Kelly Strickland, SVP, U.S. Concerts Tour Marketing, Live Nation

Kelly Strickland
– Kelly Strickland

The Engagers

Executives who are doing exciting things in fan engagement. People whose work makes for memorable events.

Kelly Strickland
SVP, U.S. Concerts Tour Marketing, Live Nation

Pollstar caught up with Kelly Strickland in the midst of one of Live Nation’s major initiatives: National Concert Week. “We’ve run the program for a few years and seen tremendous growth,” she says. “This year we have more than 2 million tickets available across 2,800 shows. It’s an exciting opportunity for fans to get their hands on those tickets as they make their summer plans.”

For Strickland, who has been with Live Nation for over 15 years and oversees all aspects of tour marketing for the world’s largest promoter, it’s just one of many initiatives she works on. Those initiatives increasingly include non-traditional treks, such as Michelle Obama’s “Becoming” book tour.

“The live entertainment experience is stretching outside of what you would expect from a band or an artist,” Strickland says. “People are just looking to connect. … It’s exciting as marketers that it continues to test us and challenge us and it’s exciting for fans that there’s more and more content on the road for people to go see.” 

As for upcoming trends impacting the live business, “data will continue to be key,” Strickland says. “We’re trying to collect and understand every piece of data around the fan, the shows they want to go to, the way they want to engage, the content they want to see. We’re just trying to enhance the connections to the fans, and make sure we’re giving them the right message and that they know the shows that they want to see are coming to their market.”

Hot Takes

The show that changed your life: 

I didn’t get this talent, but my dad was very musical, he could sing, he could play the guitar, you do not want to hear me sing. (laughs) better to keep me in the background. always music in the house, record collection was vast, he took me to one of my first concerts when I was in middle school. I remember seeing the guitar tech on the stage and I was like, “Dad, I want to be a roadie when I grow up!” Clearly that exact path didn’t pan out, I’m not on the road but the career in the music industry did. Who knew I was foreshadowing at the age of 11 or 12. I definitely say it was the inspiration from him, he had record collections,this was before CDs so he would record them on cassettes for me that I’d play in my room, anything from the Doors to Led Zeppelin, he definitely instilled that in me, that music always needs to be in the background. And then being the one to  taking me to that first show where you can actually be a fan  and see the artist, there’s nothing that compares to that. It was his motivation. It was the Wallflowers at The Riv [The Riviera Theatre] in Chicago.

There’s other ones, I had the opportunity to work with Prince when he did his 21 nights in LA, he did his shows at Madison Square Garden and a few other pockets of runs, there’s nothing like working with an artist like that. You can’t not relive those shows, he’s such a performer and so charismatic on that stage, it was just incredible. 

Best/worst advice you’ve received: 

I think one of the best piece of advice, where if you saw where my career went I’m glad to say I listened to, when I started I started as an intern and people I would work with said this is a company where you have the ability to move around and learn from different options and absorb a lot of knowledge from a lot of people, so being in Detroit, being in Chicago, being out here in LA, I took that to heart. There are a lot of people to learn from and moving around has taught me a lot, from knowing how venue operations work to being a runner at a show to what onsite marketing needs are, to what local marketing needs are, to now being out in touring. I understand the day to day of that, what the bookers go through to book a show, to tour marketing, it’s really allowed me to understand the scope of the touring and live business. 

Artist to watch:  

I think she’s already broke but Lizzo is amazing and I’m obsessed with her right now. I was actually listening to her album right now this morning.  

Biggest miss by the industry: 

I don’t know that its a miss but it’s just we need to stay ahead on where we’re at, back to the question of where the trends are going, we need to continue to be advanced of how we’re communicating with our fans, giving them a good experience at the shows and making sure they’re aware of the shows. So I think it’s just staying on top of what the entertainment trends are, what the music trends are and the fans what they’re looking for, so we don’t miss those opportunities. That’s day in and day out, we want to make sure we’re at the forefront of that and continue to stay there. So misses, I wouldn’t say but it’s kind of just making sure we’re always looking ahead so [misses] don’t happen.   

Where can you be found during a show?  

I always say I spend about half the time watching the crowd and half the time actually watching who’s on stage.  

Watching how fans react is one of the greatest things about my job. I tend to be looking backwards, with my back to the stage, like watching everybody else enjoy it.