Band Theory

Every spring, the major question on everybody’s mind is “”Who’s headlining Sun God?”” In recent years, there have been many complaints about the quality and popularity of the bands that have played at Sun God and UCSD.

Scott Mantell, A.S. co-festivals coordinator with Priya Mohan, emphasized the increasing difficulties in booking bands these days.

Artists are no longer willing to do one-night events such as Sun God; rather, they prefer to be booked on long tours. Many performers consider it a hassle to fly out, bring their crew and perform for one night. Their fees have also increased; a good artist used to cost anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 per performance, they now go for between $50,000 to $75,000.

Safety is also another issue taken into account when determining bands. Mantell stressed the necessity for safety as a key issue. Since RIMAC Field does not have walls, fencing has to be brought in, adding to the cost of the festival. “”The goal is to have fun, but it also needs to be a safe event,”” Mantell said.

Compounded by the fact that RIMAC Arena is a smaller venue compared to San Diego’s Cox Arena, Coors Amphitheater and the Sports Arena, bands typically do not find colleges the best place to perform. Unlike UCSD, these other venues also serve alcohol, which brings in a good percentage of the profits.

These factors place A.S. programming in an uphill battle to hire famous bands. This year’s Sun God Festival budget, the largest in Sun God history, is approximately $140,000, with $85,000 coming from A.S. The remaining portion comes from corporate sponsorship, ticket sales and miscellaneous revenues.

Not all of the $140,000 allocated to the festival goes toward the performances. Approximately $15,000 goes to daytime programming, $20,000 for the lights and stage, $5,000 for the inflatable games, and $10,000 is used to cover security, leaving about one-third of the entire budget for the nighttime bands. In terms of cash, A.S. programming has little to work with in order to get extremely famous and popular bands.

One complaint about the band-hiring process attacks the timing of Sun God Festival planning. Historically, it takes three-and-a-half months to plan the festival. The planning cannot begin too early since bands cannot plan far ahead. “”Bands don’t know what they’re doing early, most are booked within three months,”” Mantell explained, “”For example, summer tours were booked in April.””

With the budget in mind, the programming and festival committee brainstorms and plans for potentials bands. Surveys and questionnaires are given to the student body for greater input and to get a better knowledge of what students want to hear. Also taken into account are the band’s previous performances, ticket sales and references.

Potential headline performances are flagged and offers are given to the management agencies. The waiting game then begins, as programming cannot know how much can be given to the secondary performances until the lead has been chosen. Once the offer is accepted, a contract is made and the band in then part of the UCSD Sun God Festival.

For a brief description of the A.S. programming process, check the A.S. Web site at http://as.ucsd.edu/

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