WEB Concert Process Contains Multiple Steps

Daniel Kim

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Photo by Annabelle Marcovici

On Thursday, Feb. 27, Whitman Events Board hosted the headlining artist Sol featuring Skizzy Mars and Sam Lachow. Like many other concerts hosted at Whitman, the Sol concert had music, performing artists, light shows and a cheering crowd. Hosting big concerts at Whitman proves difficult, due to its being a small institution a few hours away from any metropolitan cities like Seattle and Portland. Who is behind the setup, and how do they do it?

WEB Music Directors and sophomores Olivia Hagel and Katrina Allick, under the supervision of senior WEB Chair Genevieve Jones, are the driving force behind not only this recent concert, but also many of the previous concerts on campus this year. Because of the complexities of dealing with the agents of more well-known artists, WEB hires a middle man to deal with the complicated bidding process.

“I would say that [Hagel and Allick] have the final say, [they] brainstorm and … based on all the limiting factors, based on what the student body wants, based on what is available to us under budget constraints, [they] end up making the final decisions,” said Jones.

Choosing artists from different genres to meet most of the students’ requests is only a small fraction of the work that is done to bring them to Whitman. The music directors have to deal with the availability of the artists and budget constraints as well.

“The [criteria] has to be if the students would like the artist who is coming, they match our budget and they are available the day we’re putting on the concert,” said Hagel. 

marco (2 of 4)

Photo by Annabelle Marcovici

The music directors select the most desired artists from the web survey that the WEB chair composes every semester for the students. From the 250 to 300 responses from the survey, which asks which artists students would like to see at Whitman, the more frequently mentioned artists are usually chosen for the upcoming musical performance. 

“We look for the general vibe of what the students want, we look at all the artists who are on the list, and we kind of get the general theme and look at the shows that already happened in the past to see who we haven’t seen in awhile,” said Hagel.

Along with the web survey, the music directors set up a new committee this year of four individuals who are passionate about volunteering with music to help arrange concerts for the school.

“Katrina and I have a committee this year. It hasn’t been something that WEB has done in the past, but it’s something we’re trying out––this new thing where we have a committee that helps us with events,” said Hagel. “Those people helped us brainstorm a lot and asked around who we should bring to campus.”

Even when the WEB music directors find a potential artist to perform at Whitman, there is more work to be done. A limiting factor that may take a potential artist off the list is the bidding and contractual process, where the payment, counteroffers and artist availability come into play.

“A big limiting factor is the bidding and contracting process, and we might put in names that may be our first choice, but they’re not available that day. Or we put in a lower bid and they go too high for what we’re willing to offer. So the contracting process is a big unseen process that we deal with, [and we work with the] Student Activities Office in terms of contracting,” said Jones.

marco (1 of 4)

Photo by Annabelle Marcovici

WEB has a middle agent who organizes a lot of the bidding process and helps out with the concerts of more well-known artists. The music directors tell the middle agent that WEB wants certain people for the concert, and these middle agents talk to the artists’ agents. For smaller artists, the music directors will email the agents themselves. Usually, they work with the Student Activities Office to make a contractual offer.

“That’s done because when we’re creating these contracts, they’re for thousands of dollars and so students aren’t allowed to sign them because it makes that student personally liable if something goes wrong. So the Student Activities Office comes in because one, not only do they know the language, but two they sign the contracts so that the college is responsible and not the individual student,” said Jones.

Understandably, there are many factors and endeavors involved in the preparation for a concert, especially for well-known artists such as Sol.

“A lot of people are opinionated about music, which is great, but I think it’s good to know that there is so much work that goes behind each and every decision: picking the day, picking the venue––whether its going to be in the ballroom, the coffeehouse or outside––picking the artists [and] going through the process of contracting,” said Jones.

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