By Michael Cavanaugh
With Spring Weekend 2015 just a few months away, Campus Activities Board (CAB) has sent out its annual Spring Weekend Artist survey email blast. Students are invited to fill out the brief survey, which consists of questions regarding genre and artist preference.
In addition, the survey includes a list of potential artists encompassing a wide range of genres, and asks students to check off whether they would approve, disapprove or feel indifferent toward having the artist perform on Spring Weekend.
Notable artists listed include Timeflies, Cash Cash, Lee Brice and the Goo Goo Dolls — names that would likely elicit positive feedback from a majority of the Fordham community.
Still, many students do not understand all the steps that the CAB concert chairs have to go through to book artists like 3LAU, Jay Sean, White Panda, Cold War Kids and Grouplove to the Rose Hill campus.
“There are many people involved in the Saturday concert for spring weekend,” said Alexandra Rainone, GSB ’16, one of the co-chairs in charge of putting together artist proposals. “My co-chair Matthew Krause [GSB ‘15] and I are in charge of creating artist proposals that include every single song the artist has created, highlighted sections of the song that could be seen as controversial and biographical information about the band.
After the proposal is submitted, Shannon Driscoll, Dean Alanna Nolan and Dean Rodgers all must review and approve the packet.”
The approved proposal is then sent to an agent who communicates the university’s offer to the artists.
“As you can tell, this is a very intensive and lengthy process,” Rainone remarked, mentioning that the actual process of hiring an artist may take anywhere from 2-6 weeks. “However, it’s the best way to ensure the artists we bring to campus are not only ones the students want, but also one that reflects Fordham’s values.”
It is also possible that, after a packet is approved and the agent is in the process of contacting the artist, that artist will be booked by another school. If this occurs, Rainone and Krause have to go through again and come up with another proposal.
“Matt and I prepare packets in our free time to ensure we have one ready when an artist who is being approved gets booked by another school or event,” said Rainone.
However, many students are open about the difference in quality between the acts that are listed annually in the survey and those who ultimately perform in March.
“It just seems like Fordham is appealing to a small portion of the school, as opposed to getting an artist that is relevant in popular culture,” said Paul Mascali, GSB ’15.
Similar sentiments are echoed by Mark Attanasio, GSB ’15, who expresses negative feelings about past spring weekend performances.
“I’ve been disappointed by the spring weekend artist choices. Aside from Grouplove, they’ve been extremely mediocre,” said Attanasio. “They should allocate a higher budget to the mainline artists.”
Some students, such as Mascali, wonder whether the survey is actually taken into account when choosing an artist.
“Cold War Kids and Grouplove?” said Mascali, citing previous headline performances. “I would be shocked if more than 25 percent of the student body has even listened to either of them. I just don’t know if they even really take [the survey] that much into account. It would be interesting if they released the results of the survey as a whole to show why they picked the artist they did.”
Rainone is often stopped by students like Attanasio and Mascali with questions about the likelihood of particular artists coming to campus.
“If it was up to me, I would love to bring the highest rated artist from the concert survey to campus,” said Rainone. “However, I have to do my best to work with each artist’s price and availability and that means Fordham’s first choice isn’t always available.”
Rainone goes on to say that, in general, the artists that are listed in the survey are realistic options and are within CAB’s price range. That being said, many of the artists listed are also popular choices for other schools who have the same spring weekend dates, and, as such, these acts are booked much earlier.
Regardless of whether one of the artists listed in the survey ultimately performs on the Rose Hill campus come April, however, Rainone believes that the results of the survey are no less valuable.
“The more students who respond, the more likely Matt and I are to choose an artist who appeals to the majority of our campus,” said Rainone. “We love seeing what the students want because it makes our job easier and allows us to get a snapshot of the music tastes of our campus.”
Despite some criticism from the student body, Rainone and Krause love the work they do. Their job begins early in the summer before the academic year, during which they create packets in anticipation of the results of the fall survey, and does not end until the artists’ performances conclude.
“Overall, Matt and I love all the chaos this job entails,” Rainone remarked, “In the end, it means putting on an annual event that many Fordham students see as one of their favorite memories.”