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Bethlehem students announce lineups they booked via district's Marketing Musikfest class

Brian Myszkowski
Students of Bethlehem Area School District's Marketing Musikfest class announce the bands and performers they booked for August 3, 2024 at the Plaza Tropical stage during a presentation at ArtsQuest on Friday, May 3, 2024.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. — Two groups of Bethlehem Area School District students on Friday announced their specially procured lineups for this summer’s Musikfest, completing an innovative class focused on cultivating real-world marketing skills.

As part of Marketing Musikfest, a partnership between ArtsQuest and Bethlehem Area School District that focuses on the practical application of marketing skills, students booked a few acts for perhaps the Lehigh Valley’s biggest attraction.

And inside Frank Banko Alehouse Cinemas at ArftsQuest Center, the Freedom and Liberty high school students announced their lineups for the Plaza Tropical Stage.

"How we book the bands, how we market the bands, and all the nuances of how we do that on the scale of Musikfest"
ArtsQuest Chief Programming Officer Patrick Brogan

They also fielded questions from the public about the process of locking down those bands for the show, set for noon Aug. 3.

“The program, now in its 12th year, gives real-world experience to our high school students at Freedom and Liberty by educating them on the basics of concert promotion, how we book the bands, how we market the bands, and all the nuances of how we do that on the scale of Musikfest," ArtsQuest Chief Programming Officer Patrick Brogan said at the start of Friday’s announcement.

"And then empowering them with the task and responsibility to book bands for Musikfest and get the word out, just as our team of professionals here at ArtsQuest does every day.”

The lineups

Kicking off the event, Liberty was able to book Close Drive — a “dynamic rock band known for high-energy performances and infectious melodies,” as per Liberty’s news release.

It will play at noon, followed by Ghost of the Mill — “Guitar Rock Personified… bolstered by a ground-shaking rhythm section” — at 1 p.m., with Erin Kelly — “her skilled guitar playing and powerhouse vocals define her country/rock roots” — wrapping up with a 2 p.m. set.

Freedom’s lineup includes Miauna Parson — the winner of Freedom’s Amazing Musicians and Entertainers contest who will make her live debut at the festival — at 3 p.m., followed by folk-rockers Surfing for Daisy at 4 p.m., indie-alternative outfit Just Say When at 5 p.m., and wrapping up with “psychedelic rock and jazz, with a touch of hardcore punk and grunge with influences from Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, and The Doors” group Wynton Existing at 6 p.m.

Both schools offered students the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of booking bands and all the work that goes along with it via the Marketing Musikfest class.

That included selecting the acts, negotiating contracts, employing marketing and public relations skills, and arranging social media publishing for the bands.

Brogan said the program goes a long way toward helping the students use project management skills, and to tackle negotiations, communications, detail-oriented work.

Also, how to meet deadlines and budgets, and figure out how to deal with variables outside their control, including “what to do if your first choice doesn’t work out.”

A boost to Bethlehem schools

Bethlehem Schools Superintendent Dr. Jack Silva noted the school district’s belief in “strong community relations,” and said it is “blessed to be able to have a festival like Musikfest in our district."

"And we’re proud that our students are able to support it and make it an academically important adventure for them as well,” Silva said.

“So I always attend those bands. I look forward to Plaza Tropical and August and getting Musikfest started.

“This event is always one of my favorites, because now we're talking about Musikfest, now we're talking about the summer, now we're talking about the good life here in the Bethlehem Area School District and our community."
Bethlehem Area School District Superintendent Jack Silva

“This event is always one of my favorites, because now we're talking about Musikfest, now we're talking about the summer, now we're talking about the good life here in the Bethlehem Area School District and our community.

"So most of all, thank you to our students who have made this course very possible.”

Liberty senior Matthew Kopetskie said he valued the time spent with Brogan and the rest of the ArtsQuest crew, especially when it came to navigating the details of the booking process.

“He explained how to use a mobile website like Sonicbids and actually reach out to these bands,” Kopetskie said.

“We also worked with their marketing staff, and she helped to explain to us how to post social media ads on Instagram, Facebook, and all that other type of social media.

"And then we also reached out and made the wristbands and different social media accounts on our own accord and helped promote the bands we have selected.”

The students' experiences

Students from both schools said there were some tricky elements to the process, such as finding the right tack for the festival’s vibe and negotiating the pay rate for the performances. “It took us a long time to find a perfect band that you could be like ‘Wow, like that's our band!' It took a lot of time, and I feel that was probably the hardest part,” Freedom student Brenden Henriques said.

“I feel like the hardest of all the factors that went into this was marketing it, promoting it, making the logos, going around to different people in our school, posting the flyers around the buildings, stuff like that,” Freedom student Tiera Chestnut said.

One of the biggest challenges revolved around looking beyond their tastes when it came to choosing acts for the festival, the students said.

“We weren't just looking at what we wanted to play at Musikfest," Freedom student Mia Taylor said. "We were also looking at other people and what they would probably expect to see at Musikfest.

"So we would have to think about that as well, when choosing our band.”

Nevertheless, learning about those elements of the business was a welcome opportunity, according to all the students, several of whom said they intend to parlay those new skills into independent businesses very soon.