Surviving the squeaky-clean NACA convention

I caught a little bit of the dust-up on Twitter today about this article in the Atlantic that targets the—shall we say—sanitized nature of the National Association of Campus Activities conventions.

On one hand, we’ve got reporting that bears out the anecdotal evidence I often hear from artists that you can’t afford to offend anyone on a college campus anymore. However, I’m open to a different point of view—that the NACA convention has to be squeaky clean, but that campuses themselves have a much wider spectrum upon which artists can play.

There’s no “right” or “wrong” here, other than to note that:

  • If you want to play a college campus, you’re almost certainly going to have to go through NACA to get there.
  • As much as you might want to criticize NACA for conservative content, if we heard one single report of someone going blue on a conference stage, you’d see a thousand bloggers with pitchforks in hand, asking how much state and federal education money went toward that comic/singer/juggler who cussed in front of “kids.”
  • You can still get paid an order of magnitude more for doing a “clean” set through a NACA booking (even at 2:30pm next to the Chick-Fil-A) than a standard set at a club in a college town.