While Dan Apodaca, 37, has not played the drums in a while, he recognizes the instrument as a stepping stone to his future career. As a band drummer in the Silver Lake area of California for seven years, the instrument allowed him the opportunity to build consistency in the patterns of rhythm and beat, Apodaca said.
Since then, Apodaca has worked his way up from garage drums to his current position as senior talent buyer at Schubas Tavern and Lincoln Hall in Chicago. As talent buyer, Apodaca is not only responsible for scouting new musical talent, but he also helps manage all the behind-the-scenes details that lead up to various opening nights at the venues.
Venues are central to everything Apodaca loves about music, as they “bring different kinds of people of different backgrounds together into a shared space where they can connect over art that they both love,” he said.
When he first arrived in Chicago in 2012, Apodaca was 27, and attended Columbia Chicago College to pursue a career in music management. As a newcomer, Apodaca quickly built connections — particularly a special one with his music management professor, Matt Rucins, who was talent buyer for Lincoln Hall at the time.
From there, Rucins directed Apodaca to Lincoln Hall’s internship program, where Apodaca helped with small tasks and aided communication between sound technicians and bands as a hospitality intern. “I was not getting paid and working full days, and then staying longer than I even needed to just because I enjoyed it so much,” Apodaca said.
After graduation, Apodaca started working at Schubas music door, a customer service role that handles payment with the bands at the end of the night. He applied to a vacant position as general assistant in the Schubas music department, which allowed him more experience with booking bands and processing contracts. This period would prove to be his “biggest education,” Apodaca said.
In 2015, the talent buyer position became vacant and Apodaca, with his coworker Patrick Van Wagoner, proposed a pitch for the position. “Part of our pitch was, ‘Hey, we’re already here and we know how everything works,’” Apodaca said. The duo landed the job and used their prior knowledge and experience to work through “the very long days,” Apodaca said.
Wagoner recently left Links Hall in search of new endeavors, leaving Apodaca to take over the role of senior talent buyer.
Apodaca’s days now consist of crafting band offers, which requires a substantial amount of communication and negotiation in setting ticket prices and holding dates for performances. “I’m just kind of making sure nothing’s going off the rails,” he said.
Throughout his journey through the music business, Apodaca has learned an important lesson — one that he wants to share with those who see themselves pursuing a career in music: “I think more importantly was the lesson of pursuing every opportunity,” Apodaca said.