Wednesday, October 15, 2014

[120] MTSU tackles the business of Bonnaroo in free public symposium Oct. 8

MURFREESBORO — MTSU’s College of Mass Communication is giving the university community unprecedented access Wednesday, Oct. 8, to the co-founders and organizers of one of music’s largest and most popular events: the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival.

The daylong seminar, which is open to the public, will feature Bonnaroo co-founders Ashley Capps and Rick Farman and the festival’s entire management team to discuss all aspects of the internationally acclaimed festival — from its business model, planning, marketing and media to its community spirit, volunteerism, music and programming.

“It's an extraordinary opportunity for a college of media and music to host a group of professionals so adept at both,” said Ken Paulson, dean of MTSU’s College of Mass Communication.

“Bonnaroo is one of the most successful music festivals in the world, and the entire organization has been generous with its time and talent.”

Farman, co-founder of Bonnaroo and entertainment company Superfly Presents, called MTSU “an important neighbor and a valuable state resource.”

“It's exciting to have the opportunity to share our unique story with students who can benefit from both our successes and our challenges,” he added.’

Echoed Bonnaroo co-founder Capps of AC Entertainment: "These students are the next generation of event producers, musicians, marketers and industry professionals. It's gratifying to know we can help them advance their education and, ultimately, their careers."

“Bonnaroo: The Making of a Music Festival” is set from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Parliamentary Room, Room 201, of MTSU’s Student Union. You can find a printable campus map at

The scheduled sessions are:

  • “The Business of Bonnaroo,” 10:20-11:15 a.m.
  • “The Spirit and Community of Bonnaroo,” 11:30 a.m.-12:25 p.m.
  • “The Music and Programming of Bonnaroo,” 12:40-2:05 p.m.
  • “The Marketing and Media of Bonnaroo,” 2:20-3:45 p.m.

The four-day festival launched in 2002 with little traditional advertising and sold out its 70,000 tickets in 11 days. Since then, organizers have continued to expand both its entertainment offerings and its 700-acre site near Manchester, Tennessee, to grow into an event that Rolling Stone magazine has called one of the “50 moments that changed the history of rock ‘n’ roll.”

Its performers over the years look like an audiophile’s iTunes playlist. Artists ranging from James Brown to Skrillex, Loretta Lynn to Janelle Monáe and Buffalo Springfield to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis have taken Bonnaroo’s multiple stages, drawing crowds that reached more than 90,000 by the 2014 event.

MTSU’s College of Mass Communication teamed up with Bonnaroo leaders earlier this year in an ongoing partnership that brought the festival officials to campus in April for question-and-answer sessions with students and then put MTSU students behind the scenes at Bonnaroo in June for multimedia news coverage.

This Oct. 8 public symposium also is part of that partnership, Paulson said.

“It's simply unprecedented for the full management team of a world-class music festival to take a full day to engage and educate the next generation of music and media professionals,” the dean said.

“This is going to be a remarkable exploration of the hard work and creativity behind a singular entertainment event.”

You can get a preview of the Oct. 8 event via a video of a conversation between Paulson and Bonnaroo co-founders Capps and Farman available at

Off-campus visitors attending the Bonnaroo symposium should be sure to check in with MTSU’s Office of Parking and Transportation to obtain a visitor’s parking permit for the day, officials said.

For more information on “Bonnaroo: The Making of a Music Festival,” call 615-898-5171 or email

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