Julia Nagel/Sun Senior Photographer

Students enjoy the music on Libe Slope during Slope Day.

May 6, 2024

How Are Slope Day Artists Chosen?

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This year’s Slope Day lineup features artists with the third most star power in approximately two decades, according to American studies lecturer Corey Ryan Earle’s ’07 ranking of Billboard Hot 100 hits appearances.

Crowding on Libe Slope, students will enjoy performances by Flo Rida and A Boogie Wit a Hoodie on Wednesday, May 8.

To understand how this star-studded line-up came to be, The Sun interviewed Margot Baker ’25, executive director of the Slope Day Programming Board to get a behind-the-scenes look into the artist selection process.

Slope Day is organized by the University in coordination with the SDPB, a student-run organization. Created and funded by the Student Assembly, SDPB plans and organizes performances while the University handles the logistical aspect of Slope Day, including catering and budgeting.

Baker explained that this year’s artists were chosen based on two rounds of surveys completed by Cornell students and an assessment of SDPB’s allocated budget.  

The first survey asked students to rank their preferred music genres and to name desired headliners. Rap, pop and electronic dance music were the most voted for, so students were then asked to rank specific potential artists within those genres in the second survey.

In previous years, SDPB only sent one survey asking students to rank artists, but this year, SDPB made the survey process more comprehensive to increase students’ ability to share direct input, according to Baker.

SDPB also reviewed logistical and administrative funds — including security measures and recreational vehicle dressing rooms for performers — before allocating the rest to the talent budget. 

For Slope Day 2024, the Student Assembly approved a $400,000 budget increase for SDPB, more than doubling the group’s funds from $315,000 to $715,000. The Assembly increased the SDPB budget due to a drastic price increase for talent after COVID-19 which left SDPB struggling to pay artists in high demand.

With this increase, SDPB was able to allocate $350,000 of the budget towards talent.

After survey results were taken, the artists selection and relations director selected performers to get price estimates from to determine realistic potential Slope Day lineups. As executive director, Baker had the final say in picking which artists SDPB sent offers to.

Baker said adding the first survey helped SDPB determine which artists to reach out to for a quote. However, she hopes that more students will respond to the survey in the future so results are more representative of the Cornell population. 

Although all undergraduate students received both Slope Day surveys, not everyone filled it out. 4,818 students responded to the first survey and 7,302 responded to the second survey, which represents approximately 30 percent and 45 percent of the undergraduate student body, respectively. 

Still, this is the greatest number of responses the Slope Day Programming Board has received in several years, according to Baker.

The increased SPBP budget and student surveying followed general student discontentment with the Slope Day 2023 performers COIN, Snakehips and Coco & Clair Clair. Earle found that Slope Day 2023’s lineup had less star power than any other lineup compared to all lineups starting from 2002, measured by Billboard Hot 100 appearances.

Reflecting on students’ disappointment with Slope Day 2023 Dylan Ormsby ’25 believes this year’s artist selection will bring more excitement to the student body.

“I think it will be one of the better performances out of the recent ones since I know last year some people left early or didn’t stay as long,” Ormsby said.

As a first-time Slope Day attendee, Suraya Chalabi ’27 was ecstatic to hear about this year’s performers.

“I remember voting for A Boogie Wit da Hoodie on the survey and for him to be actually performing it feels surreal,” Chalabi said.

Shannon Lee ’27 is a Sun contributor and can be reached at [email protected].