When working in the college market student activities is the most visible event producer on a college campus. There is always a Campus Activities Director who ultimately signs the contracts and essentially designs the events calendar. This person is also the student advisor for the various student committees that help plan the events.
Some of the student committees that you may have come in contact with are the Concert Committee, that produces large concert events,a coffeehouse committee, that produces smaller events, a lecture committee that helps produce a variety of lecture programs with famous speakers, authors, newsy or noteworthy people, to name just a few. These three committees are the ones you will most likely work with as you attempt to line up a performance through the Student Activities Office.
Insights to Navigate Dealing with Student Committees:
- Always find out who the Student Activities director is and who the Faculty Advisor is for your specific committee. By knowing the faculty person who is ultimately responsible for signing the contract, you maintain contact with a person you can connect with when contacting the student committee member becomes difficult.
- Students on committees often rotate every semester. This is a fact that can frustrate your efforts to finalize a booking. With committee members changing, irregular office hours and students who are basically doing this for fun; a professional performing artist must put up with making a lot of extra phone calls to track down your student booker before finalizing a date.
- Since you are the professional in this instance, you may find yourself spending some time educating the students about how to best book and present your act. This is part of the process when working with college campuses.
- As the student body changes from one semester to the next, so do the entertainment tastes, fads, and fashion. What might have been hot on campus one semester is passé the next.
- Student Activities committees mostly rely on two college booking conferences to see and book their next season’s acts. NACA- National Association of Campus Activities naca.org and APCA- Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities apca.com. Both of these organizations host national conferences, and NACA hosts a series of regional booking conferences as well.
Benefits of working with Campus Activities Office:
- They have student money that needs to be spent each semester or they don’t get as much the following semester. They don’t need to make money in some instances. There are some campuses that run a professional club and have professional bookers, paid student wait staff, and tech crews. They run these clubs like a business. It is these campus clubs where I have always preferred to book my acts.
- Working through the activities office helps you break into a new market with a paid gig, gives you access to campus radio and newspaper and does not preclude your contacting the local media for additional off-campus marketing.
- Campus Activities has been a place where many major artists get their start. It is these very college student committee members whose interests in the latest styles, fads, and new talent, that helps bring attention to little know emerging acts and give them a venue.
It was just a few years before I attended, but, it was at my college campus coffee house where an unknown John Denver played one of his first gigs. And it was at my community college where a then, very young, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, played one of their first concerts. I also recall being at a showcase for Campus Activities in NYC where I saw a fresh out of college comic, Billy Crystal, do a stand-up routine that eventually landed him on Saturday Night Live. As they say, the rest is history.
- Campus gigs help you tour while making money. They allow you to intersperse well-paying college gigs with career building promotional, opening or showcase gigs at venues that may not pay as well.
So, as frustrating and as rewarding as working with Student Activities student committees may be when working in the college market, it may also be a worthwhile career investment.
What have your experiences been like when working with students on a student activities committee?
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I can’t wait to hear about your success.
Next week: College Market Performing Arts Centers
Thanks to Carol Ehrlich for this week’s Biz Booster graphic image, “College Market Student Activities.”
Now, Thanks to the Band Curfew from the UK for providing the Biz Booster theme Music, Future Dance. Check them out at www.curfew.co.uk.
And for more career-boosting tips, articles, books, resources, teleseminars and online courses, visit me at Performingbiz.com.