Big Artist On Campus: How Jesse McCartney Is Keeping His Fan Base And The Quad Happy

Jesse McCartney
Cindy Small/FilmMagic
– Jesse McCartney
Jesse McCartney keeps the energy high at Flamingo Las Vegas Aug. 18. McCartney has become a staple of the college music circuit, with his core demographic largely being females in the 18 to 24 age range.
Jesse McCartney has been acquiring fans from all walks of life throughout his now 20-year career in entertainment, and those fans still turn up when he comes to town on tour. 
Despite making music in a genre that can be notoriously inhospitable to artists who rose to prominence in their teens, the pop star’s fans continue to push him forward as he is opening 2019 with a U.S. club/theater tour that includes multiple House of Blues and Fillmore venues. 
Considering he started gaining national attention when he was 10 years old starring in “All My Children,” and turned 31 in April, the fact that he can still go on national headline tours shows just how supportive his core fan base is.
McCartney’s manager, Sherry Kondor of GoodNoize Management, has been with him for the last 15 years and said the key to her client’s longevity has been that as he moved from project to project, he acquired fans who have stuck with him.
“Jesse has an incredibly loyal fan base. He’s collected fans through so many different areas,” Kondor told Pollstar. “Once they’re on board they seem to really stick with him. We’re able to keep them going along to the next project. Also, I think having space between projects builds anticipation for them.”
Those various entry points include starring roles on “All My Children” as a child and “Summerland” afterward, his stint in the boy band Dream Street and subsequent solo music career, and his voice acting in the “Alvin and the Chipmunks,” “Tinker Bell” and “Alpha and Omega” film franchises, the “Young Justice” animated television show and the “Kingdom Hearts” videogame series.

McCartney told Pollstar that approximately 85 percent of his core fan base is women now in the 18-24 age range, meaning they grew up listening to his music and watching him on TV. 
Now that those fans are in college, Kondor and McCartney tested the idea of college shows several years ago and realized that the fans were giving their friends at other universities serious FOMO, spiking the demand for the boy wonder, to the point that Kondor said McCartney has become Paradigm’s No. 1 college act by number of shows.
“[About] two years ago, all of a sudden we got a couple of offers for colleges,” McCartney told Pollstar. “We did a lot of posting [on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook] of me at the school, onstage or behind the scenes, at a meet and greet with these college students. It was a domino effect, where other schools asked: ‘Wait, if he’s at that school, why can’t we get him at this school?’ It makes sense that’s where I would go to perform because that’s where a lot of my audience is.” 
“Jesse’s been a wonderful success story in the space that we’ve been so pleasantly surprised with,” said Paradigm’s Taylor Schultz, who heads the agency’s college department. “His team is really great to work with, and it’s just ridiculous pandemonium at his shows.” While Marty Diamond and Ash Mowry-Lewis are McCartney’s RAs, Schultz connects the dots on college shows for Paradigm’s entire roster.
“The audience just loves him,” she added. “It’s definitely a heartthrob, boy-bandish-type appeal. It just kind of happened out of nowhere a couple years ago where he’s been sitting on the roster essentially dormant in the college space and then all of a sudden offers started trickling in, then flowing in and now it’s just gangbusters business a few years later.” This year McCartney has played campuses like Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, Mich.; Florida International University in Miami; and St. Cloud State University in Minnesota.
McCartney and Kondor shouted out several middle-booking agencies that have helped them make waves on the college touring circuit, including Concert Ideas, How To Concerts, Degy Entertainment and Babco Entertainment.
McCartney’s non-college business is holding up as well, as this year his Boxoffice records include grosses of $24,311 at Paradise Rock Club in Boston and $46,987 at The Truman in Kansas City, Mo. He also brought in $47,030 at The District in Sioux Falls, S.D., May 7 last year.
In terms of managing a fan base with different interests, McCartney acknowledged that not everyone who shows up at his shows may be familiar with all of his music, making his interactions with fans at his VIP experiences, where he might be asked to sign “Alvin & The Chipmunks” merchandise or the case of a “Kingdom Hearts” game, all the more important.
McCartney said at any given show there might be 50-200 VIP tickets sold, which not only keeps fans happy but makes up a big part of his business. The tickets for his Kansas City show ranged from $23-$393 in ticket price.
For the live show, McCartney said the college markets have been good for testing out new songs and deciding what should be released as a single. He dropped his newest song, “Wasted,” Sept. 14 after audiences had clearly let him know that was the right choice.
Things like interviews with the school newspaper help his visit have more of an impact within the community, he said.
“I’ve been at this for many years. My fans have just shown up every year, or at least every time we go out on the road. I’m very pleasantly surprised that they keep turning up,” McCartney said. 
“If they had it their way I’d put music out more often. It’s been incredibly refreshing and it’s been great knowing I have a core that’s always there to support me.”