How to host a music show 101
With Nothing Arts Center – founded by recent alums – blossoming down the road and a massively creative student body, New College is ideal for an active and exciting music culture. Mainstay events such as “Newstock” and “Woodstock Wall” coupled with regular Four Winds and Bike Shoppe shows reflect independent initiative taken by students to book a variety of musicians and host usually free concerts for the community. While it seems like a daunting task when first approached, bringing musicians to campus is fully feasible with a little planning in advance.
Second-year Olivia Van Housen recently experienced this process when setting up a show by New York-based band This Is All Now.
“They were a band who recently followed me on Twitter. There was this opportunity to have them do a house party,” Van Housen said. “I was like ‘where should they play?… Oh, I have this college where people can play at.’”
This Is All Now played last Saturday during Hamilton “Ham” Center dining hours on the steps in front of Z-Green.
“I’m very excited, mainly that it all actually came together,” Van Housen said. “It still stuns me that I pulled it off. Struggling through the process was a lot. There is nowhere at New College that says this is the process of how you do this. Definitely ask for help because you will need help.”
Here’s a general step-by-step checklist for inviting musicians to campus.
- Gauge interest
Van Housen came across This Is All Now last September, and one of her first steps was gauging interest from the student body. Van Housen sent an email to the Forum introducing the band, including links to their music, and asking if anyone would like to see them play at New College. After receiving positive feedback, she started planning. Once interest is established, contact the band, get a monetary cost, and plan a general timeframe for the event. Emails for booking agents can usually be found on a musician’s Facebook page under the “About” section.
- Submit an event request
The event request form can be found on the myNCF portal. Navigate to “Campus Offices,” “Student Affairs,” and the form is on the left. Event requests go through Campus Life Coordinator Vanessa VanDyke. “Turn in an event request before you go to the SAC [Student Allocations Committee],” Van Housen said. “What I learned from my experience was if you have even a rough day, a rough timeframe, and a rough estimate of cost, put it in [the event request form] because you could always retract it.”
- Go to the SAC
Music shows fall under the “events” category for the SAC since their bylaws don’t explicitly outline a section for concerts. Last year, the SAC allocated $18,000 for events, with $4,500 specifically going toward music shows.
“We’re also very into allocating funds for music shows just in general because a lot of students show up for these and we want to fund events with a good turnout,” second-year and SAC Chairperson Racha Masara said in an email interview.
“We generally tend to allocate money for payment for the artists, but, as for travel expenses, our bylaws do specify that we can only fund 75 percent,” Masara said.
Masara added that there have been fewer requests for concerts lately. Masara suspects this is due to Nothing Arts Center, which frequently hosts music shows, and because Bike Shoppe shows started getting shut down at the end of last year. Recently, the SAC allocated $500 for Newstock and funded a show at the Four Winds for singer-songwriter Mal Devisa.
Before submitting a request for funds, Van Housen contacted a member of the SAC. After receiving confirmation that the SAC does fund music events, Van Housen attended an SAC meeting. The meetings occur Sundays at 4:00 p.m. in the Old Mail Room. Van Housen requested $700: the cost to host a This Is All Now house show. Van Housen was funded $350 for the initial down payment. She was satisfied with the allocation. The remaining $350 came from Van Housen’s own pocket. However, she emphasized that with more planning, students could easily fundraise and prevent having to pay their own money.
“Or you can be like me and be broke,” Van Housen joked.
- Continue contacting and planning
After getting an event request approved and funding from the SAC, move forward with contacting relevant parties, such as the musicians and their booking agent and the campus’ Equipment Technical Assistants (TA). Ensure that the entire day is planned prior, including when and how the will arrive to campus, what equipment they are bringing and what will be needed. Plan when and where the event is occurring, and who is setting it up. If compensation is involved, contact Business Manager Dawn Shongood to receive information on payment. A W-9 form will be needed from the musician.
“Don’t be afraid to keep contacting people,” Van Housen said. “Start early. If you’re going to do it, start early.”