A female artist has never played at Occidental College’s SpringFest concert. Although the event is only five years old, students are already eager for change to promote new music and female voices. Yet with the current climate of the music industry, booking a female artist who students have heard of is much more difficult than it seems.
The Office of Student Life (OSL) and Programming Board have previously stated that they would be interested in booking a female artist. In a 2012 Oxy411 question and answer session, then-Assistant Director of Student Life Devon MacIver said that showcasing a strong female presence on stage should be a priority. Yet Common, a male rapper, ended up performing that year instead.
For the past five years, in a survey run by OSL and Programming Board, Occidental students have shown a preference for hip-hop artists. But the truth of the matter is that it is difficult to come up with a shortlist of female artists who Occidental could afford, let alone female hip-hop/R&B; artists. Students may have heard of Mary J. Blige, Erykah Badu, Rihanna, Missy Elliot and Beyoncé, but the chances of booking those artists on a liberal arts college budget are slim to none.
“It seems that female artists are typically on the more expensive side,” Programming Board Manager Joe Kling (senior) said. “I think it’s because there’s not as many female solo acts, so once an act makes it, she’s already out of our price range.”
However, that does not mean that finding an exciting female hip-hop artist is impossible. In 2011, the Programming Board booked Macklemore and Ryan Lewis to perform just after they dropped career-making album “The Heist.” Programming Board was able to book an act with a ubiquitous radio presence and chart-topping album sales for a fraction of what they were worth. They could do the same this year; all they need to do is look around to see who is on the brink of success.
“I don’t really care too much about name recognition,” Shea Backes (first-year) said. “I’d rather go to a concert for the music.” And he is not alone.
What it comes down to is that students just want to see a good show. And there seems no reason why that show can not feature a female performer, even if she might not be as well-known as a male performer of a similar price.