Behind the Scenes | Merch Manager

Purchasing concert merchandise is one of the best way fans can commemorate an unforgettable night at a country concert. From t-shirts, to hats, CDs and posters, merch is the must-have souvenir from a country concert. Not to mention, it’s a great way to support your favorite country artists.

In this Country Clones exclusive, we go one-on-one with Derek “Hutch” Hutchinson, Merchandise Manager for Cole Swindell. Hutch takes us through a typical day on tour and shares which concerts he still attends as a fan, and what he loves most about his job.

In additional to slinging concert merch, Hutch doubles as a concert photographer. Check out some of his amazing photos on his Hutch Photography Instagram account.

View Cole Swindell tour dates.

Q & A | Derek “Hutch” Hutchinson

Country Clones [CC] | What is a typical day on the road like for you?
Derek Hutchinson [DH] | After I get up, put my clothes on and brush my teeth, I head to the trailer and start preparing merchandise for the show – I have to count the merch and get everything together. Around noon, I have lunch and hang out until it’s time to turn the merchandise into the venue. Once I turn the products in, I usually have some time until I have to verify the numbers with the venue. Once we agree on numbers, I am basically done with my responsibilities until the meet and greet. During down time, we try and play basketball or throw the football around. I usually shower at 4 pm, eat at 5 pm, and then it’s time for meet and greet. Once the meet and greet ends, it’s show time! Depending on how sales go during each show, I will get calls to bring more merch to the booths. After each show, merchandise is counted out and we match numbers. Once everything is ready to go, I take the merchandise back to my trailer, get on the bus, head to the next city and do it all over again the next day.

CC | What do you enjoy most about your job?
DH | Working for my boss, Cole Swindell, he’s such a great dude!

CC | How did you get to be a Merch Manager?
DH | I had a buddy who helped me get into the country music business. I knew I wanted to be in the music industry, but I didn’t know where to start since I wasn’t a singer/songwriter and don’t play any instruments. So, someone asked if I wanted to learn how to do merchandise, and of course, I said “yep!” I got some experience, went to a merch company and the guys at Richards and Southern gave me a chance. I networked along the way, and eventually I got on tour with Cole Swindell.

CC | What is the hardest part of your job?
DH | Being gone so much. I love traveling, meeting new people and seeing new places, but it is tiresome. That being said, I wouldn’t trade wit for the world.

CC | How do you pass the time on the tour bus?
DH | Sleep. Lots and lots of sleep! If you know me at all, you know that’s not a lie! If I am awake, me and couple guys like to play video games like Call of Duty or NBA 2K.

CC | What’s your favorite city to play?
DH | St Louis! I grew up going to the local amphitheater, so playing there is a dream come true. Also California, I love California! Anytime we get to go out there, I love it!

CC | What’s your favorite festival to play?
DH | Faster Horses! They have a swimming pool backstage! If you know me, you know I love pools!

CC | Do you enjoy bigger shows or smaller shows?
DH | I enjoy bigger shows. I don’t really have some big crazy reason why, I just enjoy the larger shows more.

CC | Do you still go to concerts as a fan?
DH | Yep, I sure do. I like the production aspect of it. So, for most shows, I go to see the production. I also like going to see artists like Bruno Mars, Justin Bieber, or Katy Perry. They have great production. I love their shows! If it’s a country show, I’m usually going to see friends.

CC | Who is your favorite artist or band to see live?
DH | Cole Swindell! In country music, I like Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan as well. Bruno Mars and Justin Bieber are solid too.

CC | How many states have you been to?
DH | I have been to 48 States.  I just need Alaska and Hawaii, so those are on the ole bucket list.

CC | Do you have any advice for anyone who wants a career on the road in the music industry?
DH | Work hard, follow your dreams, and make as many connections as you can. You never know, how big or how small the person is in this industry is that can help you. So, make as many as you can! It’s all about who you know.

CC | Anything else?
DH | I love taking pictures at concerts. I don’t do it as much lately, but it’s one of my favorite things to do on the road. I am happy that my friends let me take pictures of them on stage. Also, this job has given me the opportunity to make great friends and meet new people along the way. You two ladies included! I feel very lucky to be in this industry and get to do what I love! Follow Hutch’s photography account on Instagram.

Thanks Hutch!!