Rapper Baby Tate will be the first female artist to perform at the University Programs Council’s Springfest in more than ten years, joining rapper NLE Choppa. UPC also hinted that a third artist will be announced in the future, writing “⅔” in the caption of the announcement post.
The announcement about Baby Tate came after criticism toward UPC for rarely inviting female artists to perform at the University. Multiple students commented under the NLE Choppa announcement post saying they were upset over a perceived lack of inclusivity in artists UPC invites to perform on Grounds.
Drew Pitter, director of UPC’s Concert committee and fourth-year College student, said the process for lining up Springfest artists is more complicated than most students realize on account of how expensive it is to bring a performer to Grounds. The Concert Committee is responsible for selecting the Springfest artist.
The Springfest concert is an annual event hosted by UPC and funded through a percentage of the Student Activities Fee — the $50 fee all students are required to pay yearly through tuition. This year's concert will be held off-Grounds April 15 at Ting Pavilion.
Earlier in the year, UPC posted a series of polls on their Instagram story to gauge student interest on which artists they would want to see invited to Grounds. Of those, only a few were financially feasible. Both NLE Choppa and Baby Tate were popular and affordable options.
“We polled [NLE Choppa] twice actually, and he did really well,” Pitter said. “And he was also not as expensive as a lot of other artists. So we were like, ‘He's cheaper than most artists, and he polled… in the top four or five of the artists we put out, so we said ‘let's just book him.’”
Pitter also said booking a female artist was his top priority when beginning his position as committee director in the fall, and that he sympathizes with students frustrated at the lack of gender diversity. Most female artists that students are interested in, though, are “prohibitively expensive,” according to Pitter.
“The [female artists] that are popular increase in price extremely fast to the point where they go out of our budget, and the ones that are in our budget are too unnoticeable to be a headliner,” Pitter said.
Instead of having an opening artist and headlining artist, NLE Choppa and Baby Tate will have equal-length sets at the concert. It’s unclear how a potential third artist will change the set length.
Pitter said that decision to hold the event at Ting was made after McIntire Amphitheater was deemed unsafe for the event by University Police. UPC also wanted to try an outdoor venue for a change.
There will be four buses running between Grounds and Ting on a loop all night during the Springfest concert.
Fourth-year Commerce student Asia Kurtalic was last year’s concert committee director. She said there is a lack of understanding of the logistics behind scheduling artists, and, like Pitter, said that many popular female artists are too expensive to book.
“If we look at an NLE Choppa — he is sitting at around 14 million monthly streamers, and his rate is $40,000,” Kurtalic said. “Whereas [rapper] Saweetie, for example, who's currently sitting at 9 million [monthly streamers] costs three times as much.”
Kurtalic also said that student criticism about lack of female artists is valid. Regardless of logistical difficulties, she said that ten years is a long time for UPC to have not had a female artist.
Kurtalic said UPC had a female artist booked for the fall concert, but those plans fell through at the last minute. For her, this made the necessity of booking a woman singer for the spring even more important.
“When we had booked Sean Kingston, we had originally actually booked Tate McRae, but then she ended up [joining] Shawn Mendes' tour,” Kurtalic said. “We already knew once that deal fell through, that next semester, we'll have to [book a female artist] because we were already aware of the fact that it had been so long, even prior to the criticism.”
Fourth-year College student Kandace Moore said she was glad UPC finally booked a female artist, but she thought they handled the process poorly. She said she disliked how UPC did not try to quell criticism by telling students that a female artist would be announced soon.
“I most definitely think that is a step in the right direction, I love that we actually do have a female artist now,” Moore said. “UPC most definitely could have said in advance and told us that there will be a female artist… they were blaming us for jumping to conclusions when it was most definitely not the students’ fault.”
Moore cited a comment section argument between the official UPC Instagram account and students as evidence that UPC handled the announcement process poorly.
Moore also said she wanted to see artists with deeper meaning behind their music and more community outreach. She said UPC books artists with shallower lyrics, and wished to see artists who are also role models.
Sean Kingston performed at this year’s Welcome Week Concert. UPC invited Trippie Redd to perform at last year’s Springfest.
“There are so many other great artists out there that I feel like have more meaningful lyrics or have more meaningful impacts on the communities that they're from that [UPC] could have chosen,” Moore said. “Like J. Cole and Dreamville Fest, as well as giving back to the community, giving back to students trying to help them learn, trying to give out school supplies, feeding meals to the homeless and things like that.”
Sebastian Singh, fourth-year Batten graduate student, won a meet-and-greet with NLE Choppa after correctly guessing the artist from hints on the UPC instagram. He said UPC was ultimately doing a good job of booking artists that the student body was interested in.
“I think that UPC has done a fairly good job of trying to give people artists that they want,” Singh said. “There are good queer and and female artists out there that I'm sure are not too hard to get to campus for Springfest. I hope that UPC will take that into account in the years to come.”