After Rexha pulled out of her contract with TU, Springfest underwent some changes.
Plans for this year’s Springfest changed drastically on March 27 when Springfest Director Catherine Aaronson announced on the Student Association Facebook page that headliner Bebe Rexha had cancelled her appearance.
In the post, Aaronson explained that Rexha had chosen to pull out of her contract with TU.
“While Smallpools will still perform and the art crawl will still go on as expected, we are exploring several additional options both in artists and programming throughout the week to replace this gap,” Aaronson wrote. “On behalf of my team, SA, and all of those that have been involved in the planning [of] Springfest, I ask that you please be patient with us as we work to do what we can.”
Smallpools, originally the opening act, were re-designated as the headlining band. SA announced through another post on April 3 that Lil Xan would be joining Smallpools as a second Springfest headliner and Knox Hamilton would be the opening act.
When asked why Rexha had chosen to pull out of Springfest, Aaronson explained that she “was offered a different opportunity to advance her career,” which she decided to pursue instead.
“Any artist is able to pull out of a contract,” she continued.
Aaronson said that the Springfest committee chose not to pursue legal action because Rexha offered to still do the show — in the fall semester of next year.
The committee chose not to commit to a fall 2018 show, knowing that next year’s Springfest organizers may choose to take the event in a different direction.
The Springfest organizers then turned to the challenge at hand — finding a new headliner. A clause in the contract specified that TU would not pay Rexha until after the show, meaning that the portion of Springfest funding intended for Rexha could be put toward another artist.
However, “Despite the availability of funds, it was still very difficult to find an artist within our price range [and] time available on such short notice,” Aaronson explained.
Aaronson said that the committee explored a variety of genres and “especially looked at artists who would leave us enough leftover budget to have events during the week and expand the art show a bit.” Lil Xan and Knox Hamilton, Aaronson said, fit the bill.
“While many were concerned we blew all of the Springfest budget on two concert artists, that is simply not true,” she said.
“The production costs, Reynolds Center costs, food for the crew, insurance, all the workers we are legally obligated to hire, housing for the artists, security, setup and cleanup — there is a huge chunk of the budget that we have to consider not available right off the bat. Since we also were originally planning the art show and another event during the week, we had very little left over.”
Aaronson offered some statistics for perspective. She said that artists like Lorde are quoted at $1 million. Any big-name musician (such as Chance the Rapper, Bastille, the Lumineers, Kesha, Passion Pit, MGMT and Post Malone) start at around $100,000 and can reach hundreds of thousands.
Lesser known artists like Ben Rector and Galantis can cost between $50,000 and $100,000.
Aaronson said that rap or pop artists typically add more in insurance costs, which is why Springfest hasn’t had a rap or pop artist in a few years. “That’s why we are so excited to bring Lil Xan to Tulsa,” she said.
The committee made other minor changes to Springfest as well. They are currently in the selection process that will determine which vendors and artists are present at the pre-concert art crawl. There will be 10 – 15 vendors total, including My Mod Mess and The Soboco, as well as local food trucks.
Aaronson said that there are more updates to come, as the Springfest committee has paired with other SA organizing committees and is still working out the details of additional programming.