UPC works to bring J.Cole to campus

After months of deliberation, debate and rumors flying around campus, the University Program Council has begun the final preparations to bring a Grammy-nominated artist to UNA May 1.

J. Cole, a rap recording artist, is the performer the programming organization has decided to bring to campus for the spring concert.

“He is somebody new and fresh that could bring a new sound to UNA that hasn’t been heard in a while,” said Coordinator of Programming Cheryl Mathis.

UPC has entered into the final stages of working out a contract with J.Cole’s management team and concert promoters, Mathis said.

After having $31,000 transferred from SGA’s Senate branch, UPC plans to supplement its programming with the additional money, Mathis said. J.Cole’s booking cost alone will cost UPC approximately $72,000.

Previously, UPC was in discussion with artists such as Keri Hilson, Need to Breathe and the Civil Wars among others, Mathis said.

“(Keri Hilson and NEEDTOBREATHE) didn’t work, generally, a lot of people are unaware of the bid process and it takes approximately two weeks to go through the bidding process and through the appropriate officials,” said UPC Vice President Will Riley. “We went back to square one, with we’ve got to find an artist.

“As soon as we found out the two artists didn’t work out, we started to research J.Cole.”

Riley said UPC was working hard to secure two headlining artists, but it wasn’t feasible in the time left to put on the show.

“If we would have kept searching for the two artists, we would have gotten really behind due to the bidding process,” Riley said. “This timeline would have been affected if we would have went for two artists.”

J.Cole’s price has slightly doubled since last year at this time, Riley said.

J.D. McCorkle, a senior business administration management major, and owner of Cork Industries, his concert booking agency, said UPC’s decision is not really the best one to make.

“The fact they were even trying to extend the budget for (Keri Hilson) was just appalling,” McCorkle said. “I think Need to Breathe would have brought a ton of people. They should look at putting more money into marketing than they do into paying their acts.”

Riley said UPC plans to work with other local colleges and universities in the area to get the word out there about the concert. The concert for members of the general public will cost approximately $20.

McCorkle said the way UPC markets the show is why it has not been a huge success in the past.

“What if they got people involved who actually know what’s going on with putting on an event, with marketing an event, with booking an event?” McCorkle said. “There’s definitely some lack of knowledge with the way it’s marketed and promoted.”

Jon Shyer, booking agent for Auburn Moon Agency, books UPC’s festivals each year and said the process is daunting.

“We’ve been in communication since August about this show,” Shyer said. “We start this months and months in advance.”

Shyer said he works with the students in order to pick the best artist for the concert.

“They come up with artists they enjoy,” Shyer said. “I come up with artists available in spring.

“We match up the wish list with what’s actually available.”

Shyer’s company works with many colleges and universities to put on concerts each year.

“We know what’s best for colleges, because our agency has focused on the market for 16 years,” he said. “We work for the budget, what works for the date… we work for what the students are paying.”

J.Cole is currently on the Campus Consciousness Tour (CCT). CCT is described by its website as a “half music tour, half social cause campaign.”

Their mission is to engage and educate “musicians and their fans to take action toward a more sustainable future.” They embrace green attitudes and attempt to leave a “minimal environmental footprint.”

“(CCT is an) Education minded, environmentally minded initiative that focuses on what students can do better for the environment,” said Jon Shyer, agent for Auburn Moon Agency.

CCT has been around since 2006 and has supported artists such as Guster, Wiz Khalifa, Janelle Monáe, Passion Pit and Ben Harper and the Relentless 7.

This year, the tour is bringing free Ben and Jerry’s ice cream to participating campuses. They will also be partnering with Head Count, an “organization that uses the power of music to register voters and raise political consciousness,” according to the website.

Students around campus have been varied on their opinions of the decision to bring J.Cole to campus.

Even though senior Nick Murphy doesn’t know who J. Cole is, he has a positive outlook for the UPC spring concert.

“I think it’s good musical development,” he said. “I think it’ll be good exposure for our campus. This is a small town, and I think it’ll be good for our campus.”

Graham Harkness is in the same boat.

“I really don’t know him. I’ve never heard of him before,” he said. “I think it would have a more eclectic draw as far as audience is concerned.”

Sophomore D’lavante Gibson does know who he is. He agrees with Murphy, but says that it will be a good time for students to experience new music.

“He’s becoming more popular and more known,” Gibson said. “For those who don’t know him, this would be a good time to come know what he is all about.”

DeForrest Brown Jr. knows who J. Cole is too but isn’t excited.

“He’s alright,” Brown said. “I think he’d be okay. It’s a decent name that’s not crap. I think it would be attractive to a lot of people.”

He adds that the Mutemath show from 2009 was a success because the band was more middle of the road that appealed to a wide audience.

McCorkle is not impressed at all.

“I mean, I think it’s cool; They could definitely do worse,” he said. “J. Cole is a good rising hip-hop artist – I just don’t know if that many people here know who he is.”

McCorkle remembers when UPC brought Big Boi to campus. He says that even though Big Boi is a huge hip-hop name, the concert was poorly attended. This might bode ill for J. Cole.

“J. Cole is definitely not (at the same status as Big Boi),” McCorkle said. “They are wanting to bring him to Florence where rising music isn’t really in focus.”