Behind the Scene: Madison House’s Wes Samuel
Bradley Tucker | February 13, 2018
Wes Samuel may be responsible for some of the fastest-rising acts on the jamband and festival circuits, but the 36-year-old agent still often looks back on his days as a Florida teen, which helped carve his path forward. Throughout his wide-spanning career, Samuel has explored all sides of the concert industry, working as a high-school ticket taker and college promoter, before helping to put together large-scale events like Jam Cruise and Langerado. In 2010, the boutique agency he worked for merged with Madison House, and Samuel now helps shepherd marquee acts like TAUK, Twiddle, Midnight North and Papadosio. “The more well-rounded you are, the better you are going to be at your job,” Samuel says. “Do anything you can to create relationships and understand how things work.”
What was your first job related to music?
When I was in high school, my parents told me to get a job to pay for gas and my car, and a buddy of mine had read an article that the Coral Sky Amphitheatre was hiring. I got a job as a ticket taker—this was ‘96 or ‘97, before the days of scanning tickets, so people would come in and you would rip their ticket and drop it in a bag.
After about a year or two, they allowed me to become a concierge. Part of the time, I was still taking tickets, but then, instead of having to go back in the room and go through inquisitions for a manager counting all these tickets, they would stick me backstage where I was anything from a runner to a hospitality person to a production assistant. That was the tipping point for me—my first real taste of seeing how promoters and artists interact.
At the University of Florida in Gainesville, you were in a unique situation where your student-run club was the biggest talent buyer in that region.
One of my friends from back home, who was a year or two older than me, got me involved in Student Government Productions. We put on concerts through the program counsel using school money. Within a year, I had slowly but surely moved most of my focus away from my studies into SGP.
I held every position that was available, including president. Our budget floated around half a million dollars. The concert program divisions at most colleges and universities were strictly regulated and the concerts would take place at the student union or somewhere on campus. We would do shows at the stadium where the basketball team would play: Oysterhead, Snoop Dogg, Busta Rhymes, Stone Temple Pilots, Jane’s Addiction. I was a 20-year-old kid with half a million bucks to spend—with absolutely no intention of getting that money back.