Controversy over ASNAU spring concert selection


By Sara Graper

Every fall, ASNAU puts out a ballot filled with tentative artists for the spring concert and, every year, students are not satisfied with the choices or the ultimate selection.

According to Makenzi Mastrud, ASNAU chief of staff, the artist selection is dependent on student answers.

“They’re definitely not random artists,” Mastrud said. “We put a lot of time and thought into who we put on the survey.”

Mastrud is in charge of selection of artists for the spring concert.  But if the selection isn’t random, why is there so much controversy and upset surrounding this year’s artist picks?

As of Sept. 24, an e-mail went out to all students encouraging them to vote for the spring concert artist-to-be.  The options were Tyga, GirlTalk, Calvin Harris, Jake Owen, Kid Cudi, Steve Aoki, The Fray and Kaskade.  Voting closed Friday, Sept. 28 and now the students of NAU wait to determine whether or not the concert is worth attending.

When questioned about the artist selection, Mastrud said “We go and look at different types of things like the Billboard Top 100, who has the most hit songs right now, who’s selling the most albums.”

But as of recently, the only artist option NAU had who was also listed on any of the charts on is Jake Owen.  On iTunes top hits, only Tyga, Calvin Harris and Jake Owen qualify

“We also try and get a general feel just from students just by asking them,” Mastrud said. “We like to see what a lot of students are posting on Facebook as well.”

But, according to Facebook, among artists like Steve Aoki, Kaskade, and GirlTalk, only Steve Aoki has over one million “likes.” In fact, GirlTalk only has just over 6,000 — even fictional character Jasper Cullen of Twilight has more.

But some students still seemed excited for the upcoming concert.

Sophomore Sam Barton, biology major and avid GirlTalk fan, was excited to see his favorite band on the list and said he was pleased with this year’s artist selection.

In comparison, freshman computer science major Kara Elecanal said the options “were limited.”

The spring concert is paid for with money from the 23 Fee, which a $23 undergraduate tuition charge and came into effect in the fall of 2010.  Since the beginning of the 23 Fee, students have had the opportunity to see Ke$ha, Dirty Nasty and All-American Rejects. The 23 Fee has also made it possible to extended library hours to 2 a.m. and pays for the SnowJack Express among other things, which are voted on by the students.

As Mastrud explained, “For the concert right now, we have about $140,000 budgeted,” which allows for a wider selection of artists.

When artists are selected, the tentative list is sent to SUN Entertainment coordinator, Rachel Cole, who helps with student unions and activities.  She approves the budget and determines if the artist is affordable for the campus.  After approval, the artist is put on the survey and the students vote.  This year, a staggering 9,934 students put in their opinion — almost half of the NAU student population.

“This year we really focused on advertising and PR for the survey alone and not just the concert because we want to make sure that every student voice is heard,” Mastrud said.

They seemed to achieve their result, but just because an artist is voted number one, doesn’t mean they will be headed to the NAU campus.

“We go ahead with the number one artist and see if they’re available for the time we would like them to come and then if they’re not available we go down the list to the second and third choice and if we have to keep going, then we just keep going,” Mastrud said.

While very excited for the concert, freshman Alex Tucker, public relations major, said “Let’s not get people’s hopes up for nothing, that’s just abuse.”

Last spring, the band LMFAO won, but was not available for the scheduled date. The second place winner, Kid Cudi, was not selected, while the All American Rejects were.

Regardless, Mastrud was nothing but excited when discussing the concert even though she couldn’t disclose the winning artist until contracts and dates are determined.

“I think that that house, DJ kind of music seems to be very popular and I think the artist who won the survey is an artist who is very appealing to a large population of students at NAU.”


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