At Penn, Paul DiNapoli (C '17) had a reputation for making things happen. As SPEC Concert Director, he helped bring Chance the Rapper, Kesha, and Zedd to Penn's concerts and Spring Flings. Now, he's taken on a different role.
Hitting 21 countries in just 12 weeks, PPE major Paul DiNapoli opted out of his last semester at Penn to work as the assistant tour accountant for Depeche Mode, the hit British electronic band that recently made a comeback with their March 2017 album, Spirit.
Though Paul now works behind the scenes, in his high school days, he was the lead singer in a hard rock and metal band. Despite the early onset of his performing talent, Paul says he wasn’t meant for the spotlight. Instead, he plans to channel his enthusiasm about the music industry into the business side.
During his junior year at Penn, Paul was selected to go on the Wharton Industry Exploration Trip, a program designed to tour entertainment and arts industries in LA over spring break. Paul met his current boss, Alex Pollock (W ’07), at an alumni–student mixer. When the spot opened up with Depeche Mode, Paul was a favored contender.
Paul decided he could let academics take a temporary backseat to his career. Instead of returning to Penn to complete his remaining courses, Paul worked on independent study credits while starting to work. He completed his academic career remotely and received his degree, all while simultaneously becoming a critical part of the team leading Depeche Mode’s resurgence.
Before he even had a chance to get his bearings in LA, Paul was thrust into full–on show business chaos. Paul counts the three months on Depeche Mode’s Global Spirit Tour as some of the most thrilling times of his life. From exploring Bilbao to wandering the streets of Budapest, the few spare moments Paul had to himself marked some of his most memorable experiences.
“Everything you hear about Russia is true,” Paul said half–jokingly. “You see Putin’s face plastered everywhere. On t-shirts, mugs, in the streets.”
On tour, Paul works closely with about ten other employees, but the crew is comprised of about 40 dedicated individuals. His role as assistant tour accountant entails “a lot of Excel work, taking into account ticket sales, taxes and revenue. I have to be extremely methodical because it’s horribly tedious to go back and check everything if the numbers don’t add up.” Paul also writes press releases and ties up loose ends.
Sometimes, the constant uprooting and unconventional work environment can feel surreal. “I am by far the youngest person on the team,” Paul said. “So it’s not like I have a class of analysts my year. It can get lonely sometimes, but there’s so much traveling and excitement that I don’t think about it too much. I get to see so much of what goes into production and management, which is going to be invaluable knowledge for me to draw upon in the future.”
Despite the bleary–eyed mornings and constant jet lag, Paul stands by his decision to leave Penn early. “Opportunities don’t come along every day, so any time you see an opening, no matter how uncomfortable or inexperienced you may be, you have to just jump at it, learn as quickly as possible, and try your best to adapt.”
Depeche Mode’s new album echoes Paul’s tones of weariness, hope, and opportunity. Addressing heavy topics of civil unrest, the track “Where’s the Revolution” is a crowd favorite, but Paul recommends “Stripped.”
“It’s a lesser known track, with a darker melody,” Paul says. “But it’s pretty sublime.”