People like to complain, particularly when they have no interest in helping out or don’t even know the full story. They just sit there and complain. Take, for instance, this year’s Extravaganza concert, hosted at Harder Stadium last Saturday – an event six months in the making that was greeted with little other than student criticism.
However, organizing an event of the magnitude of Extravaganza is quite a feat. No one knows that better than A.S. Program Board Concerts Coordinator Eric Freedman, who had the responsibility of securing the music acts for the event, working with public relations firms and agents.
According to Freedman, there are several strikes against Program Board when it comes to setting up the performers for Extravaganza.
“The first thing working against us is that universities are considered a secondary market. For the most part, it’s not worth it for them [to come here]. Universities just have no legitimacy as a concert venue. We try to work like a regular venue, but we are often competing with private universities that have a lot of money and fork it out like they don’t care. Bands expect a lot of money to come to a school that we just don’t have.” Freedman said.
Though Program Board is allotted a certain amount of money every quarter because of lock-in fees, schools like UC San Diego have a lock-in fee that is four times as large. This allows such schools to make much better offers and bring larger bands to campus.
Freedman said that timing is also a key component when it comes to securing an act.
“You have to know when to call [the agents]. You call too early and they aren’t sure what the band is going to be doing then – ‘Oh, they might be going to Europe or going on tour; we’re not sure.’ Or if you call too late, they are already busy,” Freedman said.
Summer is a key time for performers to kick off a tour, and many choose to spend time in Europe due to the vast number of festivals that draw huge crowds all summer long. The Reading Festival in London draws acts like the White Stripes and the Darkness.
American tours like the Vans Warped Tour and Lollapalooza also take a chunk of artists that would otherwise be part of the Extravaganza pool.
“Rock was a big problem this year because, for some reason, a lot of them were touring and we were conflicting with the Warped Tour and Coachella. Some of the main-stage artists have clauses that say that they can’t perform in a radius of time before or after [the show or tour]. We were right after Coachella and right before the Warped Tour. So that cut out another group of artists.”
The process of choosing bands starts with a list of hundreds of performers who would fit the bill well. Next, calls are made to agents to check on the availability of the band as well as their usual rate for playing a show – Bad Religion wanted $35,000 while Detroit rockers the White Stripes requested $250,000.
The pool is whittled down to those who can play on that date, and then Program Board members decide which bands should be seriously considered. Negotiations and contracts follow, but these often fall through.
For Freedman, it is a constantly frustrating cycle, spending hours every week trying to put together the best show possible.
“People really have no clue [about] the effort it takes to bring great quality artists to the university. There are dozens of factors working against us that we need to align for every show,” Freedman said.
Regardless of your feelings toward the Extravaganza bands, consider the vast amount of work that goes into making such an event possible.
Freedman added, “The Extravaganza lineup was us settling for our 30th choice after six months of failed negotiations with preferred groups. We aim for the sky, but the nature of the system always brings us back down to a humble level.”