X Games

At X Games Aspen, music enhances festival atmosphere

With X Games Aspen 2015 running Jan. 22-25, there is more to focus on than abundant action sports coverage. On ESPN3, X Games Aspen will stream all four performances from musical stars Snoop Dogg, Chromeo, Skrillex and Wiz Khalifa. Senior Manager, Event Operations, Jen Rieber has been with the X Games since 2011 and in 2013 became involved with the event’s on-site musical elements with input from ESPN Music. She discusses next week’s plans with Front Row.

ESPN Senior Manager, Event Operations, Jen Rieber probably won't see any lions while working at X Games Aspen. (Photo courtesy of Jen Rieber)
Jen Rieber found a unique way to unwind after working on ESPN’s coverage of FIFA World Cup 2010. (Photo courtesy of Jen Rieber)

What does the planning process entail?
It’s a year-round process that starts with general research: Who’s touring, who’s putting an album out, who are people talking about? We build the programming plan and start to think about specific artists that would work. After we create our short list, it becomes a matter of working with agents to negotiate deals for the artists we want. Parallel to the programming schedule and talent acquisition, the venue and production are designed, vendors are selected, security plan put in place. It’s really a collaborative effort that involves every X Games department.

Nobody is going to let anyone else fail, or let the event fail, so when something does start to get off track, everyone pulls together to fix it.
– Jen Rieber on the teamwork within the X Games crew

What are some challenges you encounter with live events?
We have to be thoughtful with our planning and be flexible on site by adapting as things change. Winter poses challenges that are beyond our control. The weather dictates the pace we can build and can shut down a live show in minutes. The X Games has a tight team that has been working together for a long time. Nobody is going to let anyone else fail, or let the event fail, so when something does start to get off track, everyone pulls together to fix it.

What’s your favorite part about holding the games in Aspen?
I love the intimacy of Aspen and this event. It’s cozy, yet surrounded by some of the most spectacular mountain scenery. I also love the vibe of the event itself. You can really tell that people are happy to be working there.

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