SAB concert picks a product of student surveys

Hunter Hayes and RaeLynn performed at the Student Activities Board’s latest concert after receiving the most survey votes last fall.

SAB sent a concert interest survey to students last semester, listing artists instead of genres like it has in past years. Students were able to vote for their top choices, and the top three were Hunter Hayes, AJR and Blackbear. The Spring Concert sold 1,093 tickets, the second lowest in four years.

SAB President Megan Neveau said the lower ticket sales were likely the result of polarized opinions about the country genre, among other things. She said they did take polarization into account when considering the slate, but there were enough factors to justify it as the right decision.

“We’re really confident in the concert because you can look up the survey results online, but like, Hunter Hayes was the number one pick,” Neveau said. “We contracted Hunter Hayes because that is directly what the students told us, so we’re really excited. It’s a different genre than we’ve had in the past many years, and we think it’s important to hit different audiences on campus.”

Big Concert Event chair Rebecca Gramlich said the committee started their search for this year’s talent in April 2018. She said the process starts with consulting industry professionals, such as talent agents, who help determine which artists are popular around St. Louis, Kansas City and Kirksville, and who would be willing to perform at a college and within the SAB budget. SAB then sent out the survey with 16 artists to choose from.

Neveau said in past years, the survey only included genres, but this year students could choose which artist they preferred. She said this is more difficult because prices can change or an artist might decide to no longer play at colleges, but they have already created an expectation that this artist might appear.

Gramlich said the committee used the survey results from September to create a slate, an order in which it would make an offer to performers. She said this year’s slate took a five-hour meeting to create.

“We can’t technically say the order [of the slate],” Gramlich said. “But I can say that Hunter Hayes was the number one on the student survey, like the most popular choice, and that reflected in where he was placed offer-wise.”

Gramlich said this year the process took about a year, but time for planning varies depending on the size and popularity of the act.

Gramlich said she thinks it’s important for SAB to provide students with this kind of entertainment on campus because other performances of this size and quality are at least an hour and a half away.

Neveau said because of contract restrictions, she could not disclose how much SAB paid Hunter Hayes and RaeLynn to perform, but the total event budget was $120,000. She said the motion that contains the slate also stipulated that the budget was the same no matter who performed.

The total SAB budget decreased this year because of the lower enrollment. What was a $271,350 budget last school year is now $259,000. Neveau said this smaller budget mainly affects the Final Blowout at the end of the year, which will now be funded with money not spent by other committees throughout the year.

Gramlich said she thinks it is an effective use of the SAB budget because their surveys indicate that a majority of students prefer one large concert as opposed to multiple smaller ones.

“SAB works almost all their planning off of how students answer the student survey,” Gramlich said. “So, we’ve been doing bigger — one big concert the past couple years because that student survey has been consistently saying we want one big concert.”