Doritos, towels and broccoli: Oh my!

by Anne Millerbernd

Spring Jam performers have historically made strange requests on their rider lists — items requested for onstage, in their dressing room or on their tour bus.

From SpongeBob SquarePants fruit snacks to organic broccoli florets, this year’s artists are no different.

In addition to the tens of thousands of dollars that the University pays for the annual festival’s performers, Student Unions and Activities staff also make trips to the grocery store to buy food, drinks and other items to keep the artists happy.

Requests made

Of the eight Spring Jam artists with performance contracts, five have rider lists. SUA promises “best efforts” to meet the artists’ demands, according to the contracts.

“Usually, there’s a list of items that they know they would enjoy, and I think venues do the best they can to provide that stuff,” said Erik Dussault, assistant director of student activities.

Poliça, the Friday afternoon band, requested nine organic items, including nuts, fruits and sandwich meats and cheeses.

Gloriana requires more than 20 items, including a bag of mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and a small bottle of balsamic vinaigrette for their bus stock.

SUA Program Board marketing coordinator Ashley Herink said The Mowgli’s requested that in the event that Mila Kunis shows up at their concert, she must be let in.

If an artist doesn’t include hospitality requests in their contract, as three artists didn’t, SUA may supply some items anyway, Dussault said.

Requests denied

The University satisfies requests as best as it can, but there are some things it can’t provide.

Every performer who included a rider in their contract requested alcohol, but University policy states that the institution’s money can’t go toward alcohol.

Poliça, Earl Sweatshirt and Mac Miller included Red Bull in their riders. But because the University has a contract with Coca-Cola, it can only supply performers with Coke products.

Miller also requested tobacco products, which can’t be purchased with University funds.

There are occasions when SUA staff can’t find certain requested items, in which case they simply don’t provide them. Dussault said that isn’t usually a problem.

“Performers don’t normally go through and check to see that everything on their rider was [supplied],” he said. “I mean, this is the same rider that goes along with contracts for a lot of different venues.”

Negotiating contracts

Miller has the highest price tag this year at $75,000, which exceeds the University’s expenses for the entire festival in past years.

SUA students and staff research what performers usually ask for before they settle on a number and then negotiate from there, Dussault said.

This year’s lowest-paid performer is California-based Finish Ticket,  at $500.

Negotiations can vary depending on whether a group has to fly to Minneapolis exclusively to perform or if Spring Jam is on the group’s way between two venues, Dussault said.

SUA boasted the biggest Spring Jam in the festival’s history this year, but Dussault said that doesn’t mean each performer is higher-profile than in the past — rather, the combined list of performers is more high-profile.

Slow ticket sales

The University is shelling out about $190,000 for Spring Jam performers this year, tripling what it has paid in the past. But Dussault said the goal is to earn enough back in ticket sales so that the overall spending is similar to past festivals.

For now, ticket sales are slow, Herink said — they tend to sell quickly in the first few days after the performers are announced, and they jump back up closer to the festival.

Herink said she hasn’t gotten any negative feedback about the artist selection on social media or elsewhere.

“From what students are commenting on Facebook or Twitter is that they’re excited for at least one of the performers,” she said, “which is exactly what we tried to do.”