Concert cash: FGCU spends student $$$ for Pitbull other artists

Posted on December 2, 2011


By Andrew Friedgen

Last year, Florida Gulf Coast University students rocked out for a couple hours at Nest Fest — and it cost students $150,000. Not all of the money was spent booking the artists, and the reception from students is mostly positive, says Melissa Khayata, the concert director for the programming board.

“Students are generally very excited for each concert because of the tradition that has been built up for Nest Fest and Eaglepalooza,” Khayata said.

The FGCU Programming Board puts on at least two concerts a year. Eaglepalooza happens in the fall and is hip-hop based, and Nest Fest happens in the spring with focus on rock music. The concerts are funded through Activity and Service fees, which are pulled from student tuition.

This fall’s Eaglepalooza, which was held on Nov. 17 at Germain Arena, featured Pitbull, Travis Porter and Na Palm. Last spring’s Nest Fest featured Taking Back Sunday, 3oh!3, Jack’s Mannequin and The Maine at the same venue.

Eaglepalooza cost $120,000, according to records.Khayata said it was a success, but not every student agrees with spending that kind of money on the shows.

“I feel that the amount of money being spent on these events is simply ridiculous,” said Michael Pica, a sophomore majoring in psychology. “This money could be spent on funding countless projects that would actually enhance our school, rather than promoting talentless music and drunken debauchery.”

Pica says there is a lack of quality bands that are booked for the shows.

The programming board makes money from hosting the shows, and that money is used to keep ticket costs down and fund other programs on campus, says Khayata.

A chunk of the $120,000 plus spent for each concert is for booking the bands. Khayata says the programming board tries to spent a total of $50,000-$75,000 on the bands. The board spends the rest on stage, sound, light, equipment, back line, arena rental, security, food and Ticketmaster fees.

This year’s Eaglepalooza drew some controversy after the programming board announced that students would have to pay for a ticket. Khayata says they couldn’t have booked Pitbull ifthe concert was free. Pitbull alone cost around $75,000.

“Pitbull was by far the most expensive artist we have brought and it was a huge success—we were able to sell out the show with an artist who as performed all over the world,” she said.

Booking an artist like Pitbull is not an easy process, says Khayata. First, the programming board must find an artist whose schedule is free and who is willing to play a college show. Other students on the board who help make this decision include president Stephanie Miller, vice president Katie Rice and Live Entertainment director Melanie Heminger. Six other students hold positions on the programming board and contribute to the discussion.

After brainstorming, the board works with a middle agent tolook at their options and compete with other colleges that are looking to book.

The programming board tries to bring bands that are trending in the college scene. Khayata points to Slightly Stoopid and Pepper from 2009’s Nest Fest.

The board books the bands four-to-six months in advance, and then it’s all about promotion. The programming board spent $20,000 last year on event marketing, and a separate $3,000 on the Nest Fest announcement alone.

Khayata says Nest Fest and Eaglepaloozaare all about pleasing the students, although she acknowledges that they will never please all 13,000 students.

Posted in: Andrew Friedgen