While most 20-year-olds spent their summer watching their favorite bands from the crowd, Mike Avdey was working behind the scenes with Columbus-based alternative rock band O.A.R.
Avdey is a third-year in operations management whose parents got him interested in music at a very young age.
“My mom is an opera singer who taught me a lot about the theory and essence of music. She got me involved in piano and singing when I was really little,” Avdey said. “And my dad got me into bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nirvana and Pearl Jam, so that sparked my interest in rock and alternative.”
Avdey chose Ohio State for its location and offering of a music, media and enterprise minor. He has since become president of Music and Entertainment Industry Student Association, a club on campus in which many of the members share the MME minor.
“Compared to Cleveland, (Columbus) is a better scene in the fact that there are more young people that are involved, especially with the university,” Avdey said.
Avdey’s initial connection to O.A.R. was more familiar than academic.
“I got linked up with the band through a family friend who was good buddies with O.A.R.’s tour manager,” Avdey said. “He mentioned that I was into the music industry, so the tour manager had me come out to a show in Cleveland and I worked it all day, doing anything they needed me to do.”
A combination of his music media and enterprise minor and his operations management major aided Avdey when O.A.R.’s tour manager asked him to help with logistics of the tour.
“Mike has contributed to our team in many ways. I brought him in to assist me on the most basic level, but he quickly demonstrated that he could handle a great many tasks,” said Chris Wrightsman, O.A.R.’s tour manager, in an email. “At home, I call on him to arrange travel, return emails and generally help me with whatever I need. On the road he basically ran the production office with my other assistant and did a fantastic job.”
Avdey describes himself as detailed-oriented and organized, and he attributes those characteristics, along with his knowledge from his business classes at OSU, to his success at helping with O.A.R.’s logistics and accounting. He stayed in that position during his second year at OSU.
At the end of the school year, Avdey was asked to join O.A.R. on the road during its “Back to Rockville” summer tour. He toured with the band for two and a half weeks as the production assistant, which is the assistant to the tour manager.
“Every day we would go into a new venue and figure out who the promoter was, figure out who were going to be the (people who ran errands for the band and staff), figure out guest lists and meet and greets,” Avdey said when describing his role on the road.
During O.A.R.’s shows, Avdey got a chance to catch up on email and logistics tasks. If he had a few spare moments after that, he would watch a few minutes of the performance from backstage.
He said his favorite stop was the show at the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion in Boston.
“It’s a great city and the venue was awesome,” Avdey said. “We had awesome lobster rolls, and the band played very well.”
Avdey also spoke highly of the band members themselves.
“All the guys of O.A.R. are really cool and chill but they’re also very business-savvy,” he said, while describing his time spent with the band on bus rides or backstage before a show.
The respect is mutual.
“His work ethic is A+. Truly solid and always ready to go,” Wrightsman said. “On the road, he was up early and didn’t rest until the job was over. We have 16–18 hour days out here, so I was really proud of him.”
Avdey is still working on logistics for O.A.R., and he said he is hopeful that if the band decides to tour next summer, he will assume a more defined role than what his internship provided.
“Whether or not with O.A.R., the position of tour manager is kind of the goal,” Avdey said.