Late headliner switch handled smoothly by entertainment committee

Katelynn Mccollough

The Veishea entertainment committee experienced a unique challenge this year when being told near the beginning of March that the headlining act for Live @ Veishea would no longer be able to make it to the stage due to scheduling conflicts.

Ludacris, a successful hip-hop artist and actor, was originally announced as the headliner for the Veishea concerts Jan. 26. On March 6, Veishea made the announcement that T.I., also a successful hip-hop artist and actor, would be replacing Ludacris as the main act.

“I think this is the first time we’ve ever had the headliner switch,” said Mitchell Kenne, co-chairman of the Veishea entertainment committee.

Kenne, who has been involved in Veishea for three years, explained that second and third tier acts have been switched in the past.

“At first, I’d say we were kind of shocked that there was a scheduling conflict with Ludacris,” said Mikayla O’Brien, co-chairwoman of the Veishea entertainment committee. “All in all, T.I. is a great replacement, so we were super excited to make an offer and he confirmed to take that place pretty quickly.”

O’Brien, who has also been active in Veishea for three years, explained that the transition happened quickly, but overall went smoothly since Ludacris and T.I. share the same agent.

O’Brien and Kenne both believe that T.I. will appeal to a majority of individuals who attend Veishea festivities as he is a fairly recognizable name for many college students.

“T.I. was on one of the biggest songs of the year, Blurred Lines, this past summer,” Kenne said. “He’s been around for quite awhile.”

Booking the headlining entertainment for Veishea, one of Iowa State’s oldest campus traditions, begins early in the fall semester. Choosing and booking the artists that will visit campus in April can start as early as September and October so the acts can be booked at lower prices. Finding entertainment is also more complicated than many would think.

“We can’t just pick anyone we want to bring,” O’Brien explained of how choosing possible entertainment works. “It doesn’t really work like that. It’s kind of artists that are touring colleges, so we look at those lists first and break it down from there.”

Several other factors are also involved when it comes to finding the right artist to book. George Micalone, general adviser for Veishea and director of student activities, said that pricing, relationships with the different agencies and an artist’s desire to perform on a college campus or in Iowa are all factors.

Funding for Veishea comes from five different revenue streams including ticket sales from entertainment, registration fees, internal and external sponsorships, the Government of the Student Body and the president’s office.

Ticket sales from all entertainment events pay for the Veishea concerts. This year, Micalone said that Veishea spent $200,000 on entertainment altogether, the most that has ever been spent on Veishea artists.

Prices of tickets have gone up, which has allowed Veishea to bring in bigger names in entertainment each year. Micalone explained that before 2008, the concerts were free, but they started charging $5 a ticket for both days of concerts that year. In 2009, the concerts moved to the Molecular Biology parking lot and ticket prices increased each year to bring in larger and larger entertainment.

This year, tickets were sold at $20 per individual night or $25 for both nights. Tickets can also be purchased on the days of the concert, but students will need to bring a student ID to make the purchase at the gate. Capacity for the concerts each night is set at 12,000 people.

“We are expecting to have record total sales this year,” Kenne said of how ticket sales were looking several weeks before the event. Kenne and O’Brien agreed that having notable entertainment, growth in Veishea and a strong public relations team have added to the increase in sales.

The two leaders of the entertainment committee will be busy organizing staff and working with production companies to get everything set up for the last weekend of Veishea. The concerts, which are set up in a festival style, will take place April 11 and 12 rain or shine, unless there is lightening.