At 20, Adam Richman already has created a successful business venture called Campus Bucks, a company that spurred controversy by offering an alternative to the University of Arizona's meal plan.
And now, his new company, Tucson Music Festival, is bringing the N9NE Fest to town.
From 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. tonight, Field 9 at Tucson Electric Park will be filled with a massive 1,500-person foam pit, two water slides, two lighting towers, an advanced sound system and acts that include Girl Talk, the inimitable DJ and mash-up producer; Far East Movement, a "fly music" group; and Silver Medallion, mixing hip-hop, electro and rock.
Richman was born in New York and grew up in Boca Raton, Fla.
"I came here for the beautiful weather, the pretty girls and a great business school," he said.
Richman got his first taste of music promotion when he helped bring Mike Posner to his fraternity, Alpha Epsilon Pi, last year. At the time, Posner was little-known, but his song "Cooler Than Me" is currently perched at No. 8 on Billboard magazine's Hot 100.
"It's definitely cool to tell girls, 'I got this guy to play my frat before he was as successful as he is now,' " Richman said.
The experience inspired Richman to start his own music festival company.
"People don't really understand all the different aspects of the work," he said. "It's really exciting. The signing of music acts is really only 5 percent of it; the organizing and fundraising is the difficult part, but it's totally rewarding."
Richman created the Tucson Music Festival along with his friends and business partners, Jack Chaluh, Jake Signet, Thomas Rosen and Justin Finn.
"We wanted to put together the perfect experience for college students," Richman said. "We wanted something more than just going down to the Rialto for a show; we wanted it to be something bigger, with all sorts of stuff going on, to make for a total party atmosphere."
How does a bunch of 20-year-olds raise enough money to organize a festival of this magnitude? Richman said the funding is a combination of the money he has earned through his Campus Bucks; contributions from the parents and family friends of the festival organizers; and the pooled money of the five partners of Tucson Music Festival.
Having parents and family members in show business hasn't hurt. Richman's father is an entertainment lawyer, and his uncle is a lawyer for Artists Rights Enforcement Corp.
The constant promoting of the company has left Richman a little behind when it comes to being a student.
"I go to class when I can, which is admittedly not very often," he said. "It's hard for me to be off my phone for the 45 minutes that I have to be in class. I usually do awful on tests, but I stay afloat by doing all my homework and assignments. I'm doing what I love to do.
"We need to sell 3,000 to break even at the festival," said Richamn, who is using Facebook and Twitter to promote the event.
"We've sold about 3,500 tickets so far," Richman said on Tuesday. He hopes to sell a couple thousand more tickets at the gate.
The fact that the concert attracted a big-name artist such as Girl Talk is reassuring in itself.
"This seems like something that's a bit more festive, and I like to play shows that are halfway in between a festival and a concert," said Girl Talk, aka Gregg Gillis. "It really seemed like the people behind this festival were trying real hard to make it something special."
Gillis said he's excited about the show, and he promised to play music that fans haven't already heard.
"I'm always working on new stuff, and I like to throw them in bits and pieces," Gillis said. "My show is always expanding as far as the music goes."
Gillis said he has been listening to the new Big Boi, Rick Ross and the 8-Ball, and MJG records - and snippets of those records might be heard at the show.
If the show is a success, Richman plans to stay in Tucson beyond graduation and make the N9NE Fest an annual event, he said.
"Kids need something to do now more than ever with all the frats going downhill," Richman said.
"There are over 25,000 kids at UA that are under 21. We want to try and provide an outlet that is fun and safe, as opposed to kids going out to house parties and running the risk of getting arrested every night."
If you go
• What: N9NE Fest, with Girl Talk, Far East Movement and Silver Medallion.
• When: 7 tonight.
• Where: Tucson Electric Park Field 9, 2500 E. Ajo Way.
• Tickets: $30 at gate.
• Online: N9NEFest.com
Adam Lehrer is a University of Arizona student who is an apprentice at the Star. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org