Warped Tour creator inspires students

Katie Hanson

Kevin Lyman, the creator of the Vans Warped Tour, Lollapolooza and more, said he came to UW Oshkosh to talk about his life experiences in entrepreneurship. Lyman spoke to Oshkosh students in the Speaker Series’ last event of the semester at Reeve Memorial Union on Tuesday, April 14. Andrea Larson, president of the Speaker Series, said there hasn’t been a speaker like Lyman in years. “He brought a different aspect to our lineup that touched on the music industry and business,” Larson said. “It was the perfect time of year for his topic. It started to warm up outside and summer is approaching, which means music festivals will be starting.” Larson said Lyman matters to Oshkosh because of current music and business programs. “Students benefit from networking and getting in the minds of highly successful professionals that bring a real work aspect to what can be achieved and insights into the industry,” Larson said. Lyman said he started working with bands while attending college, and he had some advice for students to pull from college experiences in their future endeavors just as he did. “Get as involved as you can while you’re in school,” Lyman said. Lyman said he, along with Paul Tollett, who started Coachella, got together and started bringing bands to campus and would charge people to watch their shows. This is when he decided that he really liked music. Lyman said shortly after graduation, he started working in a club as a public address person who set up the sound equipment for the bands and kept people off the stage. “I fell in love more and more every night working live shows,” Lyman said. “However, I decided I never wanted to be that guy who bummed people out at shows by having to control the people close to the stage.” Lyman said he came up with the idea for the Warped Tour in 1995, which originally was going to be called The Bomb. “The day we were going to announce the tour, the Oklahoma bombing happened,” Lyman said. “After that, we decided to change the name.” Lyman said he uses Warped Tour to aid in band development. He looks for people and bands that he can tell have talent and invites them out on the tour. Lyman said he keeps the tickets as cheap as possible and keeps parents’ admission free, because he wants to appeal to the high school kids. When it comes to signings and interacting with the fans, Lyman said he believes it is one of the most important parts. He said it helps to make simple relationships through free signings after the performances. “Once you start monetizing something, the relationship changes,” Lyman said. “If you don’t monetize it, the relationship with how long fans follow the bands lasts longer.” Lyman said he also wants to change the world, which is why they hold a food drive at Warped Tour. Canned food is collected at the gates and is then donated to people in need. “It’s hard to try to completely change the world,” Lyman said. “We had to find a smaller way to change it, so we hold a food drive.” Lyman said that he is not sure how long he will keep organizing Warped Tour each year. “I still get goosebumps every time I open the Warped Tour doors, and the day I no longer get goosebumps is the day I will find something else to do,” Lyman said. Along with Warped Tour, Lyman runs several other events, such as Lollapolooza, Taste of Chaos Tour, It’s Not Dead Festival and The Country Throwdown Tour. Larson said the event had a good turnout and went well. “The event was very successful, we reached the right group of people that were passionate about Kevin’s topic and what he had to say,” Larson said. “This event went longer than most because students were so intrigued by his advice and experience that they could have conversed with him for hours.” Nicole Bellcorelli, adviser of the Speaker Series, said the Speaker Series is a committee of students who decides what speakers are to come to Oshkosh. “They try to bring in speakers that appeal to all students,” Bellcorrelli said. “There are three speakers brought in each semester.” Bellcorelli said Lyman should matter to the students here on campus. “He is somebody who had an idea and made it into a successful business, which is something many people would like to do,” Bellcorelli said.