- 43-year-old Michael Tello is a “Vibe Manager” at the Hard Rock Hotel in New York City.
- His job responsibilities include curating playlists, welcoming celebrities, and “vibe-checking” guests.
- He also preps the “rockstar suite” for VIPs staying at the hotel like Vance Joy and Halsey.
Michael Tello, the 43-year-old “vibe manager” at the newly-opened Hard Rock Hotel in New York City, is accustomed to dealing with rockstars.
A self-described entertainment “everything bagel,” Tello has founded record labels, organized music festivals, and toured around the world as a DJ. Today, he continues to play in an electronic music band called PillowTalk.
In an interview with Insider, Tello said this industry perspective allows him to form strong relationships with the slate of celebrities who perform and stay at the hotel — a skill that doesn’t come easy to most.
One of his various duties is to fulfill the litany of unique requests that visiting performers list on their hospitality rider, a section of their contract. Tello said one he received this summer was 22 pages long — several pages of which were food allergies.
“I gotta get my runner out there like three days in advance to find this very specific yogurt or this specific type of snack that they want or a $300 scented candle,” Tello said. “A lot of these riders are for festivals or giant venues that have the staff. I’m a one-man department.”
But being able to provide those special touches is also one of the most rewarding parts of the job, he said.
When Australian singer-songwriter Vance Joy played at the hotel in May, Tello personalized the “rockstar suite” for the artist with a ukulele and curated selection of vinyl records. And in June, when Halsey played a private show at the venue and brought along her infant son, Tello’s team set up a separate room for the child and his nanny with a baby monitor and other amenities.
“It was really nice seeing her travel with her family,” he said. “We really do want to make sure that they leave being like ‘wow they went above and beyond to make sure the artist had the best experience.'”
Out of all of Tello’s celebrity encounters at the hotel, he said his all-time favorite memory was the Sports Illustrated 50th anniversary celebration this May. At the after-party, he became close with Ciara’s backup dancers, he said.
“I’m really good friends with all the artists now,” he told Insider. “There’s always someone to bond with, everyone that comes here is so nice and genuine.”
On days when the hotel doesn’t have a major concert, Tello said he starts the morning doing a “vibe check” throughout the building. This usually entails rearranging furniture, adjusting the volume of music in the lobby, bathrooms, and elevators, and checking in with guests, he said.
Being a vibe manager requires you to see “music as an experience, and how that affects people’s moods,” he said, a process he described as “almost scientific.”
“The volume has to be right, the music has to be playing on brand, the lighting and the aesthetic needs to be right,” Tello said, adding that the weather, time of day, and day of the week all influence what music he decides to play.
The vibe manager works a Tuesday through Saturday schedule. For the first two days of the week, Tello said his hours are roughly 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. On Thursday through Sunday, he said he arrives at the hotel around noon and leaves whenever the evening event comes to an end.
His main responsibility is running hotel events, or “activations,” as staff members call them. This typically includes freestyle poetry in the lobby on Monday, “Gin and Jazz” in the steakhouse on Wednesday, and DJ rooftop parties on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.
The hardest part of the job is being in multiple places at once, and having enough energy at the end of a 10-hour shift to be “on vibe” for guests and artists, Tello explained.
“The flexible hours demand a lot — I’m happy to do it, it’s what I love,” he told Insider. “Splash water on your face, put on a happy face, because no matter how you feel inside … it’s basically like being an entertainer. You put whatever you’re feeling away and make sure that the guest is having a good time and then take a deep breath afterwards.”