The Viper Room is a Sunset Strip venue with a decidedly Hollywood history. Besides being partially owned by everyone’s favorite pirate, Johnny Depp, until 2004, the intimate club is also a regular hangout for many of Hollywood’s hottest stars. It will host some of LA’s finest acts at this year’s Sunset Strip Music Festival, and LA Music Blog recently talked to Sarah Berkowitz, the venue’s marketing guru, about how she got her start with the Viper Room, what fans can expect from their line-up this weekend, and who she’s looking forward to seeing at SSMF.

The Viper Room

How did you get into the world of working with music venues?

I started interning at the Viper Room and was eventually hired on.

That simple then? [LAUGHS]

That simple. [LAUGHS]

What attracted you to the world of working in live music?

I’ve always been a fan of live music and grew up going to a lot of shows. In college I decided I wanted to have an internship in music. I didn’t go to school for it, but thought it would be really fun, so I applied at a couple of places in LA. I asked if the Viper Room was looking for an intern, and they said, “Come on in for an interview.” I went in for an interview, and then they brought me on a week later.

Was the Viper Room one of your first choices?

Yeah, it was. Growing up, I was used to going to shows in really small places, basements and rec centers, so I really loved that intimate vibe. The Viper Room obviously is very small, so I was able to kind of relive the past here. [LAUGHS] The intimacy here is really nice.

What does a typical day for you consist of as the marketing person for the Viper Room?

Coordinating with bands on their promotion efforts. Promoting ourselves. Doing all the digital outreach. MySpace, Twitter, Facebook, all the usual suspects. Getting the word out there.

Viper Room
Photo by: Alen Lin

As far as the day to day, how much does that change for you when an event like the Sunset Strip Music Festival comes up?

It changes a lot. There’s a lot more that has to get done, so you have to find the time to get it done. It has to be completed in a timely fashion, and there are a lot of us working together on it, so there’s a lot of coordination from all over the Strip that has to happen. You have to keep the lines of communication open to make the event successful.

So all of the venues work together on this type of event to try to put on the most cohesive festival?

Absolutely. We coordinate a lot of the marketing efforts to make sure that the information that’s just been released gets pushed out across all of the networks for all of the venues. There is a lot of cross promotion involved in marketing the event. The more we cross promote, the more times we’re hitting the audience over and over, and the bigger the reach will be.

When you aren’t working together to put on an event like SSMF, how much communication is there between the venues on the Strip?

If a venue’s got something cool, something really exciting happening, we like to talk about it. We also joke around with each other a lot on the different sites and try to have a good time. It’s not so much competitive, but more of keeping the vibe. We’re all friendly with each other, and we try to get that across as much as possible.

We do events together. Tweet crawls involve almost all of the venues on the Strip, and it’s a chance to get our digital audience in person and show them our home on the Strip. The Roxy and the Viper have done Strip joints before, where you buy one ticket and get into both venues on certain nights. So we work together a lot.

Viper Room
Photo by: Alen Lin

As far as the bands that are booked for the Viper Room for SSMF, who are you looking forward to seeing personally?

Friday night is some of our favorite locals. We have Run Devil Run and Warner Drive, who plays the room all the time. We love them. Silent Comedy is coming up from San Diego. They’re an absolutely amazing band, and then Delta Rose is also on that Friday. They play the Strip a lot.

I’m also looking forward to Ceci Bastida, who is our Saturday act. She’s in a ska band called Tijuana No in Mexico, and she’s now branched out on her own and is doing an indie, kind of electro vibe solo project. She’s gotten great reviews from Pitchfork and is huge in the Latin community. She’s been featured on KCRW and is really a tastemaker for Latin music, so we’re really excited. We love having international artists, and I think it’s going to be really fun. She’s got a lot of buzz going on.

Is there anyone playing the main stage that you’re really excited about?

I’m really excited to see Kid Cudi. I have not seen Kid Cudi yet, so that’s gonna be cool. And Neon Trees. Really looking forward to Neon Trees. We’re really excited that Semi Precious Weapons is playing the main stage. They’ve played here countless times, and it’s exciting to see them grow to the level that they’re at and play in front of such a large audience.

For more info on the Viper Room, check out: