Get to Know Kelly O'Keefe
As a "creative non-creative," Kelly O'Keefe found her niche in the music industry business.Megan Briggs | College of Arts & Media Nov 29, 2021
A desire for the culture, food, diversity, music, and spontaneity accompanying big city life compelled Kelly O’Keefe (’17) to move from Ann Arbor, Michigan to attend school at CU Denver. O’Keefe studied music business in the Music & Entertainment Industry Studies (MEIS) department where she learned the trade through hands-on projects and made valuable connections with fellow students and faculty. And while O’Keefe doesn’t make music herself (she does enjoy singing, however), she describes herself as a “creative non-creative” who found her stride and her tribe in the College of Arts & Media (CAM). Studying in CAM convinced O’Keefe that she should pursue a career in the music industry, where she would have the opportunity to be surrounded by creatives, just like she was while in school. After CAM, O’Keefe landed a job with the entertainment company Live Nation as Regional Marketing Coordinator for Live Nation - Rockies.
1. What about music business excites you? What are some of the perks of your job?
The time without concerts last year has made us appreciate being together through the experience of live music. Going to live shows I always take a second to look around the room. Seeing people enjoy themselves, especially after the last two years, and disconnect from real life for a moment is why I wanted to work in live music. My job comes with unreal perks. Obviously, the ones that come to mind first are attending our live shows. I've had unbelievable experiences seeing live music through my job. Post Malone, Sza, Troye Sivan, Green Day, Dayglow, Lizzo, Ariana Grande, Vampire Weekend, The 1975, Cher, and many, many more. Other perks include amazing health insurance, mental health care, tuition reimbursement, 401k matching and much more! Live Nation is an amazing company to work for!
2. Which classes (or instructors) proved particularly influential in your career path?
The classes that had the most impact on me were my music business classes taught by Benom Plumb, who unfortunately is no longer teaching with CU Denver. He was always so straightforward about the advantages and challenges that come with being a part of the music industry. In a couple of his classes, we would have end of semester projects as opposed to tests. I always found real life, work assignments to be more helpful than traditional testing.
3. What would you say to the person who is deciding between a traditional marketing degree (from a business school, for instance) and a path similar to the one you took in CAM?
You can always go the traditional marketing route, however, I feel like the connections you make while being active with the university and the local community are incredibly beneficial in the long run. The best thing you can do is say yes to every opportunity, especially while in school. Just know that starting out, no job is beneath you (my first job in the industry was hanging posters for the Larimer Lounge and cleaning the venue). If you work hard and people start to know your name, you'll get a reputation. Meet people and network!
4. Can you tell us about a challenge in your career/the industry you are in that you find invigorating?
Right now, the industry is one big challenge for obvious reasons. I don't know if the first word to mind is invigorating, but it has definitely been an experience throughout these past couple of years. I was brought back on staff in June 2021 after being officially laid off in October 2020. So grateful to be back!
5. How did you evolve as a person during your studies in CAM?
Through my studies and classes, especially with this program, I found the route I wanted to take within the music industry. I evolved into a more confident person that was ready to do the hard work and prove to myself that I belong here.