Have you ever wondered how bands come to Western? Frustrated that your favorite bands don't play here? Let AS Productions Pop Music and the Underground Coffeehouse know!
The process of getting bands on campus is a labyrinth of negotiations and complicated business. Hunter Motto, ASP Pop Music Coordinator said the biggest hardship is to overcome is the line between the University and the industry. While the music industry has certain ideals, the University has certain policies that need to be followed. Motto said it is no small task to work this out.
Because there is a lot of turnover in the positions that book acts at colleges, managers often face a lot of confusion when they are trying to find someone to book a show with.
Motto said colleges are known for overpaying performers because many assume colleges will pay large amounts of money for their act. This creates a hard cycle to break, Motto said.
Even though ASP Pop Music may not be that large, Motto said it functions in a way that it can spread the funds out. Mainly, ASP Pop Music's budget works on the basis of revenue, Motto said.
ASP Pop Music looks for shows that are market appropriate, or appealing to the majority of the campus. They try to optimize the number of people that would come to the show in order to make ticket prices affordable. Drawing in more people results in greater ticket sales, which allow the costs to be spread out over more tickets. Motto said that other factors such as venues affect the budget range as well.
However, it is ASP Pop Music's policy to not talk about how much money is spent on individual acts, Motto said. The subject is taboo, Brittany Smith, ASP Pop Music Assistant Coordinator said.
Unfortunately, because financial feasibility is very significant in ASP Pop Music's budget, diversity in programming is not always considered, Motto said.
“It all comes down to figuring out if we can get students there and have affordable ticket prices,” Smith said.
Even though it seems like there have been a lot of hip-hop shows recently, Smith said the diversity of programming is pretty even in the grand scheme of things. It seems like there has been a bevy of hip-hop shows more recently because it's more than has been done in the past, Smith said.
“From my perspective, I just want to put on a show that is entertaining,” Smith said.
To do this, Smith and Motto research bands through YouTube and MySpace. Smith said she looks for crowd engagement and if the band will appeal to Western students.
Motto and Smith said they are very interested in what other people want to see. Smith said she receives requests for bands directly through her e-mail and the ASP Pop Music Facebook group. Smith said she also looks for trends of certain genres or styles that are being requested at Western.
“In the end, there are highly requested artists, but sometimes they just don't work out. Sometimes we just can't make it happen,” Smith said.
The process of booking a band is a lengthy one. Smith said she books bands at least three months in advance to ensure that paperwork, contracts and insurance is completed. This places constraints on when ticket sales or publicity for the show can begin. Scheduling is also important; Smith said she tries to book artists who are touring in the area.
For students who want to hear smaller, local artists, they should consider sending requests to the ASP Underground Coffeehouse. Alex Niedzialkowski, ASP UGCH Program Coordinator, said the Underground provides a more intimate environment with artists.
The Underground Coffeehouse is able to focus on local communities because it doesn't have to meet a certain quota, Niedzialkowski said. All UGCH music events are free.
Niedzialkowski said she is also able to contact artists directly, making the booking process only about a month long.
Instead of booking big names, Niedzialkowski said she likes to showcase more unique sounds that are provocative.
Niedzialkowski said she tries to find bands that wouldn't be heard on the radio and constantly tries to challenge the norms of what people listen to. However, she does have obligation to fulfill the needs of the AS community, she said.
Part of Niedzialkowski's goal is to get more diversity in her programming. Currently, she is focusing on bringing more female voices to perform.
“I'm so bored of guys singing about their broken hearts,” Niedzialkowski said.
Although she still appreciates male singer-songwriters, Niedzialkowski said she just wants to hear more of the other side. She often finds that male performers just happen to be more likely to be promoting themselves.
“It takes a certain kind of lady to be like ‘I make music,'” Niedzialkowski said.
Besides finding a diversity of performers, Niedzialkowski said she finds the concept of the UGCH great because people can have one-on-one interaction with the performers. Being able to walk up and talk directly to them about their music is a quality of experience that the smaller scale of the UGCH allows for.
Niedzialkowski said she looks for performers who are real people and play well but also make mistakes; that is the beauty of making music.
“My connections and my ears only go so far. It really helps to have tips from people on who they want to see,” Niedzialkowski said.
Students can submit tips to the UGCH on the AS Web site or on Facebook through the ASP Underground Coffeehouse group.