Full disclosure: Kristie Kam holds intern positions at both The Stony Brook Press and with USG’s VP of Student Life.
Back to the Brook, a Stony Brook tradition since Fall 2013, has been one of the biggest events to kick off a new semester. This year, Fetty Wap was listed as one of the potential artists to perform. Yet, a last minute artist change disappointed many.
A lot of students are curious about how the Undergraduate Student Government selects artists to invite and perform in the Stony Brook Stadium.
After talking to the Vice President of Student Life, Fiqry Kleib, the selection process proved to be complicated. Preparations for the concert start in June, when the Student Life Department first contacts the Athletics Department for the available dates of the concert venue. Not until mid-August is the date of the concert finally confirmed.
Afterwards, the department of Student Life contacts Concert Ideas, an agency that specializes in college concerts to see which artists are available on that day. However,many available artists chosen for the concert are not well known by students. “A lot of artists we wanted did not align with the date and that put us in a tough spot,” Kleib said.
Initially, Fetty Wap was one of the potential artists personally requested. Fetty Wap did not pass the security check, Kleib said. The same thing happened to the EDM DJ, Steve Aoki two years ago when the first Back to Brook concert was held. Before proceeding to the bidding process for artists, they have to pass the security check.
The security check is a judicial process required and conducted by University Police Department (UPD). Any artist needs to have three references and no unsatisfactory history.
“We are under SUNY system, which means federal system, which is why our policies are stricter,” Kleib explained. Temple University, another public university with less restrictive policies was able to get Fetty Wap as its performer.
Another issue that arises is pricing. Initially, Fetty Wap asked $40,000 for an hour however, as it came closer to the bidding process, he requested $50,000 for half an hour. The concert’s projected budget was around $220,000 of which $150,000 was allocated for inviting artists. However, for Fetty Wap, his incomplete security check was more of anissue.
“To organize a nearly $200,000 concert within a month is tough,” Kleib said.
It would be fairly difficult to look for another artist within 24 hours if Fetty Wap did not pass the check. In the end, the SAB voted no for the bid. Fetty Wap only had one reference for his security check; and it would have been a time crunch to get the other two before the concert.
SAB wasn’t considering Walk the Moon since the band’s pricing was $75,000 for October. However, Walk the Moon had one of their dates cancelled.The Department of Student Life was notified by the agency that they would be available for the concert. The price also increased by $90,000 due to short notice and the band’s flight arrangement.
Finally, after a long discussion within the SAB, a motion was passed. Walk the Moon and Time Flies became the course of action based on the fact that the list of artists available provided by the agency might not satisfy the students. They had outstanding references and jumped at the idea of performing at our concert.
From the beginning of the year, Kleib hoped to capitalize on the concert to have a Back to the Brook weekend in which the concert would happen two days before the football game. On Friday, there will be events with other organizations facilitated by the athletics department and Walk the Moon is working in conjunction with Athletics to do something different from previous years.
“We are trying to capitalize it and make sure we have it next year,” Kleib said.