MU's College Music Committee overcomes challenges to plan great concerts

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 | 11:34 a.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Imagine you are helping put on a concert for the rapper Big Sean. When he arrives, it is your duty to make him, along with his entourage of 10, feel comfortable.

It was a long trip to Columbia, and they let you know they are hungry. You take their orders and head to a diner, only to find out that it closed 45 minutes ago.

What do you do?

Kellie Donahoe, senior chairwoman of MU’s College Music Committee, has dealt with these kinds of situations more than once.

"I wanted to make him (Big Sean) and his entourage feel comfortable," Donahoe said. "Fortunately, I worked for Campus Bar & Grill at the time, so I ran there quickly, and had my managers make their food even though none of it was on the menu."

The music committee is a student-led democracy of 35 to 40 members devoted to planning, booking and promoting concerts held on campus.

"We negotiate everything ourselves," Donahoe said. "DSA is really like no other organization."

Serving on the committee is an opportunity to meet artists in the music industry and gain experience planning events. Still, there are headaches. Executive board member Christopher Chandler said the most challenging part of the job is all of the hoops they have to jump through to get things approved.

"There are so many different people we have to go through to get a concert approved that it can be challenging because so many people have different opinions," Chandler said. 

Another challenge is dealing with complaints from MU students. One of the most common complaints, Donahoe said, is a lack of top Billboard artists headlining the concerts.

"Artists are generally selected by who the students have told us they want to see come to Mizzou’s campus," executive board member Trevion Spearman said. "We often do polls through various social media outlets, such as our blog, ZouMusic and Facebook page."

Then there's a challenge of money. Because the music committee is under the Department of Student Activities, student fees fund its events, and that makes some artists nearly impossible to book.

"We have a lot less money than people believe," Donahoe said. "People have to take into account that some artists that they wish to see may not be within our budget."

Donahoe said the committee is allotted $79,000 annually for campus concerts, an amount that has been able to bring in artists like B.o.B, Fun. and most recently, Kendrick Lamar.

At the University of Oklahoma, the Campus Activities Council Concert Series receives $45,000 from Student Activity Fees to put on concerts, its associate director, Quy Nguyen said.

MU's music committee also has to take into account the reputation of certain artists.

"Some artists are not approved by the university," Donahoe said. "A lot of times with rappers, we have to talk to other (organizations) to make sure they support a certain artist performing on campus."

The committee also takes into account when certain artists are touring, because they are usually easier and cheaper to book at this time, Donahoe said.

Donahoe said the Campus Music Committee is planning for next semester, researching artists within the genres of pop rock, hip-hop and R&B. When school is in session, members meet at 6 p.m. every Tuesday in room 109 of Strickland Hall.

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.

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