Jobs in the Creative Economy: Chelsea Sanderson, VP of Operations at HI-FI

Hi-Fi Indy is a local venue located in Fountain Square that hosts a packed calendar roster of local and nonlocal bands such as The Lumineers, Portugal the Man and Sturgill Simpson. Chelsea Sanderson is the VP of Operations at the Hi-Fi, meaning that she handles all of the operations in the HI-Fi and Lo-Fi studios, such as lighting the stage and emailing bands’  tour managers to coordinate the night. She is also responsible for staffing security, bartenders and sound technicians. 

A typical day for Sanderson looks like a lot of emailing and corresponding with tour managers to make sure everything related to the show is ready by showtime. Making sure she schedules staff accordingly is pertinent. A lot of times, bands will have specific things to communicate like if their crowds are rowdy or if people tend to crowd surf at a certain show, it is Sanderson’s job to make sure she staffs extra security to accommodate that crowd.  

Sanderson also said that she has wanted to work in the music industry since she was in high school. Working for a small business and watching Hi-Fi grow from Josh’s bedroom project to the 400 person venue that it is now has been amazing, she said. She likes the camaraderie between her colleagues.

“We’re a family over at Hi-Fi. We all hang out after shows, we hang out outside of work. We really put a lot of pride into our shows…,” Sanderson said smiling. “I just genuinely love working in music and the live portion of it. It’s such a unique environment being able to see one genre of a show and then the very next night it could be the complete opposite with a totally different crowd. There’s never a dull moment moment in live production.”

One thing Sanderson has had to learn while working in music promotions is patience, and how to deal with different personalities. Oftentimes, bands are traveling in 15 passenger vans for 10 hours a day and that alone can make a person grumpy or tired. So, she has had to learn how to accommodate and understand those attitudes. She’s also had to learn how to deal with different personalities from guests and always understanding the other side of that person’s experience at the show. 

Because Hi-Fi is such a small venue, they do not have a house lighting director. Sanderson said she has doubled up and has also learned tech-oriented things like lighting and signal flow. The long hours can sometimes be challenging, but Sanderson still loves it. “You dedicate quite a bit of your time to it,” she said. “But we wouldn’t do if we weren’t passionate about it.” 

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