College Crowd-Sourcing Concerts On The ‘Up & Up’

After two festivals at Washington State and Wake Forest universities last fall proved a “crowd-sourced” college concert series could succeed, Monster Energy Up & Up Festival is back with four campuses winning the chance to produce their own shows with rising EDM star Alan Walker.

The festival is the brainchild of Idol Roc, an asset management and marketing company that has partnerships with Monster Energy, Live Nation, Interscope and others to develop innovative brands and concepts.

San Jose State University was one of the four concert winners, along with University of California, Davis; Washington State University and University of Texas, Austin.

Stephen Glazer
– Stephen Glazer

This year, 16 colleges competed for four concert opportunities; next year, the number of host schools will increase to eight, with more than 20 campuses, and a potential market of more than 500,000 students, taking part.

Stephen Glazer, a co-founder and managing partner of Idol Roc, spoke to Pollstar on the eve of the rollout of the 2017 edition of Up & Up, which will launch Oct. 26 at the City National Civic in San Jose, Calif.

Explain, briefly, what the Monster Energy Up & Up Festival is and how it is booked.

The Up & Up Festival empowers college students to produce a concert featuring a major headlining artist by competing on a nationwide, online contest. The colleges who pre-order the most tickets in 48 hours win the show. 

I see Alan Walker is repped by Paradigm/CODA. Can you tell me who worked with you to book Alan and how that collaboration worked?

We worked with Harris Lewis, who is Alan’s agent at Paradigm, as well as Bjorn Barnekow at Bad Taste Empire, his management company. Alan and his entire team have been both supportive and a pleasure to work with.

Did they have approval or veto power over any appearances?

They approved all of the proposed appearances. It was critical to work with talent who were excited, open-minded, and patient to working together in pulling off this innovation. 

How do you decide which college campuses were among the final 16 to compete for the chance to stage a concert?

We consider many variable factors from the student population, to the history of music events, to most importantly the interest and engagement we receive after vetting the college and speaking with some of their student body.

How many tickets were pre-ordered in total? What happens to the pre-orders from colleges that did not place in the top four that will make up the tour?

More than 4,500 tickets were pre-ordered among the top four winners, and another several hundred from the non-winning colleges. Credit cards were held until there were four confirmed winners and then we released the authorizations immediately for the non-winning schools. The Up & Up Festival even offered a refund period to those who couldn’t attend after learning the date/location when the shows were officially announced.

What tactics did the four winning colleges employ that surprised you or were particularly creative?

Our student ambassadors invited all their friends onto a Facebook Event Page, with a call to action about competing against a bunch of other colleges to win a concert with Alan Walker. They created hype videos, some of which went viral on campus, driving their peers to our website, which listed a date and time for the contest. 

Alan Walker ended up sharing and retweeting the videos, amplifying them even more. Digital efforts were complemented by ambushing offline events such as Welcome Week and Rush Week, hitting up the freshman dorms, going door-to-door to sorority and fraternity houses, securing local media coverage and hanging posters around town, telling them to pre-order during the 48-hour contest period.

Minutes before the contest launch, our ambassadors spread a link that offered a code for a free ticket to the first 100 people. The feature event image had to be shared to retrieve it, which subsequently bombarded Facebook feeds, amplifying it further, with urgency. It all coalesced into the build-up for the big online contest that the students didn’t want to lose. These tactics are explained in this “Secret Sauce to Winning” video’.

How much participation by college students is there? Do they all work on one team, or does someone work with them to promote, book a venue, distribute tickets, sell merch, food & beverage, etc.?

The Up & Up Festival is a team of passionate concert promoters and producers hoping to inspire the next generation of us – and those who wouldn’t have the real-life opportunity otherwise unless they worked for a company like ours or have with capital, experience and contacts to throw an event of this scale on their own.

This is a full collaboration with our team, starting with conversations about the talent which would be the best fit, to what the creative and promotion plan should look like, to deciding the best location and date to host the show.

Typically, there are a few students who are the firestarters that act as an extension of us, but they engage their student body and unite them to create the buzz on campus. The participation is geared more towards creative and being promotional partners; however, we are responsible for administering all of the associated contracts and production of the show. 

How did Alan Walker get involved?

We initially met Alan when he headlined our Gaming night at the Monster Energy Outbreak House at the SXSW Festival in March of 2017. We thought he would be a great fit for the Up & Up Festival, so we proposed the opportunity to him and his team. They immediately understood our vision and felt inspired to get involved. 

Can you tell us how last year’s Up & Up festival benefited those participating, and how you expect it to perform?

The Up & Up festival offers many benefits to the participating students. We are providing a solution to high ticket prices or an inaccessible artist by changing the way ticket is sold. 

This is not just a typical show at or near their campus. Our tagline says, Student Won, Student Run. There’s a substantial pride of ownership here for the students, and we’ve experienced the extreme amount of effort the students have put forth, along with the very positive feedback they have given.

The shows alone were great experiences. The students were able to witness headlining talent for very reasonable ticket prices. Our students gain first-hand knowledge of what it takes to plan and produce this concert experience.

That is something very important to us at Idol Roc. Last year, we hired a student from one of the winning schools to spend the summer in Los Angeles as part of our internship program. That person is now a paid consultant for our company. We look forward to more stories like that, and with each year comes more learnings of how to further improve the Up & Up Festival. That said, we expect even more significant results this year and moving forward. 

Can you tell us a little about IdolRoc Entertainment?

Established in 2001, Idol Roc, Inc. is an asset ownership and management company with a proven history of success. We offer a focused approach to building brands with good people aspiring to innovate and achieve satisfying results while feeling inspired and enjoying the journey.

We are serial entrepreneurs committed to finding creative solutions, putting forth a relentless effort, and maintaining a high standard of quality work that gets the job done. Idol Roc has a long history and expertise in producing music events and tours – most notably, the highly successful Monster Energy Outbreak Tour which is known for featuring breakout talent amidst their defining moment. The Outbreak Tour was launched in 2011 and has grown each year substantially since. It is the largest national touring brand in the club and theatre space.