Why we can't have Beyonce for Spring Fling

A look at SPEC's budget

· February 27, 2014, 5:18 pm   ·  Updated March 1, 2014, 4:35 pm

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There is a reason Beyonce is unlikely to ever headline Spring Fling.

The Social Planning and Events Committee would have to spend more than 11 times its $175,000 Spring Fling grant to afford Queen Bey’s reported $2 million dollar fee.

SPEC uses its entire $175,000 Spring Fling budget to pay for the concert artists, College senior and SPEC concerts co-director Ben Yang said. Expected ticket and floor ticket revenues of $230,900 pay for all other concert costs, which vary widely depending on the genre and artist, said College and Wharton senior Ethan Jones, who is co-chair of SPEC’s Concerts committee.

At $2 million per appearance, according to the Huffington Post, Lady Gaga is also outside of SPEC’s price range. Pitbull, who charges $300,000, is also not a fiscally plausible Fling headliner. All hope is not lost for pop culture enthusiasts. At around $50,000 per appearance, Fergie lies within SPEC’s budget.

Despite financial constraints, students do have a say in who SPEC picks. SPEC releases an annual survey seeking student input for headliner and opener suggestions. This year’s survey collected over 500 responses within days. Jones said that the Concerts Committee also utilizes Facebook analytics as another data point to identify student interests in artists and bands.

The Concerts Committee, which consists of over 30 undergraduate students, begins brainstorming possible Fling performers months before the event, producing an extensive list of possible artists during the summer before Fling, Jones said. The committee contacts artists’ agents one by one about eight months in advance of the concert to discuss preliminary quotes and availabilities. Throughout the fall semester, the Concerts committee deliberates performer options and seeks input from the student body to narrow down the list, Jones said.

“The process is always in flux. Artist availability and the price range they are quoting can change in an instant ... because of factors that are largely out of our control but necessitate us being very responsive and flexible,” Jones said.

While contracts typically secure a performer, plans sometimes do not come to fruition. In 2013, a last-minute artist cancellation necessitated a last-minute booking of Girl Talk.

“Last year, an artist dropped out prior to the announcement which, while unfortunate, is a part of the concert production industry and was out of our direct control,” Jones wrote in an email.

After an artist has been chosen, SPEC submits names to the University for confirmation. Once gaining approval, the committee begins working with the artists’ agents to negotiate a contract.  They focus on the headliner first, and then move to openers.

Correction: This article was edited to note that ticket revenues play for all other concert costs, not production costs. The Fling artists pay for productions costs.

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