My job as a Cornell Daily Sun columnist is easy when I’m pissed off about something. I like to think of myself as a mild-mannered guy. So, truthfully, that doesn’t happen that much. This week, however, is one of those weeks where thinking of content is not a problem. To the Slope Day Programming Board: What the heck were you all thinking? COIN? As The headliner for Slope Day? Have you ever even listened to COIN? I was looking forward to a concert that celebrated the end of classes, not a damn funeral dirge.
On a more serious note, COIN was a contentious choice by all accounts. The myriad of Instagram comments, Reddit threads and Sidechat posts can all speak to that. I’m actually a COIN fan myself so this is coming from a fairly unbiased perspective.
My fandom aside, I still have a bone to pick with the Slope Day Programming Board, a trifecta of complaints about their offerings to the student body in this year’s rendition. Firstly, their supposed fool proof system of selection is actually wholly flawed. Secondly, COIN isn’t nearly as popular as the programming board claims. Lastly, our Slope Day decision makers have a clear inability to take criticism.
In a comment to The Sun, a representative of the SDPB claimed that they chose the artist primarily by a student-wide survey accounting for genre and popularity. The board representative continued by saying, “65.2 percent of survey participants said their ideal genre for a headliner would be pop, and COIN ended up very high on the survey”. A series of posts to the board’s Instagram seemed to confirm this by comparing survey responses of Ice Spice, COIN, 100 Gecs and more, with COIN being the more favorable answer.
Now, these posts on the board’s Instagram have either been deleted or expired from their story so debating the released survey results is largely hearsay. Let’s focus on facts that we do have. Firstly, if pop was their justification for booking COIN, it’s a weak reason at best. Spotify, the world-wide streaming giant, lists the band as “indie-rock”. Similarly, a myriad of internet sources agree. Just google the question “what genre is the band COIN?”. Frankly, basing the preferred genre on ‘pop’ is a hard thing to do as is given the broad spectrum of artists within the pop scene. One thing that is consistent however is that a defining trait of ‘pop music’ is its popularity.
That brings me to my second criticism. COIN is just not that popular. Once again using Spotify as a source, the band has roughly 3.8 million monthly listeners. This is an extremely low number even by our more recent Slope Day standards. Snakehips, the opener for this year has 6.2 million, while Loud Luxury and Aminé have 9.8 and 8.6 million monthly Spotify fans respectively. In other-words, COIN hardly meets the criteria of pop music and just isn’t as well known as our other artists both past and present.
Additionally, the SDPB claims they were hamstrung by a budget which they reported as roughly $100,000. Now I won’t pretend to know the fees of each artist they contracted for this year’s Slope Day, but open source research does reveal what alternatives we could have had. According to an entertainment booking website, A$AP Ferg books for $85k, Arctic Monkeys for $100k, Blackbear for $75k, etc. What do all of these artists have in common? They’re within budget and leagues more popular both in record sales and streams than COIN. Naturally there are extenuating circumstances that go into booking but the point stands that there were clear alternatives to the decision that the SDPB offered had there been more research both in terms of preferences and booking.
Lastly, even after the board settled on COIN and released the line-up to an unknowing public, they have displayed an unwillingness to take criticism or be transparent about what led them to their decision. Sure they posted on instagram about the survey, but those posts have been deleted and their only public comment to the Sun is slightly misleading. They’ve even gone so far as to restrict comments on the original line-up post on their social media accounts.
So where does this leave us? Firstly, I want to perhaps offer a different perspective other than the upset voiced by so many of my student peers. The Slope Day Programming Board is a student organization run by Cornellians like you and I. They have contracted numerous skilled artists to put on a free concert for the enjoyment of all of us. For that, I am grateful and I wholeheartedly look forward to slope day. To the SDPB, however, there are some improvements to the process that may make your lives easier for future Slope Day’s. Make the process more transparent. Advertise your survey more and ask more plying questions rather than, “do you want chill or hype music.” If money is tight, find ways to fundraise other student organizations do. Lastly, if people don’t like your decision, own it. Don’t restrict criticism, find a way to take actionable feedback.
With all that being said, let’s just get over it and enjoy this year’s rendition of this time honored Cornell tradition. And, yes, that means getting excited for COIN.
Brenner Beard is a Junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at [email protected]. Agree to Disagree runs every other Friday this semester.