Last year’s spring concert—newly renamed Brookfest—promised performances by Kendrick Lamar and Steve Aoki. However, both artists failed security checks by the Campus Police, who were worried about “slam dancing.” The resulting fallout from the artist change led to a vote of no confidence and near impeachment of then Undergraduate Student Government President Anna Lubitz.
This year, USG and the Student Activities Board kept a tight lip about the selection process until now, when this year’s artists were revealed as rapper Childish Gambino and EDM producer Diplo. The Statesman sat down with the SAB committee chair and treasurer, Vice President of Student Life Garry Lachhar and Vice President of Communications Mario Ferone, to talk about the process of organizing the biggest event of the year.
This year, SAB allocated $260,000 of their $585,000 budget on Brookfest. The overall USG budget of $3.1 million is funded entirely by the Student Activity Fee, which is mandatory for all students. The $260,000 and ticket sales are spent on selecting the artists and covering production cost.
Traditionally, ticket sales are not part of the budget. However, due to the high production cost of this year’s show, the SAB felt it was necessary to add ticket sales as expected income in the budget.
Doing so allowed SAB to consider securing big-name artists.
Lachhar said it is better to anticipate ticket income in the budget than to have money left over. However, if SAB does not make back what it expects on tickets, it may lose money.
For SAB, choosing the right venue is crucial for both the production cost and expanding the concert. Several locations were scouted as alternatives to Kenneth P. LaValle stadium.
According to Ferone, some of the locations SAB considered were the Campus Recreation Fields and the overflow parking lot across from Wang Center, but both locations proved to be more expensive than the Stadium for hosting the same amount of fans.
“When you factor logistics and production cost into the decision, the stadium makes the most sense,” Ferone said.
After the stadium was selected, the goal for SAB shifted to expanding the venue itself. They were able to push for 700 field tickets and open the upper section bleachers. Approximately 800 more tickets will be sold for this year’s concert, boosting the total possible attendance from last spring’s 3,500 attendees to 4,300.
The artist selection process began in November when SAB put together a list of 300 potential artists. The list was then submitted to their agent at Concert Ideas, a concert organizer agency that specializes in college concerts. Based on the artist’s availability and pricing, the list was cut in half.
SAB then filtered the remaining 150 artists based on their name recognition and headlining ability—the list was cut done to a total of 15 to 20 possible artists. The artists were then separated by genre. This year’s focuses were rock, hip-hop and EDM.
The list of potential artists included ASAP Rocky, Benny Benassi, MGMT, Three Doors Down, Childish Gambino and Diplo.
While both Lachhar and Ferone admit Childish Gambino and Diplo were not their first or second choices to perform, both artists were in the list of 15 top choices.
SAB then submitted bids for each artist through their agent at Concert Ideas. Once the artists agreed to the bid, the process moved into the contract negotiating stage.
Contracts were exchanged for both sides. Lachhar, as the chairman of SAB, sat down with the university lawyers; Anthony LaViscount, director of Student Affairs; and Tom Kirnbauer, USG administrative director, to draft a contract suitable for both parties.
According to Ferone, the university is not normally allowed to advertise the artist until the contract is executed, even though sometimes the contract is not executed until days before the concert.
This year, SAB was able to obtain a written permission from the artist’s agency that allowed advertisement before the contract is executed, thus allowing SAB to promote the artists three weeks prior to the concert.
Ticket sales will begin on April 15 at the Student Activities Center ticket booth. Each Stony Brook student can purchase either a field ticket for $20 or a bleacher ticket for $10. Off-campus concert-goers must spend $50 for a bleacher seat.
On field tickets are limited at 700 and will be served on a first come first serve basis. Free T-shirts will also be provided for all attendees.