Student life: Program Council connects students with music industry

October 3, 2013

CU-Boulder’s Program Council is hard at work scheduling a lineup of national and local bands, film screenings, comedy shows and other special events for 2013-14. In the process, the students and volunteers are learning career-making skills in how to run a professional production company.

Program Council (PC) is a student-run organization that has brought big name acts to campus for decades, including The Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead, Pearl Jam, Dave Mathews Band, Macklemore, Pretty Lights and Krewella; up-and-coming bands Be Good, Cashmere Cat, and Gramatik; and comedians Robin Williams and Aziz Ansari.

PC’s 16-member core staff works out of fourth-floor offices in the University Memorial Center. A group of 30-40 student volunteers called the Street Team helps spread the word and creates buzz on the street about upcoming events.

Staffers and volunteers get behind-the-scenes insight into what it takes to book artists and to schedule, organize and produce concerts. Just ask seniors Kelsey Gonzalez, production director, and Colton Chorpenning, marketing director.

Gonzalez, a criminology major, started as a volunteer with the Street Team three years ago, became a member of the production crew, moved up to one of the campus venue directors and is now the production director. As far as anyone can tell, she is the first woman to hold this position.

Her job is to oversee the production of shows on campus. Each semester Program Council produces 45 or so CU-Boulder student-group events and at least three large shows. It’s a dream come true for Gonzalez, who grew up in Los Angeles and wanted a career in the music industry.

“Everybody out there wants to be in the music industry,” said Gonzalez, “but I didn’t think I had a chance until I came to CU. When I got involved here, I found out that I loved running lights.”

An internship last year at Brown Note Productions led to a paid position with the national event production company based out of Thornton. Gonzalez realized she has a good chance of fulfilling her goal of being a lighting designer for a musical artist or band and touring the world with them.

“Program Council is a great entrance into the music industry,” she said. “Many of us have gone on to work with amazing artists and agencies. Several great opportunities came about for me because of Program Council.”

A political science major, Chorpenning joined PC in the summer as marketing director to oversee the promotions, public relations and graphic design side of producing events. He brought music industry experience to PC from running his own artist and event management agency called Underline69.

“PC is run like a legit business,” said Chorpenning. “The process of picking out an upcoming band and trying to hit it right is fun, but it takes a natural interest in new music or a desire to learn more. When you’re working on the back end of a big show, you forget how cool it all is, but the payoff is great.”

For students wanting to break into the music production business, Chorpenning and Gonzalez advise getting involved with Program Council.

“This is a completely student-run organization,” said Chorpenning. “A big part of our staff has come out of the Street Team. That’s your first step through the door. Get to know us, get involved and more opportunities will start to come up for you.”

Gonzalez agrees. “What we do here is like being a miniature AEG or Live Nation,” she said, referring to the two national production management companies.  “We get to create all these amazing shows for CU students. It’s a great entrance into the music industry.”

To keep up on shows and other Program Council events follow them on Facebook.

Photo courtesy of Program Council. The 2013 Welcome Fest Concert on Farrand Field.

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