SUB Organizers Deal with Unexpected Challenges

Author: Grace Guibert

B.o.B at SUB Spring Concert 2013"
Catherine Bentzen

The  annual Spring Concert has brought Goo Goo Dolls, OAR, B.o.B. and The Roots to campus, while Legends has hosted the artists Cherub, Gavin DeGraw, Plain White T’s, Flogging Molly, Tim Reynolds and many more over the last few years. But how do these big-name acts end up in South Bend? The Student Union Board — in particular, the Campus Events and Concert teams — are responsible. Securing these performers, though, is a difficult undertaking.

SUB members begin the process by compiling a long list of potential performers for Campus Entertainment concerts. They access websites with databases of artists, their usual performance fees and manager contact information. At this point, conflicts may begin to arise, often in scheduling. Artists’ managers let SUB know if the artists of interest have previous bookings or personal conflicts on certain dates. 

“It’s quite remarkable how quickly the list then whittles down,” junior campus entertainment programmer Madeline Zupan says, “and often times we have to go back to the drawing board and add several more names to the list to check.” 

If the artist can accommodate the budget and abide by campus rules — for example, no artists with  criminal backgrounds are permitted to perform on campus — then responsibility of the approval process shifts to Notre Dame Legal and the Student Activities Office (SAO).  Contracts are reviewed and revised by Notre Dame Legal, and SAO gives the final stamp of formal approval. 

Hoodie Allen at SUB Spring Concert 2012

“Once the contract has been reviewed, amended and sent back to the artist’s agency for review, it usually gets edited on their end and signed,” Zupan says. “From there, we just attend to a few rider items (what the artist wants at the venue, like water, gum, food, etc.) and marketing for the event.”

Finding a balance of artists and genres adds another tricky element. SUB members have been working to find a lineup of artists that would please as much of the student body as possible.  Sophomore Conor Kinacz, who began working on concert programming for the first time this year, says, “I have to make sure I am not only encompassing my own musical interests … so the other programmers and I have been working hard to think of ways to receive feedback from a wide variety of students, which has been a major area of concern.” 

While SUB has been able to provide a variety of genres in the past, they are looking to broaden their horizons to suit the student body’s interests.

The hard work of the committee members does not always come to fruition.  For example, SUB recently coordinated for Audien, an EDM artist, to play at Legends. Months of planning and arrangements had to be scratched due to an unpredictable situation at the Chicago air traffic control that prevented his arrival on campus. The SUB representatives had four hours to replace the act that they had worked so hard to book. 

Kinasz says that, although “getting to see how the whole process works has been exciting, it has not been an easy task.”