You may not know the name Clay Hutson, but you probably know his work and there’s a very good chance that you love it.
Hutson has worn many hats in his storied career in popular music, but he could be best described as a master of musical stagecraft. He’s worked as a stage manager, a producer, a sound engineer and a production manager for a few people whose names you do recognize. Those people include Prince, Guns N’ Roses, Pink, Kid Rock and Garbage.
A production what?
All of these various titles have their own specific meaning, but the best way to understand the various roles Hutson has played over the years is not to be drowned in technical jargon, but instead to ask yourself this:
Remember the last concert you enjoyed? Do you have a specific memory of the stage manager’s work? Or the Production manager? How about the sound engineers?
The answer is probably ‘no.’ If had the great pleasure of seeing Hutson’s work with the legendary Prince, chances are you didn’t leave the arena basking in the glow of the production manager’s brilliance. And that’s his job to keep the machine moving smoothly enough to place the emphasis on the artist.
But it turns out that performing tasks that won’t be noticed much is pretty hard work. A typical day for him begins hours before the start of the actual show. In fact, he is often the first to set foot in the arena.
A Hard Day’s Work
The first phase of his work involves going over the day’s schedule, executing a walk through, creating a “storage plan” and writing a list of things to do for the crew.” Hutson is driven to be as productive as possible, and demands the same of his crew.
Being productive means, among other things, paying attention to the way things are done before the show, because it will impact the way things go afterwards.
And if you’re guessing the actual performance gives Hutson a chance to catch his breath, you’re wrong. During the course of the show, he’s constructing the “actions that we need to break everything down so that I can give my staff members the directions they need to do what they need to do after the show is over.”
If Hutson’s process sounds unhealthily obsessive, there’s logic to it. His plan is to be three steps ahead of himself and what’s taking place right now. He says, “If I do this, I am prepared when the crew members arrive, and I can efficiently delegate what needs to be done.”
Where did the gifted and profoundly driven man get his start? The answer may surprise you.
Hutson’s true calling
The traveling circuit of famed TV evangelist Billy Graham would seem an unlikely starting place for a budding star in musical sound design. But that’s where Hutson found himself shorty after graduating with an impressive array of degrees (BA in Theatre Design and Technical Production from Central Michigan U, and a Master of Business Administration from Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business).
Having also dipped a toe in the world of corporate entertainment, Hutson was ready to shift directions to the place he felt he truly belonged – rock and roll. It didn’t take long for him to find a place for himself in this new environment, working as a tour manager for Getagrip Touring.
A brief list of highlights in Clay Hutson’s early career include a stint as vice-president of production for Ronin Event Creative and gigs as production manager and stage manager for such notables as Jennifer Nettles, Kanye West and Prince.
With a resume full of names and projects likely to elicit envy from any industry pro, Clay Hutson was now ready for the next step in his evolution. And this step may have been the one most fraught with danger.
While working for a company that was financially damaged by the recession, Hutson decided it was time to take what he would later describe as a “leap of Faith.” The time was right, he sensed, to have his own production management company.
Was he ready for such a giant shift in his life and career? Absolutely. He’d learned a lot over the years in the realm of tour production and live entertainment. “Within each of my employment ventures, I perfected skills that have allowed me to successfully navigate all aspects of live entertainment.” With that, a new phase of Hutson’s career was born. And Clay Hutson hasn’t looked back since.
But his career’s dazzling evolution wasn’t over yet.
Clay Hutson’s next move may be hard to predict. He’s distinguished himself in many areas of the music industry through a combination of hard work and innovative approach.
Among industry pros he’s developed a solid reputation and his work with reliable companies and products means he’s been able to endorse a number of products and services – a task he doesn’t take lightly.
“When you attach your name to a product, end result, or experience, the quality of said product must be impeccable. Otherwise, your name will be tarnished forever. Thus, I aim to always be organized, prepared, and confident in the job that I have performed.”
It’s not clear what Clay Hutson’s next move is, but whatever it is, we wouldn’t want to bet against his success. He has demonstrated his worth in the industry the old fashioned way: hard work.