Every Year, This Woman Helps Keep Millions of Angelenos Entertained

Meet L.A. Live’s Christy Castillo Butcher

As told to Chris Nichols by Christy Castillo Butcher on choosing shows for L.A. Live’s performance spaces. The complex is home to the Staples Center, Microsoft Theater, and the Novo by Microsoft


We have 4 million people come through our doors annually for 250 events, plus our sports teams. We have five event managers, and each one of them has a group under them. There’s a lot of coordination. There are so many advance logistics for a show—back of house, security. We store our basketball court behind the stage; it’s like a puzzle that can be taken apart. Our operations team is very creative and turned that space into a meet-and-greet area for Taylor Swift.

I opened the Honda Center in Anaheim as an event coordinator, then went to work for the NBA in New York and came back because L.A. was home. I read about this new venue and was hired as an event manager 19 years ago.

We have three venues here, so we get a little bit of everything: country acts, hip-hop, Latin, Persian artists, K-pop. We have relationships with Korean promoters and started booking the band BTS at the Microsoft Theater a few years ago, when they had mostly an Asian fan base. Recently they sold out four nights at Staples Center. They’ve crossed over, and now you see all walks of life.

I remember when Lady Gaga booked three nights at the Microsoft Theater, and they weren’t sure she could sell. I saw her go from opening for New Kids on the Block to Microsoft then to Staples Center.

For booking concerts, you see who’s working on an album, and we hear about artists who are routing tours. Promoters call and place holds, and we’re in constant contact with agents and other venues. You can’t have your finger on the pulse of everything, so when I don’t know a band I kinda crowdsource: I ask industry people, kids, other moms, college friends, “Is this a band you’d be into? That your kids would be into?” I vet them by calling other venues to see how it went. Sometimes we go after an act and pitch the venue.

Awards shows can take 15 days out of your calendar because they’re loading in and building sets and rehearsing, so you want to space them out. If you book too many, it looks like dark days to the outside world even though inside the theater everybody is working really hard.

My day starts at 8:30, answering emails at home. When there’s a concert I stay until the last song, which could be midnight. I have a long commute home, so someone can text me and let me know when the artist has left the building. Some acts do what’s called a runner, where they leave immediately after the show. There are underground tunnels leading to the garage and the hotel. Others like to decompress and entertain backstage. We have a hospitality room. Some acts like to make it like home. They bring their own furniture and drapes and throw pillows so they can come into a familiar space. We try to create a fun atmosphere for their families. We’ve rented pool tables, foosball tables. You’ll see kids riding scooters and playing hide-and-seek. If the kids aren’t with them on the tour but live in L.A., they’re gonna come see them here.


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