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Photo by Jeff Denberg, Creative Commons

Credit: JD Photography

News of this year’s Spring Fling headliner broke amidst a flurry of Facebook posts on Saturday afternoon. But the story that took less than half an hour to circle all of campus took months to come together.

The planned release of the lineup was scheduled for Sunday night, but Kesha, who will headline the concert, beat the Social Planning and Events Committee to the announcement with a status about it on Facebook. While SPEC has typically not had issues with artists releasing performances ahead of their announcement, they have experienced leaks in the past, SPEC Concert Director Suvadip Choudhury said, citing Tiesto in 2010, whose appearance at Fling was released in a blog more than a month in advance of the announcement.

However, Penn is not the only one who has had issues with leaked announcements this year. Last week, rapper Waka Flocka Flame announced on his official tour date schedule an appearance at Brown University before the Brown Concert Agency released the information.

Kesha, an alternative and pop sensation will headline the concert taking place on April 17 at Franklin Field at 8 p.m. with Norwegian DJ Kygo opening for her. Kesha, whose first single “TiK ToK” has sold more than 14 million units worldwide and who has released several top 10 hits, has maintained a relatively low profile recently and has dropped the iconic “$” from her name. Kygo has gained some traction recently for his electronic music and will be performing at the California music festival Coachella the same weekend as Fling.

SPEC began the process of booking the artists last fall by reaching out to booking agencies to find artists that were available for their $180,000 budget.

Once hearing of Kesha’s availability, SPEC sent her agency an initial quote, and after negotiations, sent her an official bid to come perform.

Approval of the bid and the final contract can be a lengthy process, Choudhury said. “There are a lot of different parts to the contracting process,” he said. There is a “technical rider,” which deals with the specific requirements of the show including lights and equipment, and a “hospitality rider” for dealing with things like amenities and dressing rooms available for the artists, he explained. Neither “riders” are actually part of the contract, but must be considered and agreed upon by both parties in order for a contract to be solidified.

The entire process of booking the artists was kept confidential, known only to the SPEC Concert directors, and the identities of the performers have been strictly guarded since the initial stages. Directors used the code name “BB King” to refer to Kesha and “Bananas” to refer to Kygo when speaking in the presence of other people.

In a survey about student preferences last semester, Choudhury said that electronic was the most requested genre for the performers, following in a tradition of electronic Fling performers, including Grammy-winning DJ David Guetta who headlined the show last year.

But SPEC decided to depart from the genre for their headliner this year. “We had heard that a lot of people were tired of EDM,” Choudhury said, explaining that they thought Kesha and her departure from the norm would provide a very “interactive and exciting” show. “We chose Kygo to cater to all of the people who did respond to EDM, but also because his unique sound is really easy to get into for all those we heard qualitatively saying they didn’t want EDM again,” he said.

While student opinions were certainly a factor in selecting artists, SPEC also had to consider recent shows in the area, Choudhury said. “The fact that Made in America just happened in the fall certainly affected the lineup,” he said. “A lot of students go to Made in America, and they may not want to see an artist again if they have just seen them a few months ago.”

Kesha, as the headliner for the show, also had a say in who SPEC invited to open the concert. Once SPEC had Kygo in mind as an opener, they had to run it through Kesha’s management for approval. In the past, they haven’t had an issue with headliners not approving an opener SPEC had selected, Choudhury said.

But while SPEC has been planning the concert for months, Choudhury also said that many of the finer details will not be worked out until closer to the concert — even as close as the day of the performances.

“We have a general idea of what we want to happen when, but the smaller details are always kind of up in the air,” he said. “Even things as small as the weather can play a huge role in how we set up and prepare for the concert,” he said, explaining that the setup for the Fling concert in 2013, when Girl Talk headlined, was moved partially indoors because of the weather.

“So many things are out of our control, and so many other things are just barely in our control,” he added.

Even the artist herself, who broke the story, has remained distant from the actual planning of the event, Choudhury said. “Nobody has spoken to Kesha,” he said, adding that only SPEC Concert Director Billy Ford has spoken directly to her tour managers and producers. For the rest of the directors, the process involved working directly with the booking agency.

But SPEC does collaborate on the show itself, Choudhury said. “Performers will always ask for specific things on stage for their performances. We then work with a company called Visual Sound to see what we can provide them with,” he said.

Choudhury said that, akin to many of her other performances, Kesha will be on stage with two backup dancers for the concert, and has requested confetti cannons for the show.

While he was reticent to release any more details about the show, Choudhury said that students can “expect a performance.”

“We’re very humbled by the opportunity to bring these two incredible musicians to campus. Other schools have done a really great job this year,” Choudhury said, acknowledging the big names scored by other universities for their spring concerts, like Jessie J who will perform at Yale and Modest Mouse who will perform at Brown, but he emphasized that the lineup SPEC created was specifically for Penn.

“We really created this concert with Penn in mind, and we’re really proud of it,” he said.

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