Summer School’s In Session! Introducing A New Fest From Kevin Lyman, Mike Kaminsky & Eric Tobin: Exclusive

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Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman, KMGMT’s Mike Kaminsky and Hopeless Records’ Eric Tobin have joined forces as founders of idobi Radio Summer School, a new traveling festival with artist development and community at its core.

The pop punk and alternative rock lineup features Stand Atlantic, Magnolia Park, The Home Team, Scene Queen, Letdown., and Honey Revenge. Stand Atlantic and Scene Queen are both signed to Hopeless Records, while KMGMT manages Stand Atlantic. The fest will make stops at more than 25 cities across the U.S. with the shows held at 2,000- to 3,000-capacity venues. Summer School enters into session starting July 10 at Cleveland’s Agora Ballroom. Venues on the routing include Nashville’s Marathon Music Works, Philadelphia’s Franklin Music Hall, Chicago’s Concord Music Hall, Denver’s Fillmore Auditorium, Showbox SoDo in Seattle and SOMA San Diego.

“As a management company almost every artist we’ve ever signed has been from their first show ever,” says Kaminsky, the founder and president of KMGMT. “And Eric, who’s the EVP of A&R at Hopeless Records, signs really young bands and takes them to gold and platinum status. Eric and I were inspired by Warped Tour, where I think the best way to really develop an artist is to put them [on stage] … to get people in front of live music and get them excited about the artist.”

Kaminsky explains that since Warped Tour wrapped with its final, full cross-country run in 2018 followed by the pandemic, there haven’t been a lot of opportunities for independent artists in genres such as alternative rock and pop punk to embark on national touring runs that will help develop the next generation of headliners.

Reflecting on his own experience as a youth, Tobin points out the need for community — to give kids a place to go and to be a part of something. Tobin clarifies that the founders “don’t feel that we are in competition with other festivals in our community but we are all part of building and maintaining the long legacy of this scene. … We just feel there is room for everyone to support and we have a special niche in it all.”

Looking at the lineup, Tobin points out that the top four billed acts have all done great business in different markets, with artists such as Scene Queen already playing 1,000-cap rooms on their own.

Kaminsky adds, “What we’re trying to do is just put together a very exciting package of the current tastemakers, the future headliners.”

Another big draw for fans is the low ticket price, which is set at $30-$35. The founders were able to pull that off by implementing a different strategy for incorporating sponsors. Kaminsky explains that “pretty much 100% of the sponsor money is going to pay the art-ists and lower the ticket price.” The festival is sponsored by ONErpm and Hot Topic.

Presales begin April 1, followed by the general onsale April 5.

Asked how Summer School compares to Warped Tour, Lyman says he would compare it to the “earliest, earliest days” of the famed festival. The roots of Warped Tour’s social activism will live on with 50 cents a ticket going to charity under the Unite the United umbrella. You can also expect to see tabling from nonprofits at the festival.

Lyman notes that it was important to work with like-minded managers and “to get every one on the same page to make this work. And for some artists, that might be taking a half a step back to move two forward, and everyone understanding that it’s going to be a sense of community and cooperation. … If this tour’s successful these bands will be headlining these venues on their own on their next tour.”

It’s universally accepted that festivals don’t expect to make a profit the first few years. Ly man says, “At the beginning, you’re building a brand, and brand building really takes some time.”

While he’s excited to be putting together the technical part of the tour, Lyman himself isn’t looking to go back on the road. Rather, he says, “We’re giving some people a chance to kind of step up in their careers. Even though we’re gonna have a small team on the road this will be the biggest thing these people have worked on.”

The founders were able to include some up-and-coming talent from Lyman’s classes he teaches at USC’s Thornton School of Music as an associate professor of practice.

When plotting out the routing, Lyman reached out to promoters who were doing really well in those markets and who he thought had “a real grip on what their local market is all about. … You have to find that local promoter that’s working with some of these bands in these venues and understands how to reach those fans in a different way.”

Kaminsky adds, “We’re at the point in our lives and maybe as an industry where we just have to work with people that we like and share similar values, who are good people and treat people respectfully. Kevin’s like a second dad to me and Eric’s been my best friend since the day I started in the music industry. …. It’s really been a lot of fun to build a community not just of fans but of people within the industry to rally around the cause of developing artists again.”