Editorial: Spot Night can change, but only carefully

Spot Night is a key concert and a much beloved event that the University Program Board (UPB) historically put on weekly. Students always knew that they could find a band playing at the Spot on Thursday night. There was a sense of community.

That feeling has now been shattered by a drastic change: This semester there will only be one large Spot Night on Friday, Nov. 13, months after the orientation week Spot Night. To accompany a bigger crowd, the wall between L3 and The Spot will be lifted to create one large space, replacing The Spot’s intimate feel.

Instead of throwing other Spot Nights on a monthly basis, UPB is using the Homecoming Dance and Fall Concert as “Spot Night” stand-ins; that is, they’re finding an excuse to kill two birds with one stone. In the past, both Spot Night and other concerts have existed simultaneously.

That is not to say that the UPB’s concert committee requested its executive board to implement this change without student input. Last semester UPB conducted a poll in a newsletter and in-person at Leutner Commons. With 418 responses (only 10 percent of the undergraduate student body), UPB felt confident in shifting Spot Night’s focus.

Nearly two-thirds of respondents noted that they only attended one to three Spot Nights. About 10 percent said that they attended more than four. The rest hadn’t been to any.

Additionally, approximately 80 percent preferred a more expensive monthly concert and about the same number said they wouldn’t be dismayed if alcohol wasn’t sold there. When asked to choose from what days of the week they preferred, students preferred Friday (90 percent) and Saturday (75 percent) over Thursday (50 percent).

The change to a monthly, higher priced concert on a Friday was clearly based off of this poll. However, if you crunch the numbers, UPB responded to a decision based off of less than eight percent of students. It was supposed to be representative, but in reality, it was simply a weak voting pool.

UPB forgot that Spot Nights can be well attended and central campus events. Though, no, thousands of students did not attend the event weekly, the low-key atmosphere of Spot Night is what made it one of the greatest regular events on campus. Anyone could go, there was no registration required and it was free.

It seems that recent memory is also clouding this decision.

The quality of Spot Night lineups has fluctuated. In our opinion, two years ago (2013-2014) was not only well-attended, but well-planned. The Mowglis, X Ambassadors, Cloud Nothings, Lucius, St. Lucia, Danny Brown, Small Black, Yuna, Magic Man, Wild Belle, Echosmith and American Authors were all great bands which graced the lineup.

Spot Night was well-attended. It was cool.

Granted, last year’s lineup (2014-2015) was not as noteworthy. Advertisements were lacking, and the bands simply weren’t as universally desirable. If last year were an indication of this year’s lineup, we would agree: make Spot Night monthly.

However, if UPB did it once, they can do it again. A stellar lineup like 2013-2014’s would bring students in with the right marketing. To us, it seems like UPB isn’t running into problems with funding or student disinterest. They’re running into problems marketing and planning the right kinds of shows.

UPB has the opportunity to make this a smarter, more thorough experiment.

UPB should first test what changing the weekly concert series to Fridays would do for Spot Night attendance, and then evaluate other options, instead of messing with multiple variables at once.

Similar to an experiment, too many variables will change the outcome unpredictably. Is it the Friday night slot that will help Spot Night, or the reduced frequency throughout the semester? The greatest question we have, however, is if these changes will affect attendance at all.

When you choose great bands, students show up, even on a weekly basis, as UPB proved two years ago.

The Observer staff thinks it is in everyone’s best interests for UPB to create a plan to allocate at least $10,000 to add three ordinary Spot Night events into the concert schedule this semester. Going from what was once a weekly concert staple to a single concert is simply not enough, and a disappointment to CWRU’s once-loved music scene.