Megan Brunmier '08, the program advisor for the Entertainment Board (E-Board), met with the Orient yesterday afternoon to discuss the process by which bands are booked for Ivies. Last week, Passion Pit's agent, with whom the E-Board is currently negotiating an Ivies appearance, contacted Student Activities and requested that the Orient remove its January 29 article, "Passion Pit accepts bid, scheduled for Ivies show," from its Web site.
At the time of the request, the band's agent said that the article, which included a bid price for Passion Pit, was causing problems in the negotiations of the band's other contracts.
Though Brunmier was unable to comment on the agent's request, she said that she saw an opportunity in the dispute to inform the community on the somewhat mysterious process of bringing a band to campus.
When E-Board has an act in mind, it begins the booking process by contacting its agent, Chris Barber, a senior agent at Pretty Polly Productions. Barber was unavailable for comment.
"[Barber] can sort of give us the lay of the land in terms of the availability of artists, the dates, the economy, things like that," said Brunmier.
Barber will then contact the artist's representative and get a sense of how much a performance would cost. The E-Board assesses whether or not it can afford the act, and if it can, the Board makes an offer.
"That offer is sort of preliminary and it comes in the form of a bid," said Brunmier. "It's a Bowdoin letterhead document that basically says the very skeletal, black and white issues with the show, so the date, the location, whether or not tickets will be sold, and then whether we'll be paying for transportation, or whether the offer is what's called inclusive."
"That bid can be accepted, which then only amounts to a soft commitment from the artist that Bowdoin is on their calendar," continued Brunmier. "And that's really all it is, it's Bowdoin on their calendar."
Passion Pit accepted E-Board's bid over Winter Break.
"In the grand scheme I think it's most important to the E-Board that campus realize that none of the nitty-gritty of this deal is set in stone merely upon a bid acceptance, and that is where we stand right now," said Brunmier.
According to Brunmier, the bid "creates this negotiation ground on which to then begin the contracting process."
"Only once the contracts have been signed is there any sort of formal agreement between the groups and any sort of certainty, kind of, that an artist will come," she added.
Even contracts do not necessarily guarantee that an artist will perform, however, as most "large, high-profile acts" include clauses in their contracts that allow them to call the deal off if they receive a better offer.
"In some ways there's actually no certainty that that person is going to come even after the contracts have been signed," said Brunmier.
The ball is currently in Passion Pit's court in terms of negotiations. The next step is for the band to send the E-Board a formal contract, a contract rider, a press kit and a biography among other materials such as photos and the W-9 form.
"The formal contract is usually a contract similar to bid in that it lays out the nuts and bolts," said Brunmier.
After receiving the formal contract, Brunmier edits it and reviews their contract rider to ensure that the College can accommodate the band's accoutrement.
"Then I draft a Bowdoin contract," said Brunmier. "It's generally standard for all of the performers but then I tweak it or I make it more specific if I feel like there are going to be specific concerns with a particular artists."
In light of Sean Kingston's exceedingly brief performance at last year's Ivies, Brunmier now emphasizes a minimum length of performance in her contracts.
"Last year's [spring concert] we put in the requirements for the length of time of the performance, but now I make that bold and on the and on the first page and a very clear demand," she said.
According to Brunmier, there has been "no examination of any of the [Passion Pit] contracts" yet.
"I don't have a status on Passion Pit right now," said Brunmier.
In regards to the still-uncertain nature of the Ivies lineup, Brunmier said, "This year's [spring concert] is really not any different than other in that acts take a while to make up their minds as to whether or not they can make it."
The uncertainty is part of the process, she added, as "a lot of variables go into whether or not an artist will come."
E-Board Co-chair Chris Omachi '12 agreed.
"It's hard to announce who's coming because it's never really certain until very close to that point," he said.
If negotiations with Passion Pit fall through, it is unlikely that the E-Board will find a replacement for them.
"If they pull out really late, then there's nothing we can do. You can't book an artist that big that last minute," said Omachi.
In the event that Passion Pit does not perform at Ivies, the E-Board's unused funds will go to other events.
"There's about one event every two weeks that's being put on by the E-board this semester and they're all pretty big events. It's possible that the money could be used to go toward any one of those other events," said Brunmier.
Because negotiations are still in progress, Brunmier said she felt that it is best if publications such as the Orient wait until after the performance to release details of the business deal.
"This one show date involves three different deals and three different tabled negotiations and industry etiquette would dictate that, really not until even after the show, are these kinds of conversations about what was agreed on financially and some of the other commitments that both parties have made be released," she said.
Though Brunmier said that she does not "know what bands are finding significant when they are considering other deals...There are implications for the other bands as well on this deal."
"Before contracts are signed in any business deal it's inaccurate to assert at any point what the deal is made up of," she added.
"Our contract doesn't include anything about confidentiality," said Brunmier. "It is an issue of etiquette."
"In addition to wanting to just respect that there are industry etiquette standards, there are also very practical concerns for wanting to be able to create a working relationship that ends up in an incredibly successful show on May 1 and one that sort of leaves everyone with as few scars as possible," said Brunmier.
"Our agent is doing everything he can to work with Passion Pit's agents," she added.
According to Brunmier, the process of booking the spring concert has been a learning experience for the E-Board in terms of satisfying student interest as well as music industry etiquette.
"There's a challenge that the E-board has in balancing wanting to be honest with students and transparent about the decisions that are being made...with the fact that any information that's being put out there isn't Bowdoin community information, it becomes world information," said Brunmier.
While the balancing act can be difficult at times, Brunmier celebrated the E-Board's commitment to student involvement.
"It's encouraging that so many of the decisions made by the Board this last semester and early this semester have been student-centered, student-focused and student-motivated decisions," said Brunmier.
"In the past [Campus Activities Board] CAB, the previous group to E-Board, didn't really indulge that much, didn't really give out that much information about, specifically money," said Omachi. "There hasn't been a precedent for showing the budget."
"This is its [the E-Board's] inaugural year and with that comes some sort of learning process when the philosophy of the Board has completely shifted," said Brunmier. "This year the Board has been trying to err on the side of reaching out to students."