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Office space: Mike DuCharme, talent buyer at the Midland theater

A failed musician finds his fit as a tastemaker at the Midland.

Mike DuCharme in the stagehands room backstage at The Midland Theater. DuCharme does the artist booking for AEG at the historic venue.

How does one become a talent buyer?

Mike DuCharme figured he was going to eventually grow up so he studied finance and accounting at Colorado State.

“I never really fit in,” he said. “I still have to look it up on the Internet when I have to tie a tie. We have what I call my adult shirts and I don’t have to bust those out too often.”

After getting his degree, DuCharme interned for Fey Concerts in Denver. This began a series of jobs in ticket sales, talent buying, and marketing.

DuCharme moved to Kansas City after only visiting the city once before — his job interview.

Want his job? The best way to end up there, he says, is to love music.

“Before there was the Internet, I used to sleep in line to buy tickets and sleep outside the venue to be up front,” DuCharme said. “I used to save up my money from my job in high school and go blow it all on records.”

Special to Ink

The man who decides what acts play at the Midland theater downtown is a self-proclaimed failed musician.

Mike DuCharme grew up in Colorado Springs and joined a band as a 15-year-old in a town not exactly known for its music. That didn’t stop DuCharme from selling about 500 tickets a show to the Dio Disco Gang

“I was really good at selling tickets to my band,” Mike DuCharme said, “but I don’t think we were very good.”

Since he couldn’t play, DuCharme listened. Now, the gist of his job is figuring out what Kansas City wants to hear.

A man of the people

The Midland is on target to produce 130 shows this year and that number has grown each year since the venue reopened in September 2008 after a renovation. The challenge with that many shows is generating enough interest for each date.

DuCharme has a good idea of what will play well in Kansas City after three years on the job, but he still asks around as much as possible. He talks to the radio stations, people at record stores, the kids who hand out fliers on the streets and the die-hard fans.

“Street kids, kids out going to shows four or five days a week,” he said. “Kids that live it and breathe it. Kids that were like me coming up.”

What plays well in Kansas City

DuCharme has tried to broaden the type of acts that come to Kansas City. He has brought more DJs to the Midland this year than ever before; they had a global dance festival in July and DuCharme was proud of a biker rally that packed the Midland in June that featured Alice Cooper as the main act.

When in doubt, DuCharme knows rock and comedy will always draw a crowd.

“It’s definitely a rock town,” he said.

Key to success

“I think people are real picky about their shows. If you get too many shows that are alike within three or four days of each other, the better shows are going to survive and the others are gonna kind of suffer. I try to be selective and I try to space out. You look at our calendar and it’s pretty eclectic. I try to make sure we’re not doing too much of the same thing close together. I can’t always control what’s going on across the street or what Mammoth is doing, but hopefully we’re not stacking too much in the same window of the same thing.”

Playing to the venue

“A lot of stuff is a venue play and I think it’s a great room. When I first came out here, I didn’t know what Kansas City was like, but when I saw the room, I said this is a great space. And we’re fortunate we have the ability to do seated shows and we have the ability to do GA floor shows, so the room lends itself to being very versatile. A lot of shows that play here want to play the Midland, and it makes my job easier.”

The grind of the job

“It’s a lot of hours. I don’t think people realize it. People think it’s really glamorous, but most the time I’m in here from 9 to 7 and then we do the shows, I get home at 11:30, eat mac ’n’ cheese, go to bed, get up and do it again. And sometimes that’s four or five days a week.”

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