Earlier this month, Billboard announced the five nominees for the second annual Chip Hooper Award, honoring the memory of the beloved talent agent who helped build Paradigm's music department and served as a mentor to countless young executives in the music industry.
The 2019 nominees represent a broad cross-section of the music industry, including AEG Presents' Brittanie Delava, who serves as the director of club & theater touring, managing an eight-person department that booked 40 tours and promoted 600 shows this year. Delava grew up in Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley and had vastly different careers ambitions at a very young age: "I announced that I wanted to be a waitress at my preschool graduation," she tells Billboard.
Delava caught up with Billboard in advance of the Nov. 5 awards to talk about her journey into the music business and answer five questions about her work with the bands she grew up listening to and how she was able to pivot into music aftter accomplishing her preschool career ambitions of working as a waitress prior to music.
What song most impacted you as an adolescent?
I’m not sure I could name one particular song — but my entire musical understanding was changed when I heard The Get Up Kids’ album Something to Write Home About and Saves The Day’s album Stay What You Are the summer before my sophomore year of high school. Before that, I listed to a lot of pop punk, '80s new wave, and No Doubt. Of course I still love that stuff, but those two albums introduced me to a new connection to music in such an emotional way.
Who was your first mentor in the music business and what was one thing they taught you?
Cathy Pellow at the Sargent House label was the first person to employ me full time in music. She taught me that it’s OK to forge your own path and to not be afraid of going against the “industry norm.” I’m so grateful I got an industry crash course in such a unique, DIY environment.
What is your most proud professional accomplishment in the last year?
Getting to work with Illenium from 500-cap venues in 2016 to MSG and Staples Center this year is probably the coolest thing I’ve ever been a part of. I’ve learned so much in the process and experienced ALL emotions possible along the way. I’m also super proud of how much our club and theater touring team has accomplished in the past year. We did more tours than I ever thought possible with so few people. I’m excited to continue to watch every person on our team grow.
What's one thing the music industry does really well and one thing it really needs help with?
I definitely think we need to focus more on mental health and the toll this industry takes on all of us. It’s not normal to be out every night and on call at all hours. But the one thing the industry does well is remind you why you got into it in the first place. Every time I think I’ve had enough, I see an amazing show, hear an awesome new artist, or meet an amazing new person.
When you're not turning club acts intp arena superstars, what is your life like outside of work?
Pretty much my only hobby outside of work is plants. I have over 70 at home and spend most of my days off caring for them.
The winner of the 2019 Chip Hooper award will be announced Nov. 5 in Los Angeles at the Billboard Live Music Awards. Click here to learn more and register today.