University Productions hosts A$AP Ferg and iLoveMakonnen for spring concert

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A member of African Renaissance dances on stage Thursday, April 27, 2017, at the ArtsQuest Center. This year, University Productions marketed the event later than in the past to prevent interest from waning. (Sam Henry/B&W Staff)

Strobe lights filled the ArtsQuest Center as students jumped up and down and danced in excitement to A$AP Ferg and iLoveMakonnen. The pair were the headline performers for Lehigh’s Spring Quest concert, held Thursday at ArtsQuest.

The concert was sponsored by University Productions. A music subcommittee of UP is tasked with planning several concerts per year, but that number varies depending on UP’s budget and other factors. This year, the music committee hosted the Camp Lehigh concert in September, the outdoor tailgate concert held by Goodman Stadium during the football season and the Spring Quest show. The spring show was previously located on Sayre Field, but since 2014, UP has hosted the show at ArtsQuest.

“Quest was a way to bring the concerts back inside and we wanted that,” said Sidney Ro, ’17, the music executive for UP.

Student Senate budgets out money to UP to use throughout the year, which the club then delegates to its four committees: music, comedy, excursions and special events. Ro said roughly $60,000 went toward booking the artists for the Quest show, with A$AP Ferg receiving the larger portion of that money as the headline act. The other $40,000 covered venues, transportation and security.

UP also allows students to perform in its events. Opening for A$AP Ferg and iLoveMakonnen was Lehigh’s own Minni Kim, ’16. Kim included dancers from African Renaissance and fellow rappers in his performance.

UP marketed the event differently than in past years.

“As the (University Center) is no longer as much of a central hub for students as in the past, it is easier to market the event more effectively online, in the form of Facebook pages,” Ro said.

Ro said the Facebook page and UP’s promotional video were launched later this year than in the past, but this was done on purpose.

Ro said in past years, especially last year, online marketing and posters went up too soon and students were only excited for the first week when the performing artists were publicly announced. As the weeks went by, interest began to wane, and it became difficult for UP to promote the show for an entire month.

Students within the music committee choose the artists for all events, and the artist has to be “right for the vibe” of that particular concert.

For example, The Camp Lehigh concert at the start of the year is known to have a much more casual vibe and is held outdoors. Ro said Louis the Child fit this description well, while the Spring Quest concert is more of a hyped-up event, so there is more need for a big-name artist that will excite the crowd.

Andrea Barker, the staff adviser for UP, said this year there were a few declined offers by artists for scheduling conflicts, but that happens regularly every year. Barker said eventually an artist is always found.

Once the music committee has decided what genre to pick and what artist would then be the best fit to perform at Lehigh, Barker helps write up contract bids, sends the bids out to agents, conducts negotiations for salary and formats the general Lehigh contract.

“I also make sure none of the artists are too egregious, and also make sure the university would support the messages of the performing artists,” Barker said. “But make no mistake, it is the music committee doing most of the work. I’m just there for liable guidance as the assistant director of Student Affairs.”

Isaac Wellish, ’17, the production manager for UP, said the club has grown during his four years at Lehigh.

“More and more students who are passionate about music want a say in who we, University Productions, brings to campus,” Wellish said.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misspelled the name of the UP staff adviser. Her name is Andrea Barker, not Baker. It misidentified Wellish as the music executive instead of the production manager. Ro was misquoted as saying there would be “more of a budget for bigger-name artists if there were fewer events per year.” She did not say this. The earlier version also said $100,000 was delegated to the Spring Quest show, but Wellish and Ro do not know the exact amount that went into the show. It said the UP music subcommittee is tasked with planning three concerts per year, but that number varies every year. The article stated the spring show had lower attendance in past years because students lost interest after early advertisement for the show. Wellish and Ro said this was not true. Lastly, Wellish said UP’s membership growth does not result in a bigger budget.

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