A Behind The Scenes Look at OH-Fest Artist Selction

SUNY Oneonta

Eric Cullen, Contributing Writer

While the wonders of OH-Fest may still be many months off, the machinations of the event have already started churning. On Wednesday, November 11, dozens of students, many of them mortally concerned Music Industry majors, gathered for the preliminary hearing on artist selection. In a process involving duffle bags full of iClickers, three-dimensional bar charts, and more than a few shattered dreams, hundreds of artists had their validity decided upon.

Artists could get the axe for a multitude of reasons. Many acts that have reached a mid-level of success simply cost too much, even with a budget nearing $50,000. College touring is often considered some of the best show money, in sheer amount and reliability, which most entertainers can come across if they aren’t actively selling out arenas and other huge venues. Simply put, schools pay a premium and the checks don’t bounce.

Others are already booked out or will be on tour during the proposed date of OH-Fest. Talent agents and buyers often work months in advance, sometimes even booking shows over a year before they happen. With this type of scheduling, it’s easy to see how an in demand calendar could fill itself in very quickly.

Lastly, some artists use language that’s considered a bit salty for the Town Hall’s taste test.

While SUCO’s process may seem thorough enough within itself to compile a shortlist, students of Hartwick College delve into a similar process, and in the end the lists are matched for compatibility, much like a musical dating profile. And just like meeting your Tinder date in real life, things can, and have gone awry.

Besides censoring a handful of the words heard by the young minds that scurry through the streets and dwellings of Oneonta, the City Council also has the final say when it comes to the festivities using space downtown. To get the town to agree to host such a tumultuous event, a barrage of various E-Board and Student Association members from both colleges effectively lobby the council and hold numerous meetings to ensure that things don’t get too chaotic.

And, while all this takes place months before the festival, it doesn’t stop until the proverbial fat lady, or more literal headliner sings. The days leading up to the show will also be cut thick with the labor of production teams. “The Music Industry Club, and usually the Men’s Rugby Team” form a motley crew and assist more professional staff in the building of the stage and installation of the audio equipment, says Joanna Chiappone, SUNY Oneonta Student Association’s Vice President of Activities.

Pretty much every household name (Mac Miller, Kid Cudi, Vampire Weekend) was out of the budget. Logic and Mac Demarco were two of the more popular acts. Only a few dozen acts got the required majority vote out of about 250 artists. Some got under 10%, which was comical.

In total, OH-Fest is a laborious, but democratic process in which people can help out and have their voice heard in a variety of ways. Whether voting for an artist, cleaning up after the show, or becoming a vendor and sharing one’s culinary crafts or artistic wares, the festival brings people together and enables them to express and hopefully enjoy themselves in a rare town-encompassing way.

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