Every year, one of the most highly anticipated University of North Alabama events is the spring concert. This year, Florida-born singer, songwriter and producer, Blackbear, will be headlining. But how was he selected? What do UNA students think of this choice?
The spring concert is put on by the University Programming Council. The UPC is an on campus committee composed of ten members. Using the Student Activity Fee paid by each student, the UPC plans events that strive to be educational, inclusive and fun for students.
“The University Programming Council tries really hard to bring new events to our campus,” said Linden White, Vice President of the UPC.
As Vice President, White oversees the other nine council members.
“It’s a really long process,” he stated when discussing the selection of the spring concert act.
This year, the process began with the fall semester. When homecoming court ballots were presented to students, they were also asked questions about what genre they would like the next spring concert act to be. The most common results were rap, hip hop and pop.
“That’s our main job is just going back to what the students want,” White said.
After the genre is narrowed down, the UPC contacts the contractor that the University has used for booking the spring concert act for several years. They are presented with a list of available artists in the desired genre, and the careful selection process begins. Four contenders for the headlining act are chosen based on various factors.
“We put all of our names on the board, and we go through and see which one is the most well represented in their music, who has the most views, what we can get the most of for our money,” White explained.
The council members listen to and research potential acts to familiarize themselves with the performer. They budget how much they are willing to spend on the headliner, taking the other costs of the event into consideration.
“You always want to make sure you have a good stage and good lighting and good backgrounds, good security and things like that. So we always budget very well,” White said.
Most importantly, they consider how the chosen act will impact the students and the university as a whole.
“I don’t want to bring someone to campus that has a background of behavior that [shows] they won’t show up for an event, then the students have lost all that money... I don’t want to bring someone to campus that will put our students in danger or make our administration unhappy,” White said.
In three rounds, over a three week period, the choices are narrowed down from four, to three, to a final two, but all of the contenders are kept as possibilities in case the first choice falls through. However, this year, the UPC succeeded in booking their first choice, Blackbear.
“It was very close,” White said about choosing Blackbear over the other options.
The process is far from over after the act is selected. After they choose who will headline, they negotiate a contract and put in a bid. UNA outbid another college to have Blackbear on this day.
They set terms and negotiations with the artist’s management team. The UNA police department, the business office and the university’s attorney all assist in contracting. This process takes place between November and December. Their goal was to have the contract finalized by the Miss UNA pageant, and to make the announcement at Step Sing, which they succeeded in accomplishing this year.
Matthew Tyler Musto, better known by his stage name, “Blackbear” is a 29 year-old rapper, musician, songwriter and producer. He is known for his singles like “idfc,” “Do Re Mi” and his most recent hit “Hot Girl Bummer,” which peaked at #14 on the Billboard Top 100 chart.
“We wanted a big song that everyone knew,” White explained. “‘Hot Girl Bummer’ had just come out recently.”
Many students stated that “Hot Girl Bummer” is the only song by Blackbear that they know.
Overall, the reactions of students vary.
Out of 100 students that were polled, ten students said they are extremely disappointed with the choice and that they wish the UPC had chosen someone better.
One of these ten students said, “In the past UNA has gotten big names like Panic! At the Disco, who usually have iconic songs that arguably almost everyone, or at least a vast majority of people enjoy. In the past they’ve gotten bands that almost everyone has heard of. I had never heard of Blackbear, so I’m disappointed and probably will not attend.”
17 students said they are not fans of Blackbear, but are still going to try to enjoy the show. The majority, 35 percent, are neutral, stating they are neither happy nor upset with the decision.
“I’m neutral, but I’m excited overall because everyone gets excited about spring concert regardless,” one participant said.
28 are happy with the choice, and 10 went a step ahead to say they are extremely excited and that the choice exceeds their expectations. A popular response is that they are much happier with this year’s choice compared to last year.
“I like a few of the songs, so I’m not really mad about it. I think they probably could have picked someone more well known, but I also think they do well mixing up the genres,” said one student.
This will be the third year White has worked on the Spring Concert, and he is thrilled with the reactions from the student body.
“Last year, we had a little bit more negative feedback, but we’ve been really happy with the outcome this year,” White concluded, “If the students next year want a different genre they need to voice their opinion.”
The UPC will continue making preparations to make April 16 an enjoyable day for students.