Getting Kevin Lyman

Getting Kevin Lyman


Kevin Lyman is the founder of the popular Vans Warped Tour, the longest running touring music festival in North America. Its teen target audience is very familiar with both the tour itself and its creator. That’s why when Brianna Cupples saw a chance to book the man behind the famous tour at her school of Manhattanville College, she made it her mission that he come.

“This is somebody kids know. Kids know his name. Kids know the work he’s done,” said Cupples. “It’s different to have someone like him come in and leave an impression on students compared to someone that they never heard of before.”

But getting him here turned out to be a more difficult process than Cupples had thought. For starters, her school was a small private school of about 1,500 students, and budgets for events were thus limited. She contacted Lyman’s manager and booking agent through email to find out the price to get him here. She needed to raise a total of $2,500, and for almost the next 2 years she would try to obtain that amount.

With the help of the Music Industry Club, which she is a part of, they were able to start with $200. Violet Foulk, who is also a part of the club, helped Cupples to find out whom she needed to talk to in order to make the event happen.


Photo by Karina Cordova

“This is the first big event I’ve ever done on campus so it was me trying to figure out who do I go to, to set it up, who do I go to, to make sure everything is put together,” said Cupples.

Cupples went through many of the school departments to try to raise money for the event, which includes the Center for Career Development, the music department, the mentor center, and the President of Manhattanville College, John Strauss.

“A lot of people were like… listen it’s probably not going to happen,” said Cupples. “Even after going through the departments.”

In order to put the power in the hands of the people, Cupples started a Go Fund Me, where people could donate online to her cause. This alone raised $675. Through everything, she was hopeful that the music department would help her.

Originally, Cupples was told she would probably only receive $100 or $200 from the music department. She stressed that amount of money was more than enough that she would have hoped to receive initially.

During one meeting with the music department, they asked her if she had done many different things to get the event going.
“Yes, I have everything set up. I just can’t do any of the next steps until I actually have the money,” said Cupples.

Her hopes of getting Lyman to the school relied a lot on the music department’s next response. Luckily, they were impressed with her work towards getting him here thus far, so much so that they decided to give her $1,000.

“I kept getting told afterwards, I don’t know how you were able to get that much money because I’ve never seen them give any big number like that ever,” said Cupples.

After a long process of getting the funds to make things happen, the event was finally confirmed.


Photo by Karina Cordova

When the day of the event came however, the anxiousness for Cupples wasn’t over just yet. It became her responsibility to drive to the airport and pick Lyman up.

“I got my car cleaned. I put in new air fresheners. I was like I need to make a good impression on this guy,” said Cupples.

After getting to the airport, she was in the middle of texting him when she suddenly received a call.

“It’s like Kevin Lyman incoming call and I’m like ‘Oh my god I’m not ready for this,” said Cupples. “I don’t know what I’m doing.”
“He was just asking me about my normal life and what kind of music I listen to and just talking about the weather,” said Cupples about Lyman’s laidback persona.

When Kevin Lyman finally came to Manhattanville College, the flyers for the event were all over the school. Cupples had even personally visited music classes to advertise for the event. All the promotion had paid off, as the Pius X room in the music building, which holds about 150-200 people, was full of students and even some faculty that day.

Lyman’s presentation was full of advice to inspiring artists and entrepreneurs. He spoke on the importance of knowing your target audience, and to give back to the world by teaming up with non-profit organizations.

His first piece of advice is that an entrepreneur should start as a freelancer.

“Do what you love, the money will follow,” said Lyman.

Lyman demonstrated this theory early on, as he left a good job and created the Vans Warped Tour.

Cupples mentioned another piece of advice that Lyman had for the students of Manhattanville College.

“Take what you do seriously, but don’t take yourself seriously,” said Lyman.

He also told us that turmoil means change. The bad will hopefully become good. But it is all in the way that one looks at it. Perspective is everything.

“It was a long journey, but a well-worthwhile one–the feedback from students, staff and faculty on the event was spectacular,” said Head of the Music Department Professor Rachlin.

“[The event helped with] educating students about entrepreneurship and the music industry, and it actually inspired a lot of students to seek out internship opportunities,” said Faulk.
When his time had ran out, Kevin had to leave in a taxi to catch a flight to a music business conference in Israel. But he still managed to take pictures and talk to many people in attendance.

“He kept saying ‘I wish I could stay longer,’” Cupples remembers.

Cupples hopes this event will inspire others and “open the door even for a lot of students in general like ‘yeah we’re a small college, but we can get big people to come here’ or just we can do big things in general.”

“Plans are already in the works to bring more guest speakers to Manhattanville for students to learn about the music industry,” said Foulk.

“[This] could be a calling card for her in the future,” said Professor Rachlin of Cupples. “It shows she could have a great future in the concert and booking segment of the music business.”


Photo by Karina Cordova