Student Affairs

Students spearhead the first-ever Music Fest, a two-day event capturing the uniqueness of the Clemson experience


Less than two months have passed since it was announced Clemson University would host a two-day music festival on main campus. Don’t be fooled by the short window of time, though. Planning an event that’s attracted a dozen musical artists and sold thousands of tickets is no small undertaking.

“In reality, the concept of Clemson Music Fest has been in the works for more than 18 months,” says Marty Elliott, a strategic partner who ultimately helped bring the University and City of Clemson to the table together with an event promoter for an event that aims to be a jumping point for the future and an unforgettable experience for everyone in attendance.

Clemson Music Fest begins at 4 p.m. on Friday, April 19 and continues at 3:15 the following day. In all, it’s slated to showcase more than 15 hours of live music on the Upper Intramural Field, in the shadows of the north deck of Memorial Stadium. It’s the first music festival of any kind at Clemson since Zac Brown Band headlined the Southern Ground Music Festival at the same location in 2011.

“From the beginning, we intended for this to be a collaborative experience,” Elliott says. “We identified a promoter who could meet our high expectations by providing support for something unique. No other university is doing what Clemson is doing … this is the largest music festival on any ACC campus this spring.”

Whether you’re into hip-hop or indie rock or pop, Clemson Music Fest promises to satisfy a wide range of musical tastes. The event is headlined on Friday by T-Pain and Two Friends, and on Saturday by Mt. Joy and The Fray.

Mt. Joy is booked this year at iconic venues such as Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado and makes their tour debut at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Two Friends, following the success of their Coachella date last in 2023, launched the Planet Two Friends tour that sold more than 100,000 tickets across 25 cities. T-Pain released a studio album in 2023 entitled On Top of the Covers, featuring brilliant covers of classics from the likes of Sam Cooke, Journey and Chris Stapleton. This year, he is headlining the coveted late night stage at Bonnaroo.

“T-Pain is someone I grew up listening to,” says Antonio Rodgers, a senior marketing major from Columbia, South Carolina. “He’s had hit after hit and is still very much a star today. The fact we’re able to get these types of acts to come to Clemson at an affordable price is phenomenal.”

Single-day and multi-day ticket packages are available through Clemson Music Fest, with prices as low as $59 for general admission. VIP and Super VIP experiences are also available.

Without question, the driving force behind the idea of Clemson Music Fest is the student experience. In years past, Clemson Undergraduate Student Government and TigerLive Entertainment held a spring block party. Continuing that legacy was important to this year’s leaders, and when the opportunity for an expanded festival presented itself, they were ALL IN.

“We began meeting with Student Affairs soon after the University unveiled its strategic plan, where creating the No. 1 student experience was announced as one of the pillars,” says Ashley McCollum, who served as student body president this past year. “Our voices were considered very early in the conversation, and when it started to come together, it was apparent this was the type of event we were looking for.”

McCollum and Rodgers are among a strong group of student leaders who have been involved in the marketing of CMF from the beginning. They’ve led meetings with large sorority chapters. Held a scavenger hunt on campus to engage students. Posted advertisements in residence halls. Pushed out emails. And they’ve set up information tables near library bridge. All with the hopes of building excitement and awareness around the festival.

“We’re committed to making sure this event is great and our students get what they deserve,” Rodgers says. “This week, we’ve been handing out flyers and koozies and talking to students about the festival.”

Students have driven marketing efforts for Clemson Music Fest, including (L-R) Antonio Rodgers, Trace Burgess, Daniella Lopez and Abigail Shellard.

They’ve been talking to students through social media, as well. Working in close conjunction with Whirlwind Creative, McCollum and Rodgers and students from a host of academic disciplines have taken the initiative to curate content for CMF’s Instagram account, which has grown to nearly 3,000 followers in a short time period.

“We took it upon ourselves to work on the marketing for the event,” McCollum says. “From videographers to graphic designers, we wanted students to have a big hand in it.”

One of the innovative ideas in preparation for the festival came by way of a social media competition — Battle of the Bands and Battle of the DJs. Account followers nominated local bands and DJs, who performed in downtown Clemson in front of students the first weekend of April. Those who drew the most “likes” on the Instagram posts — Take Two and DJ Zen — earned the opportunity to perform on the main stage at CMF.

“We wanted to catch people’s attention,” Rodgers says. “Looking back at how successful both nights were, it was a dream idea. Now these folks who are local to Clemson have an opportunity to perform and raise their platform.”

Amelia Lyles and Abigail Shellard helped produce graphics and designs for t-shirts, stickers and banners. Trace Burgess, Brendan Merkle and Abby Szlosek filmed, edited and produced videos for social media. Alexander Brown, Kylie Foley, Aguib Kaloga, Daniella Lopez, McCollum and Rodgers managed content, planned special marketing opportunities and helped with general event awareness.

“I thank Antonio and our team of students,” McCollum says. “It’s been a very committed group. When you challenge us, we’re going to meet that as leaders. It’s who we are.”

Students who are invested in keeping Clemson, Clemson.

“Alumni always talk about big concerts that were held during their time at Clemson,” she adds. “Now, Clemson students can start that tradition again of saying, ‘Remember when.’ This is something unique to us, and I’m looking forward to it.”  

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