Camp Bisco XI Spotlight: MCP Presents

In this spotlight preview rather than dishing on an artist off the lineup we wanted to get inside the minds of the people behind the festival, full-service Production, Promotion and Management Company, MCP Presents. Sensible Reason had a chance to get a few questions in with MCP Presents’ Owner & CEO, Jonathan Fordin, learning how Camp Bisco has progressed over the years and what kind of work they put into this festival that we all look forward to every year.

MCP Presents has experienced a pretty impressive past couple years, selling out Camp Bisco for the first time in 2011 and producing large-scale inaugural events like Lights All Night and the upcoming CounterPoint September 27-29. Producing world-class events of this size (and managing a roster of talented artists) takes a lot of people and a lot of hard work, but according to Fordin, it’s still all about the fans.

Give me a little background on MCP Presents, how was the company formed?

MCP Presents started out of a love for music. When we were in college we were constantly traveling to see music, when we were at home we were throwing parties playing loud music, we were always in search of a better band and a bigger party. We couldn’t find exactly what we were looking for, so we started to do it ourselves. The local bands weren’t cutting it, so we started booking national acts. We started our professional career booking a ton of shows in our college town, eventually we organized a two-day festival near campus, one thing led to another and here we are today.

What was the first event MCP Presents put on? How did it go?

Our first real show took place in my living room. We had this amazing house on top of a mountain and wanted to do something special. It went off better than we could have expected. Not only did we pull it off (no one thought we would) but we had the best night of our lives. I think anyone who was there will agree that it went off very well 🙂 When we started prepping for our second show we figured we better keep do it right and booked it at a club in downtown Boone, North Carolina. From day one, we have done all we can to keep progressing.

What was the first Camp Bisco that MCP Presents was in charge of?

Camp Bisco 4. After our festival outside of Boone, we were presented with the opportunity to organize Camp Bisco. As a fan it was a dream to put together the reincarnation of Camp Bisco. It had been dormant for years and was always one of our favorite events. We jumped at the opportunity and because of our passion were awarded the bid. It’s been over eight years and we still try to maintain that level of passion daily.

How have you seen Camp Bisco grow and evolve since your first year of involvement?

The talent has most certainly continued to grow year after year. Acts like LCD Soundsystem, Snoop Dogg, Ween, NAS and Damian Marley, members of Wu Tang Clan, and many other huge names have graced our stage. I don’t think that any of us ever imagined that this would happen at Camp Bisco, but when we started booking acts of this level we saw the festival really start gaining some recognition. Beyond the talent, we have seen a progression in the level of stage production, interactive experiences, art, and overall fan experience. Even at our first show (TranceMission Festival in 2003) we brought in a hot air balloon as something extra and unexpected, in the end we do all we can to make the experience a lasting one for everyone who attends. This is our goal – to make the experience as enjoyable as possible for everyone who attends.

Can you give me a quick summary of how a year of planning Camp Bisco goes? When does it start, roughly how many people or companies become involved?

This is a 13-month process; we are already working on 2013 right now. Booking usually starts in September and we announce sometime around the New Year. We try and put tickets on-sale earlier and earlier each year. Next year we will offer a payment plan and other ticketing options. It involves hundreds of employees and dozens of companies. There are a handful of full-time permanent employees and then a lot of seasonal ones.

How is the lineup chosen?

We are music fans and book what we like. We are incredibly lucky because our lives revolve around music and we are exposed to all types of music on a daily basis. Most people aren’t able to spend the time that we can listening to, exploring, and enjoying music. We book what we think our fans like and what we think is unique. We pride ourselves on turning people onto new music, no matter how hardcore of a music fan they might be.

What is the hardest thing about putting on an event of this magnitude?

Organization and details. Things are changing constantly and you have to have a team and group behind you that can roll with the punches and make things happen. Fan experience is always our number one concern, which is probably the hardest to perfect. Erecting a stage, putting sound and lights on it is easy. Understanding what people like and how they are going to move around and what they are going to want to see at an event of this size is tough and requires constant adaption. We have spent a lot of time this year working on this aspect of the event and hope that it shows in the overall fan experience.

What was the first music festival MCP Presents attended as concert-goers, not management?

There are several that stand out in my mind (Big Cypress, Camp Bisco 3, Moe Down) but the one that really turned on the lightbulb for us was the first Bonnaroo. At one point we looked at each other and (without words) said, “This is it!” It was a life changing experience for both of us and one that we will always remember as not only fans, but as future festival promoters, as a special place and time.

The full schedule for Camp Bisco has been released! MCP Presents and staff are at the site now preparing for this weekend, check out some photos documenting the set up so far! For tickets and all other information go to campbisco.net

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