By Maleesa Johnson and Phillip Ericksen
Good music is defined by an individual’s taste. That being said, popular music is measured by the charts and according to the charts, Baylor has not recently booked any
currently popular artists.
In contrast, country music powerhouse Lady Antebellum performed at Texas Christian University in October of 2010. This performance was also at an extremely successful point in their career. They won a Grammy, as well as a Country Music Award for Vocal Group of the Year and Single of the Year. The Fray performed on campus the next year, just prior to the release of their third studio album.
In May of 2012, Blake Shelton visited Texas Christian University. This was fresh off of his Country Music Awards success, including Entertainer of the Year, Best Male Vocalist and Best Song.
University of West Virginia, another recent Big 12 addition, has seen an even more varied group of musicians. Within the past year, rappers Kendrick Lamar and Wiz Khalifa have performed on campus, as well as country star Luke Bryan.
Other artists who have performed there include Ludacris, Maroon 5, Miranda Lambert, Snoop Dogg, 30 Seconds to Mars and Cee Lo Green. In 2007, Maroon 5 peaked at #1 on the Billboard Top 200, and every album since included #1 hit singles. Ludacris also topped the charts in 2010.
University of Oklahoma has hosted a more alternative-based genre of artists, such as Matt and Kim, Ben Kweller and Iron and Wine. Ben Rector has also performed there, but he has visited Waco’s own Common Grounds in recent years.
In a sense of currently popular musicians, Baylor’s biggest performing artist at the time she performed was Colbie Caillat at Diadeloso in 2010. That year she was awarded a Grammy for Album of the Year.
“We had Colbie Caillat the year before my freshman year,” said Round Rock sophomore Elizabeth Meszaros. “That would have been more interesting to me. I mean, I had heard of Parachute, but we do seem to have less popular bands.”
The following year, Chamber invited Jack Ingram to perform. He had a history of chart-topping singles and albums, but, after 2010 he quit producing new hits.
Similarly, in 2012, Parachute came to Baylor. Their highest -ranked album came out the year before, but failed to make it beyond number 19.
Most recently, this Dia featured the band Five for Fighting. In 2006, the album “Two Lights” reached number eight. Aside from a “best of” album released in 2011, the artist had not produced anything in the last three years.
“I’m not really a fan of any of the bands they’ve had for Dia in the four years I’ve been here,” said Sunnydale senior Garrett Smith. “I would never pay money to go see any of them.”
The director of Student Activities, Matt Burchett, is on the forefront of booking bands. He said the selection of performing artists for a Baylor event is a partnership between the student organization that sponsors the event and Baylor. The process includes a review with the university in order to guarantee that the organization’s event will be successful.
The first step is reliant upon the organization that wishes to invite an artist. This step is simply selecting whom they want to perform at the event.
The genre of music is determinate upon where the event is and what it is. After choosing the artist that Chamber wants, the organization submits a request online to the desired artist.
“The organizations sponsoring concerts on campus work diligently to book artists that their peers will enjoy and are consistent with the values of the university,” Burchett said. “This is a delicate balance but organizations do an exceptional job.”
Other organizations that bring live music artists to their events include Kappa Omega Tau, who partners with the Baylor Activities Council for the Christmas tree lighting concert, Baylor Activities Council for Traditions Rally, Uproar Concert Promotions, and Pi Beta Phi for Howdy.
It becomes apparent that according to the awards and rankings on music charts, Baylor has booked significantly less popular bands than other schools within the Big 12. Wakefield said location is primarily to blame. He said bigger name bands may feel less inclined to come based on the smaller audience present.
Although TCU is a smaller campus than Baylor, it has booked more prominent bands.
Baylor is required to guarantee a certain number of tickets will be sold, or in the case of free concerts, which are the majority of concerts at Baylor, the band has to receive as much money as if individual tickets were being paid for. Organizations that invite performing artists budget for this.
“Price is certainly a consideration when planning any program on campus,” Burchett said. “We work to be judicious stewards of our resources while striving to make our campus programs exciting and relevant for Baylor students.”
Another possible reason that Baylor hasn’t booked artists such as Snoop Dogg or Cee Lo Green references Burchett’s statement above. The university’s values cannot be compromised in this entertainment process. As a Baptist university, it would not be appropriate for Baylor to book artists that use profanity or other risque innuendos.
Wakefield mentioned that notable “less popular” bands frequent Common Grounds. These include Mutemath, Quiet Company and the Civil Wars. He said the reason bands like these are not booked regularly at Baylor is due to venue size.
According to both venues’ official websites, Common Grounds can fit 600 people whereas Waco Hall can fit 2,200. Wakefield said that were Baylor to have a more mid-sized venue, bands like those that play at Common Grounds would be more likely to be booked.
When it comes to big venues, Wakefield compared the Ferrell Center to the Frank Erwin Center in Austin.
Once again, due to location, it is not likely that a big performing artist would feel obligated to book a show at the Ferrell Center. However, big shows take place regularly at the Erwin Center.
“When we get our new stadium, there is a possibility that we might book bigger bands,” Wakefield said. “It will be a larger venue.”