ASUU Paid Asher Roth $7,500 to NOT Perform at Redfest

ASUU spent $7,500 on a performer you won’t see at Redfest this Friday.

The Campus Events Board advisory committee, who plans the annual fall concert, originally selected Asher Roth to perform but cancelled the contract after discovering past incidents regarding the rapper that “contradicted ASUU’s efforts to improve the campus climate,” said ASUU President Ambra Jackson in an emailed statement.

Roth, known primarily for his 2009 hit “I Love College,” tweeted six years ago about “hanging with nappy headed hoes.” He later responded to criticism about the racially charged comment in an MTV article, deleting the tweet, apologizing and calling it “immature.”

Jackson said members of ASUU were not comfortable with the comment and some of the lyrics in “I Love College.” The song repeats questionable phrases, such as “I danced my ass off and had this one girl completely naked” and “Time isn’t wasted when you’re getting wasted.” The music video for the song depicts a college party, complete with kegs and passed-out women.

The Utah Chronicle requested records from the university through the Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA) about expenditures for Redfest, which included the contract with Roth. The returned documents show ASUU had originally planned to pay the artist $15,000 to perform but lowered the amount by 50 percent on Aug. 10 to compensate as a cancellation fee.

In an email with a representative from the Concert Agency, the group that helped book Roth for the show for a 10 percent commission, ASUU programming advisor Erica Andersen called the agreement a “unique situation.”

Cheryl Paglierani, Roth’s agent, could not be reached for comment, and her office declined to release details on the situation because of confidentiality with its contract.

To replace the rapper, ASUU has booked four bands — Static Waves, the Blue Aces, House of Lewis and Larusso — as part of its rebooted “The Local Show.” The concert’s new lineup features groups who are all from Utah, offering indie-rock, pop-punk and hip-hop music. Jackson said this was the intention from the beginning: “Our plan has always been to include more local artists in our show.”

Each band is scheduled to play, by contract, for 40 minutes and is receiving $500 (except Static Waves, which will get $850, though the records do not explain why). The total cost for all four bookings is $2,350 — about 16 percent of Roth’s original payment. ASUU is also spending $12,000 on staging, $3,500 on fencing and restrooms, nearly $2,000 on staffing for the event, more than $1,500 on promotional banners and $350 on a permit, among other expenditures. Jackson said that the group will, however, come in under its budgeted $71,000 for the concert.

Jackson did not directly respond to questions about whether booking the local bands was due to a shortage of funds after Roth’s amended agreement, but she said students have “a right to feel upset about the money that was spent to cancel this act.”

“In the grand scheme we hope they feel respected by the decision to carry out the platforms we were voted in on,” she said, noting policies of diversity and sexual assault prevention. “Since we negotiate entertainment contracts on behalf of the university, we felt it was important to uphold the university’s reputation with booking agencies.”

Each full-time student at the U pays $23.12 in student fees — or 4.33 percent of their total fees, according to the Office of Budget and Institutional Analysis — to ASUU, which hosts these concerts and other events, such as Geek Week during finals.

Past Redfest shows, such as the one featuring hip-hop artist B.o.B. in 2014, have cost upwards of $150,000. ASUU stuck to a smaller budget for the concert this semester, Jackson said, to save money for a two-day music festival in spring to feature nationally recognized bands.

The concert Friday will start at 6 p.m. on the Union lawn.

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