our team at the Forum consists of FOH, Security, Technical, F&B and Box office. It is important to touch base with all departments and brief them on the expectations of the creative team and how we think the event will run. There is a massive variation in the audiences across the different music genres.
1 hour before doors I will meet with the tour manger and get the pass sheets for our venue brief also manage Artist/Promoter guest lists, seating requests then meet with our Head of security.
15 mins before Doors open we have our Venue brief with all staff, make sure the venue is set, stage is ready, security is ready then we start the show!
Wow that’s quite the role. We understand you haven’t always worked in the entertainment sector, what led you to the role you have now?
I’ve only been in this role for 8 months. Before this I helped run my Family’s construction business that my Dad established 30 years ago. We were hired to help with the renovations and quite simply I didn’t want to leave the place, I asked for a job and here I am. It maybe wasn’t that simple but after months of passionate conversation around the venue and the music industry I applied for the role.
What do you think makes the Forum such an institution?
From the moment people walk into the venue they are captivated by their surroundings. To be able to experience live music in a venue like this is so unique, the experience is amazing. There is actually not a “bad seat” in the house. Acoustically and visually you cannot fault the experience. The renovation was done in such a deliberate way that made sure that none of the original beauty of the building was compromised. To watch the next generation of music lovers coming through the venue is incredible. It is our goal to be known as a “destination venue”, were people are coming no matter who is playing.
What about the Melbourne music scene excites you right now?
The regeneration of live performance is driving significant growth in the music scene. Artist’s need to be out performing and touring and they seem to love it. The genuine excitement that artists seem to have around performing in venues such as ours is one thing that has really surprised me and I now understand why artists always thank their audiences, they really do appreciate the fact they get to perform in front an adoring audience!
From Max Watts, 170 Russell, The Corner, The Croxton, The Forum and Festival Hall, there is live music on every night of the week. The growth in the audience in Melbourne’s live music scene is super exciting!
What do you find are the biggest challenges working in the music industry?
Being a father of 3 it’s definitely trying to find that work life balance, I want to be at every show we have but I also want to pick my kids up from school and watch their sport.
What upcoming Forum shows are you most excited for right now?
We just had the boys from Flight Facilities play their first of 3 shows last week so looking forward to catching up with them again in 2 weeks time. Trophy Eyes as well Gang of Youth with their 8 shows are going to be pretty amazing. We have also just had Lily Allen announce…
What advice can you give others looking to make waves with a career in the music space?
It doesn’t matter where you come from or what your background is, if you want something bad enough back yourself to get it. It is hard to fake genuine passion and people will always recognise it so don’t be afraid to open your mouth and let people know how passionate you are about something. And treat the cleaners the same way you treat the CEO we are all on the same team.
And finally, tell us three artists we should be adding to our Spotify playlists right now?
Search and book upcoming gigs at Forum, Melbourne at Ticketmaster.com.au.