USG has limited money for concerts at Kent State

The MACC was packed with students for the Mike Posner and Wale concert. They both put on a spectacular light show. Photo by Jacob Byk.

Brittany Hill

Undergraduate Student Government Programming has $333,000 to work with this school year. With that you could buy 1,110 iPhones or 50,075 Chipotle burritos, but USG Programming isn’t using that money for burritos or iPhones. This money goes toward campus entertainment. Jeff Hammond, USG programming director and senior physical education major, said the money goes fast, faster than you can eat 50,075 burritos, anyway. And the process is a lot more complicated than you’d think.

“I take a lot of heat even from my friends,” Hammond said. “They’ll go ‘I don’t understand why you can’t just bring Eminem.’” Hammond, along with USG Advisor Donna Carlton explains what limits USG Programming and what students can expect this year.

Not all artists are created equal

Kayla Petey, freshman psychology major, said she thought Lady Gaga would have been a better choice for the first performer of the semester rather than Mike Posner and Wale.

Hammond said the cost for Mike Posner and Wale was roughly $75,000, where Lady Gaga would have set USG Programming back about $4 million.

Hammond said an important part of his job is timing and getting artists before they’re out of USG Programming’s price range. “Somebody can blow up in a month,” Hammond said. When Drake performed on campus in 2010, USG Programming paid $60,000 and now Hammond said he costs roughly $375,000.

Performer’s price tags aren’t the only thing that limits selection. Carlton said although it isn’t a formal rule, USG Programming does take into consideration the style of artists and the audience they will bring.

This means that artists who have had incidents at concerts in the past or have been in legal trouble may not be viable options.

“Realistically, we can’t get Lil’ Wayne,” Hammond said.

Carlton said that this is not only in the interest of student safety, but also for financial reasons.

“If we have to increase the number of security, that also increases the cost that comes out of that pot of money,” Carlton said.

This is Kent State, not Madison Square Garden

“We have a very limited venue space,” Carlton said. “A lot of times, because of our venue size and (being) a college campus, there are artists who choose to look at other venues that meet their needs more.”

What it costs:

Lady Gaga: $4 million

Ke$ha: $200,000

Nicki Manaj: $275,000*

Trace Adkins: $100,000

T.I.: $185,000*

Mariah Carey: $1 million

Ne-Yo: $175,000

Rihanna: $400,000

U2: $3 million

The Rolling Stones: $5 million

Dropkick Murphys: $50,000

Final fees for artists often include a percentage of ticket sales, which vary based on venue and sales.

*doesn’t include travel expenses and ticket sales bonuses.

For smaller shows, the Kent State Student Center Ballroom holds roughly 1,000, and for larger shows the M.A.C. Center holds about 4,200 people. Compare that to Madison Square Garden, with a capacity of roughly 20,000, which Lady Gaga sold out in less than an hour, according to her Twitter.

In addition to size constraints, Hammond said the M.A.C.C. also has limited availability, especially during wrestling and basketball season.

Just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there

Carlton said the costs associated with housing the concerts can range anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000. Some of these costs include covering the floor of the M.A.C.C., building a stage, hiring security and setting up lights and sound.

Hammond said USG Programming does its best to make tickets as cheap as possible for students, but with higher bills it has to charge more.

Carlton said all the money generated from admission goes back into the budget, so the best scenario is always to try to sell out.

“Every show is a huge production,” Carlton said. “There is so much that goes on behind the scenes of any event we put on.”

Carlton works with Ed Moisio, fire prevention and safety coordinator, to ensure all safety rules and regulations are being followed.

“There is a formula that they use for the number of people that are allowed to be on the floor,” Donna said. “There is rule for everything.”

Hammond also works with the USG Programming board, a five-member student panel. Each student has his or her own behind-the-scenes jobs, which ranges from dealing directly with performer’s managers and public relations people to turning rooms in the M.A.C.C. into performer’s dressing rooms.

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Hammond said he has received many requests for country music, and since it’s been more than seven years since they last had a country performer, he decided to look into it.

“I feel like everyone is excited about a country act,” said Hammond. “I think it’s going to be a great show.”

Conner Phillips, junior physics major, said he would like to see more rock bands like Rise Against or Shinedown.

Hammond said he has heard many students want to see more rock. “So that’s my goal for the spring,” Hammond said. “To bring a rock group.”

Hammond, who reads industry magazines like Spin and Rolling Stone, said everything he’s read lately says DJs mixing house music and dub step are the new thing. Hammond said he wants to go with the times and work on getting a well-known DJ in the spring as well.

Giving your Opinion

Hammond said USG Programming recently created a website where students can talk about what they want to see. Hammond said he is hoping students will utilize it.

Upon registering, users are prompted to answer questions such as “If you could plan a concert for Kent State, who would you bring?”

”It will be easier for us to see what people want if they’re going to go on there and type it up,” Hammond said.

“I try to please all the students,” said Hammond. “I mean, that’s not possible, but I want to please the majority.”

Hammond said when he walks through the M.A.C.C. during a concert and hears people going crazy for the artist, it puts a smile on his face.

“It makes me feel like all that work, all those hours paid off because people are happy.”

Contact Brittany Hill at [email protected].