The Virginia Tech Union is struggling to meet student concert expectations with a limiting budget.
This year’s homecoming concert, tonight at 7:30, will feature up-and-comer Kendrick Lamar and independent rap artist Hoodie Allen, as well as special guest DJ Rhetorik.
The event, sponsored by the Virginia Tech Union, is the first in VTU’s concert series for the school year.
However, enthusiasm for the show has not been at a record high, with some students dissatisfied with VTU’s artist selection.
“I feel like they could get bigger names to come to a big campus, especially on homecoming week,” said Sal Capone, a junior computer engineering major.
This sentiment has been a common complaint. But according to Eroica Williams, director of concerts for the VTU, the costs of bringing top names to Tech have become out of reach.
“We can only bring who we can afford, and just recently artists have skyrocketed in price,” Williams, a senior communication major, said. “So we have to get creative with up-and-coming artists.”
The logistics of booking a show can also be restrictive, involving not only the budget guidelines for both VTU and the artist, but also trying to align artist availability with venue availability.
“Our main priority is to bring someone the students want, so we’ll do either do survey research or see from word of mouth about who is getting a lot of hype,” Williams said.
According to Williams, VTU monitors social media carefully in an attempt to gauge student interest.
“Things like going on Twitter and seeing how many people from Tech follow (the prospective artist),” Williams said.
Despite this, sophomore political science major Emma Weiss thinks the choices this year are lackluster.
“Other schools get really big names for their homecoming week,” Weiss said.
While admitting that the concert committee has made poor decisions in the past, Williams pointed out the importance of allocating a budget overall.
“We could just do a really big show and do one concert for the year, but we think that doesn’t go along with our mission of bringing entertainment to a diverse group of people,” Williams said. “That’s why we try to have multiple concerts throughout the year, so for the people who are disappointed with (today's) lineup, they could be excited for another show throughout the year.”
The homecoming concert has been the only show fully sponsored by the VTU this year. While they co-sponsored Victoria Secret's Pink concert in September, they were not a part of the artist selection for that event.
Last year, VTU sponsored three major shows: John Legend, Plain White T’s and the Avett Brothers.
The VTU holds regular meetings that any student can attend where concert selection for the year is discussed.
“Every voice counts, there’s no bad suggestion,” Williams said. “The only things that I have to absolutely say no to are the things that are out of my budget, that’s just a variable I can’t control.”
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