Red Mountain Entertainment Extends Tuscaloosa Amphitheater Contract; President Gary Weinberger Talks Booking Strategy

Tuscaloosa Amphitheater
Tuscaloosa Amphitheater
– Tuscaloosa Amphitheater

Birmingham, Ala.,-based promoter Red Mountain Entertainment has extended its contract with the city of Tuscaloosa, Ala., to book the city’s 8,410-capacity Tuscaloosa Amphitheater, amid concerns by city council members that not enough hip-hop and R&B acts are playing the venue. 

Red Mountain has booked the venue since it opened in 2011 and last extended its contract in 2016, according to Tuscaloosa News
The new agreement extends Red Mountain’s booking rights through Sept. 30, 2021, with a boosted fee of $17,000 each month. If the city decides to extend the contract to 2014, monthly fees will increase to 18,000 per month in the agreement’s final two years. 
Besides booking, Red Mountain’s services include advertising events at the venue, hosting and maintaining the venue’s website and following all other industry standards related to the agreement.
Some members of the Tuscaloosa City Council expressed concerns that Red Mountain was not booking enough urban acts before the deal was closed, however. 
“How can we see more of a satisfaction for all the citizens in Tuscaloosa from the acts that come to the amphitheater?” asked Councilwoman Raevan Howard during the during the discussion to extend the contract. 
Red Mountain responded by explaining that urban acts don’t often play in secondary and tertiary markets as opposed to rock and pop acts.
And for the most part that is true, though hip-hop acts are slowly beginning to expand into secondary markets, such as Post Malone, who sold 7,800 tickets when he played at the Great Saltair Amphitheatre in Magna, Utah, last year, according to Pollstar’s Box office reports. 
Red Mountain still booked a fair number of urban acts to play the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater in 2017, such as John Legend and R&B acts Tyrese and Jaheim. That’s three out of 13 of the acts that played the venue that year, most of which being rock and country acts such as Kings Of Leon, Willie Nelson, Kenny Chesney, Eric Church and Soundgarden
Out of all the acts booked that year country artists sold the most tickets, as Eric Church had the biggest gross of $588,564 grossed and 7,132 tickets sold. Kenny Chesney was the venue’s third highest grossing artist in 2017, selling 6,619 tickets and grossing $524,347. 
Meanwhile the demand for John Legend, the most recognizable of the urban acts to play the venue last year, wasn’t nearly as high. The singer only sold 3,251 tickets and grossed $194,295.
The town’s proximity to the nearest major market also plays a factor when artists decide where to perform. Tuscaloosa, with a population of just over 235,600, is about a three-hour drive from Atlanta
“About 33 percent of the acts that performed in 2016 and 2017 were urban artists,” Red Mountain President Gary Weinberger told Pollstar. “Having lived and promoted in secondary and tertiary markets my entire adult life, and which we have communicated to the city since we’ve been in business, you have to be patient. If an act is out on the road and they’re playing the top 40 markets, they’re not getting to a Birmingham or a Tuscaloosa.”
“But if they are expanding the tour and they are playing beyond the top 40 markets, there’s a good chance that they’re going to get a market like Tuscaloosa,” he continued, adding that the venue has still hosted plenty of popular acts, such as sets by Mary J. Blige, Dave Matthews Band and previously mentioned Kings Of Leon and Kenny Chesney.
Weinberger said that Red Mountain will continue its strategy of staying in touch with agencies to book urban acts when they are available. 
“We will continue to do what we are doing, which is communicating with agencies and managers to look for opportunities and be aggressive and make offers. The mindset is we just have to be patient and realize the reality of what an artist’s goal is,” he said. 
Before the city council discussion ended, Red Mountain did agree to try to book more urban artists on Top 10 radio playlists.
So far the venue has Tedeschi Trucks Band, Jason Aldean, Keith Urban and Odesza slated to play this summer, with more acts soon to be announced. 
“The Tuscaloosa amphitheater is a great facility and we appreciate the City of Tuscaloosa’s confidence in our company to provide them with world class entertainment and we look forward to working with them for several years to come,” Weinberger said. 
Red Mountain Entertainment also books Alabama venues The Wharf Amphitheater, Iron City and Druid City Music Hall, plus Brandon Amphitheater and City Hall Live in Mississippi.