CMA Has Fair Amount Of Fans

Recession? What recession? Mid-June was a week that not only saw a reported record attendance for Bonnaroo, but also saw Six Flags, amid bankruptcy, announce its biggest summer performance lineup to date.

And then there’s the CMA Music Festival.

The annual country music autograph-signing, performance-focused fan fair that took place in Nashville June 11-14 saw a 7.2 percent increase in attendance, climbing from 52,000 last year to 56,000.

“I went in thinking things were going to be flat because we usually make our sale projections on our four-night ticket sales,” CMA Chief Executive Officer Tammy Genovese told Pollstar. Four-day tickets – usually bought by international travelers – were down 3.6 percent, the first drop after years of increases.

“The single-night tickets are usually gravy,” Genovese said. It is the locals who usually buy single-night tickets, and Nashville hasn’t until now accepted the CMA Fest as anything more than a tourist destination. But this year, they were up 19.5 percent, more than offsetting the four-day ticket decrease.

Genovese agreed that the “staycation” phenomenon – where more people take their vacations locally – was a factor in the climb. But that’s not all.

“We had a strategic move the last two years, trying to grow more of a regional fan base,” she said. “We focused a lot of the marketing dollars on the region and the press, trying to engage the local consumers. … I felt for the first time they embraced us.”

Still, visitors came from 26 different countries and all 50 states. It also didn’t hurt that one-night tickets went for $40 for reserved seats and $30 for GA at LP Field where, even on a night when a rainstorm canceled performances by Rascal Flatts, Julianne Hough and Jimmy Wayne, the audience caught Dierks Bentley, Brooks & Dunn, Brad Paisley, Rodney Atkins, Reba McEntire and Darius Rucker.

“The CMA, as the trade association for our industry, just conducted a really in-depth consumer research survey and we’ve learned that most consumers are going to purchase some kind of entertainment because it’s really what people use to get away from the day-to-day trials and tribulations,” Genovese said. “Our research says they will continue to pay for it but they want a great value and a lot of times they want a family value and we do market our event as a family event.

Also, consumers want to know how much everything is going to be, up front.

“Don’t let me get there and have to pay $40 for parking without having told me that and just let me get a good value,’” she said. “I do think people are going to buy entertainment, one way or another. You have to have it; it’s part of life. Fortunately, we want it to keep being music. And keep being country music.”