Your job as a social chair is to throw great parties. You will stand and fall on your ability to achieve this goal. You need to manage, and therefore exceed, expectations, so that everyone who comes to a party you have organized leaves thrilled (with the exception of anyone who gets so blackout drunk they can’t remember what they saw; that’s on them).
You have been elected to the position of social chair because your peers believe that you have the talent and application to make a success of the role. Now you need to convince between fifty and 150 people in your chapter that you’ll bring them the best bang for their buck.
What does that mean?
It means great entertainment. It means having parties that bring status to your fraternity. It means getting girls there.
You want your parties to be memorable, for everyone to have a good time, and for those who aren’t fortunate enough to attend to envy those who are.
A great show provokes FOMO (fear of missing out) and brings bragging rights to your fraternity. It’ll blow up on social media and be something you’re talking about for years to come. To produce a show of that quality, you must be a master of managing expectations.
The vast majority of people know nothing about putting together an outstanding party. If they did, they’d be doing your job. All they want is to show up to something awesome.
Often, their expectations of what’s possible are totally unrealistic. You’re the one who needs to inject a sense of realism into proceedings, manage their options, and bring them incredible shows, all working within your available budget. Doing that successfully requires a lot of finesse and a lot of discipline.
This can be a thankless task. Executing a great show means that you need to be on the ball on the day of the event. You can’t just kick back with your buddies and trust that it will all run smoothly. It won’t. There will be last-minute hitches and complications. There always are.
If you’ve taken on the role of social chair to impress girls and build the profile of yourself and your chapter, you’ll find that the true benefits often come further down the line, when you have time to look back on what you’ve accomplished. At the time, you’re going to be so swamped by the workload that you won’t have time to enjoy the spoils of victory.
Understand that unless you choose to sub out, which means taking an active role in the planning process but delegating responsibility for the day of show operations, this is what you’ve signed up for. If you do choose to sub out, there are a number of ways to do that, which we’ll discuss later in this book.
Whatever approach you take, you’ll need to master the art of delegation at some stage. When there are three differ- ent tasks that need doing at the same time, you must be realistic about what you can achieve and be prepared to hand off some of the responsibility.
As a social chair, you have three choices:
1. Execute your event yourself and gain the satisfaction that comes from a job well done, but miss out on enjoying it.
2. Execute your event yourself, enjoy it with your buddies, and watch as something crucial goes wrong.
3. Hire someone to work your event for you.
Before you start, be honest with yourself about what you’re hoping to achieve. If you love to plan and execute events, and you get a buzz from watching everything happen smoothly and knowing it was your doing, you’re exactly the right person to run operations on the day of show.
If you prefer to relax with your girlfriend and watch the band that you’ve worked so hard to book perform, recognize that you need to hire someone to take the strain.
Let’s be honest. If you make a mess of this role, you’ll be ostracized socially and lose the respect of your peers. You’ll also attract the mockery of people younger than you, who will see that what you’re capable of is not impressive and will have no reason to show you respect.
Failing to plan and execute great shows also reflects poorly on your entire chapter, which you were elected to represent. You joined a fraternity because you want to be part of something greater than yourself, and it’s vital that you honor the responsibilities you’re charged with. Otherwise, you’re not only letting yourself down. You’re letting your brothers down, too.
Your fraternity brothers elected you to this post because they believe you can handle it, and they know that they can’t. If you don’t fulfill your responsibilities, you’ll tarnish your own reputation and the reputation of your entire fraternity. That’s not a position you want to put yourself in.
Whatever people are hoping to achieve through the social calendar—whether that be to have an amazing time, to meet girls, or to host events that will be talked about for years to come—is in your hands. Fail to get it done, and you’ll be robbing yourself and your brothers of those experiences. No pressure.
Excelling as a social chair is tough. If you want to succeed (and if you’re reading this book, you surely do), then you’ll need the help of someone who has done this hundreds of times before: someone who knows how to take an ordinary event and turn it into an epic experience.
That someone is me.
I worked for years as a booking agent, representing regional acts with an emphasis on artist development. Prior to that I worked in small venues where I participated in the talent buying process. At the time, I’d barely set foot in a fraternity house.
It was only when I moved to Athens, Georgia, that I realized just how big fraternities were. I wanted to get my bands performing at fraternity parties both because of the obvious financial potential and because I quickly realized that bands who were open to performing at fraternities had a tremendous opportunity to grow their fan bases. Initially, I approached Greek life with the intention of building the profile of the acts I represented. It soon became clear to me, however, that the majority of events were very poorly organized, that agents and service providers were taking advantage of the naiveté of their clients, and that there was a much better way of conducting business.
The solution I arrived at wasn’t complicated. It was centered on accountability and on taking away the conflicts of interest that dominated the arena.
When I started, I didn’t know a great deal about running a production company. I soon understood, however, that most great technicians aren’t good business people. The guys who are highly skilled at making things look and sound good are, generally speaking, way out of their depth when communication skills are required.
Similarly, the majority of agents and brokers in the field are not blessed with the highest ethical standards. They want to make as much money as they can, and they’re willing to cut costs at every juncture to pad their pockets.
I saw a need for an organization that benefited from all aspects of putting on a successful event. At that time, the music industry was in flux due to the advent of download- able music. The fallout from the disruptive effect Napster had on the music industry continued to linger, and many, many acts who would not have previously seen performing at a fraternity house as a viable option were beginning to reconsider.
Private events are more lucrative for bands than ticketed events, and they saw the opportunity both to generate additional income and to attract new fans.
It has been a slow progression, but the center of gravity has gradually shifted. Twenty years ago, Greek events were populated primarily by jam bands and party bands. Nowadays, headlining rock ‘n’ roll bands and high-quality rap acts are open to performing for fraternities. Especially over the past few years, there has been a tremendous shift toward seeing fraternity gigs as a legitimate part of a band’s itinerary.
Today, there are no barriers to what’s possible. Social chairs with enough time, money, and ambition can contemplate booking the biggest acts in the country.
Turnipblood Entertainment was formed in 2011 and has carved out a niche by consistently presiding over high-quality events. The company doesn’t have a vested interest in the size of the show or the profile of the band. We’re responsible for the success of the entire event, and we’re paid on that basis.
We thrive on exceeding expectations and making the seemingly impossible a reality. My most personally satisfying experiences have involved convincing artists who would usually never even consider playing in a fraternity house to do so, blowing the minds of the attendees.
Here’s an example. Big Gigantic is an EDM (electronic dance music) duo that built their audience through the Greek scene, playing fraternities and using the proceeds to tour and to write new music. They’ve become very, very successful, to the extent that they can now sell out consecutive nights at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado, an outdoor venue with a ticket cap of ten thousand people.
Naturally, booking them has been well out of the reach of the average fraternity party for the past couple of years. We convinced them to perform in a three-hundred-capacity living room inside a fraternity house.
They were between record cycles, and the gig was billed as a chance for them to return to their roots and get back to the kind of venues that gave them their initial boost. From their perspective, it was easy money and a great PR stunt. For us, it was a massive, massive coup and a night I’ll never forget. We had so much production that the house was literally moving. I’ve worked bigger shows, with bigger name acts, but I’ve never put a larger act into a smaller space.
As much as I love to pull off the impossible, I’m also motivated by turning people on to up-and-coming bands and acts that I know will be huge in a year or two. The experience I’ve gleaned working in the industry pays off hugely here. Turnipblood has a very strong network, and we specialize in pairing fraternities that don’t have a huge budget with amazing acts they’ll be bragging about hosting within a couple of years.
We’ve convinced people to take on acts that have subsequently become huge international names, giving them the opportunity to say: “You know those guys who were playing at the Georgia Theater last night? We had them perform on our porch.” That’s an exceptionally rewarding part of doing this work.
The idea for this book was born when I moved to Athens, Georgia, and got a good look under the hood at the way fraternity parties were being planned and executed.
Most fraternities engaged multiple vendors, all of whom had an agenda. That’s not to say that the vendors were behaving dishonestly, but merely that the guy who rents lights has a vested interest in renting out as many lights as possible, and the guy who books bands inevitably wants to book the most expensive bands possible. There was an inherent conflict of interest.
I realized that a turnkey approach to booking parties, with the event as the central focus, had the potential to bring enormous value to the customer. We gave social chairs a one-stop shop for every aspect of producing an event, with no stake in whether they booked a large entertainer or a small entertainer, or whether they held their party on a large outdoor stage or in the band room of their fraternity house.
Contained within these posts is all the information you need to successfully execute a private event. This book can’t run your show for you, but it can give you all the information you need.
You’ll find a step-by-step approach that covers exactly what you need to do to plan, book, and execute an outstanding southern fraternity party. This is the play-by-play. With this book in your hands, you’ll be prepared to handle any situation you encounter in the process of putting together a private event.
Use this book however you see fit. Read it from cover to cover, or dip in to find the answers to specific questions. Start at the end and read backward if you like. If you find yourself reading through part 2 and getting bogged down in the process, skip to part 3 and learn how to sub out. If you want to nail the execution yourself, read part 2 and plan like a pro. If you prefer to delegate, read part 1 and hand off part 2 to 1 of your fraternity brothers.
There’s really no wrong way to read this book. You can even keep it somewhere visible in your room, so that people think you know what you’re doing, and never open it.
Ready? Let’s plan some parties.
TREY MYERS is the president and founder of Turnipblood Entertainment, a full-service private events company specializing in Greek life.
Over the course of 7 years in the entertainment industry, Trey has worked in various capacities at leading agencies, including the Agency For ThePerforming Arts (APA), The Agency Group (now owned by United Talent Agency), and Nimbleslick Entertainment.
Trey’s other experiences include artist management, tour management, event production, and promotions.
He wrote the definitive book that this content comes from, The Perfect Southern Fraternity Party.
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