With the beautiful weather and increasing liveliness throughout Boston, it's finally time for our beloved festival to make its return. A week from now City Hall Plaza will be booming with an audience ready for the likes of SIA, Odesza, Miike Snow, and many others. We were planning on doing some cheesy countdown for what artists we're most excited to see, however, you guys deserve better than that. Instead, we decided to talk to Mike Snow (not to be confused with Miike Snow), one of the co-founders of Boston Calling. We were provided with the opportunity to send a list of questions that he graciously answered, we dug into the evolution of this festival, the business involved, along with all the attractions it has to offer. We hope you guys enjoy and learn something new!
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your responsibilities for Boston Calling?
Mike Snow (MS): I'm a Melrose MA native and have been involved in events since 2004 when I started with working at WFNX and the Phoenix Media Communications Group. There I learned how to multitask, built city relationships, worked on sponsorship sales daily and eventually ran operations for the station. That last part is where I learned the most about business. From there I spent a little time at the Globe and am now here. My daily job is working with all the vendors at the festival, building a cohesive relationship between our festival director, production director and team along with the city. Brian and I work together on new projects, the budget, sponsors and design elements.
What king of resources go into running this festival?
MS: Lots and Lots! Many people and conversations have to line up in a harmony to get all the jobs done before doors open. We have a great team of experts and really work on each festival most of the year. That allows us to focus on all the details of making the festival better for the attendee and artists.
We love how this year it seems like the festival can cater to a lot of different crowds; foodies, music lovers, and people who love comedy. Has the idea of adding a comedy stage been floating around for a while?
MS: Thanks, yes it has and we needed to really take a hard look at the site layout to pull it off. It should be a great add-on and we are happy we could go local with the talent. I went to high school with Ken Reid and worked with Lamont a little at FNX.
A Comedy Segment by Lamont Price at Magners Comedy Fest 2012
Along with music and comedy, we’ve heard that there are a lot of great food vendors. What vendors can we expect at Boston Calling, and what’s been your go-to food of choice?
MS: That’s true as well. Tasty Burger, Firefly's BBQ, Arancini Bros, Ruth’s Chris and a bunch more. My food of choice while working the event is anything light, usually almonds, beef jerky, polar seltzer and a lot of coffee. If I was coming to the festival I would split a burger from Tasty and a steak sandwich from Ruth’s Chris with my wife!
Although music seems to be the biggest attraction for Boston Calling, could you see (or have you seen) a following for the festival that sees food, or another diversity, as a bigger area of attraction?
MS: Bigger? I don’t think so at this point but we are working on it. Boston has so many great restaurants and trucks so it would be hard to really compete with that.
Speaking of diversity… One thing we really like is how although the lineup is smaller compared to most other festivals, it still holds a lot of variety on the bill. Is this a goal you have from start to finish and have made some process for?
MS: We like variety and our team strives to spread genres because it is what we all listen to on a regular basis. None of us are stuck in one thing or another, mostly we just enjoy music as a whole.
Is there any particular artist or band you’ve been dying to have perform, but for whatever reason plans didn’t fall through?
MS: For me it is Nick Cave, I don’t think our team has ever tried to book him though. I don’t work on that artist curatorial team very closely actually. I don’t know if the festival group as a whole has anyone that we have been trying for that hasn’t worked out at one point of another. We have had so many great artists.
Could you tell us a little more about the Boston Calling block party concerts leading up to the event?
MS: Yeah we run an outdoor party from 5 to 8 with super local bands on the Rose Kennedy Greenway every Thursday. It is actually all summer!
How did you end up finding the bands performing at these block parties? Any cool stories about how you got in touch with some of them?
MS: Nothing really here, we have been doing them for years and have some that come back every year while some we just enjoy listening to.
For a lot of local events, especially Boston Calling, there’s often some promotion within different colleges. Why is this such a valued demographic within different industries?
MS: College are little micro communities in my opinion and a lot of companies feel like they move in bulk so if you get a bunch of people into your brand it can have success year over year with the audience. I actually think that if you build a good enough brand and you get them to the event once, you will have them hooked. It is a lot of eyeballs that aren’t mostly looking at the outside world so you have to wave a big flag to get in touch with many of the people.
Thank you so much for letting us do this interview with you. Do you have anything to say to the people who are currently considering getting tickets or attending in the fall?
MS: Thank you for taking the time to cover us, we understand how valuable it all is. Come on out, we love this city and running this event.
Stick around for our on-site coverage that will be available the morning after each day of performances. We will be reporting on performing comedy and music acts, as well as what kind of food we tried. You'll be guaranteed to get the full scoop of events throughout each day. Suddenly got inspiration to attend this event? Tickets are still available here, make sure to get yours before they're all sold out. Looking forward to seeing you guys there!