Yesterday Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, the act intended to headline the College’s spring fling, called off their agreement to perform in Williamstown on April 14. Acting within the rights of their contracts, the duo canceled their performances both at the College and at Columbia (scheduled for April 13) in order to perform on MTV. Ben Lamb, assistant director of the Office of Student Life, sent an all-campus e-mail alerting the student body of the cancelation. Lamb also explained the agreement between ACE Concerts and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis included a standard 30-day cancellation policy.
All-Campus Entertainment (ACE) signed Macklemore as the headliner for the spring fling concert in January after two months of negotiations (“ACE inks Macklemore,” Jan. 16). It was only a week ago, on Feb. 20, that ticket sales for the Macklemore and Ryan Lewis concert went live. ACE sent multiple all-campus e-mails the week prior to ticket sales, explaining the guidelines of the concert. Only students of the College would be allowed to purchase tickets using their e-mail unix and SU box number. Each student would only be allowed to purchase one ticket at the price of $17 (including the $15 ticket cost and a $2 processing fee).
Ticket sales went live at 9 p.m. sharp, leading immediately to several technical issues with the hosting website, including a forced reload problem on the purchase page. The 800 tickets available for the concert were sold within minutes of the sale’s opening.
In response to the many e-mails that ACE Concerts Committee co-chairs Quinn Pitcher ’15, Sam Devine ’15 and Gabe Stephens ’15 received the night of the ticket sale, ACE leadership sent an all-campus e-mail on Feb. 21 explaining the reasoning behind the problems. They addressed the merchant website complications and acknowledged that those technical issues were out of their control. Most importantly, they explained why only 800 tickets were available for the performance. “Eight hundred tickets were sold, which represents the legal maximum capacity of Lasell [Gymnasium], with the stage required by Macklemore. We chose Lasell over the [Towne] Field House due to fire codes and cost: Towne can only hold 950 with the size of the stage Macklemore requires, but costs about $15,000 more in production costs due to the need for different staging, lighting and sound setups,” ACE Concerts wrote in their e-mail. “Our budget, which is strained as it is, just couldn’t accommodate the extra $15,000, especially considering the relatively slight gain in capacity we would get.”
Other options, that were presumably suggested by students, including the idea of hosting the performance outside or allowing students to volunteer at the show, were also addressed in the e-mail. “The truth is that the process of planning this concert fit exactly into the process of planning past concerts and other similar events, and that the issue of people not having tickets is a simple matter of incredibly high demand plus capacity limits inherent in holding events on campus,” Devine said.
“We tried to fit as much of the campus as possible into the event under a specific set of budgetary constraints, while keeping the ticket prices as low as possible,” Devine continued.
Yesterday, less than a week later, Lamb sent an e-mail from Student Life announcing that Macklemore and Ryan Lewis had cancelled their agreement to perform at the College in April. The e-mail guaranteed that the tickets already bought for the concert would be refunded through a process that has not yet been decided. Lamb wrote in an interview that, looking forward, Student Life’s priority would be to work with both ACE and College Council (CC) to “bring the best performance to the most students that we can muster.” This e-mail suggested that Macklemore and Ryan Lewis might be available for a different date. “Finding an alternative date for Macklemore to come,” Lamb said, is his ideal goal. “Macklemore has pulled out. It’s not as bad as it sounds. They did offer us some alternative dates, which is nice. But we’re not going to nail down which those are yet because we don’t know availability of buildings,” Stephens said. “We do know for sure that the concert will not happen in Lasell because Lasell is busy on all their alternative dates. So there is a chance – a very small chance, but still a chance – we could do it potentially in Towne or in a different venue that’s smaller. So it could get bigger or it could get smaller. We don’t know yet. There are a lot of other options that are up in the air.”
Stephens also explained that if the performance moved to a larger venue, the ticket prices would necessarily have to increase. This price increase will have to be approved by CC because the original budget for the concert agreed upon in the fall stipulated that the tickets could not exceed $15. “When we initially decided on the cost for each ticket, what we looked at was how much time a student was going to have to spend working on campus instead of doing their work or other extracurricular activities,” Adrian Castro ’14, CC co-president said. “What we determined was that one to two hours of work wasn’t too much to ask for in order to pay for a ticket. If you get paid the minimum amount, which is $8.25, and you work for roughly two hours, you would be able to buy a Macklemore ticket.”
Castro went on to explain that CC would like the concert to continue to be affordable to all students. When asked about CC’s ability to give more money to ACE to offset the costs, Castro explained that there would be many different conversations happening in the near future in regards to the issue. “We want to be sure that if we were to give money to offset the increase in ticket costs, that we’re still able to provide the funds necessary for all other groups on campus,” Castro said. “We definitely want the act [Macklemore and Ryan Lewis] to continue, but we also don’t want to fork over more money and then face not having enough money to provide for every other group and student on campus.”
While there are many options on the table going forward, Student Life, ACE and CC have yet to make a decision. “It has a pretty good potential of turning out well for the campus,” Stephens said. “There are a lot of options on the table that could potentially increase the quality of the concert. So it could have a pretty significant silver lining depending upon what happens in the subsequent weeks.”