‘Live At The Ryman’ Launches PPV Series, May Expand To Live Audiences

Live At The Ryman
– Live At The Ryman

Ryman Auditorium launches “Live At The Ryman,” a six-week live performance subscription series it hopes will grow to include in-person concerts as soon as local health regulations permit, with for KING & COUNTRY on Friday, Aug. 14. Tickets are on sale now at the Ryman’s website.

With input from the Ryman’s wellness advisor, Vanderbilt Health, Opry Entertainment hopes to turn “Live At The Ryman” into a first of its kind “hybrid,” with PPV livestreaming paving the way for the return of limited live audiences at the historic venue.

Other artists taking part in the series are Cam, Chris Janson, Scotty McCreery, Brett Young and Old Crow Medicine Show. McCreedy comes full circle with his series performance, having been the last artist to perform at Ryman Auditorium before it shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it was his last concert as well.

While the first show will be livestreamed only, the hope is that it can expand in coming weeks to incorporate a small, socially distanced audience in accordance with local health ordinances. 

Artists will perform full live sets on stage at Ryman Auditorium, which will strictly comply with operating plans developed in partnership with Vanderbilt Health and approved by Metro Public Health that include mandatory masks for all Ryman operations and production staff, as well as enhanced cleaning practices. 

“Our company has prioritized the health and safety of our employees, customers and artists since day one of the pandemic,” said Colin Reed, chairman and CEO, Ryman Hospitality Properties. “This unique live music experience represents the next step in our commitment to doing things the right way while also creating a repeatable model that will allow artists and fans to connect during this bridge period until a vaccine or treatment for COVID-19 is available.”

Each concert in the series will be produced by the same team that has produced the weekly Saturday live broadcast of the Grand Ole Opry since the early days of the pandemic when all events with a live audience were suspended.

Live At The Ryman” will use the Mandolin livestream platform for the six-week series, giving fans at home access to a front row seat.

“Both fans and artists are eager to once again feel the energy and excitement that concert venues foster, but we must prioritize health and safety as we reimagine live entertainment today,” said Scott Bailey, President of Opry Entertainment Group. “Our team has developed a turn-key way for artists to connect directly with their fans. We hope that this series will be the first of many shows to use this model in the months ahead.” 

Baily tells Pollstar the continuance of Grand Ole Opry shows on Saturday nights that “kept the circle unbroken” helped lay the groundwork for “Live At The Ryman.” 

“It started with our dialog with the Mayor’s Office and health department that helped in laying out protocols and heightened sensitivity,” Bailey says. “We started out with one-third of the staff that would normally produce the Grand Ole Opry show. It usually takes 60-65 people, and we were doing it with about 22

“We started with acoustic shows and earned the trust the city and mayor, and working with Vanderbilt to lay out a plan allowed us to step up the function and move forward with more players, singers, and everything from wiping down multiple entrances and requiring masks and social distancing. It’s a pretty detailed game plan and layout.”

Opry Entertainment’s long-range plan is to bring the blueprint  to other venues it operates, including the Ole Red restaurant and live entertainment club. “The key is to be transparent and above board,” Bailey says. “If not, you run the risk of short-term gain but lose long-term stability.”

The series will be unique not only in terms of potentially transitioning to a PPV/live audience hybrid, but in terms of creating multiple revenue streams with tiers ranging from single-event PPV at $10, but with value added tiers to $125 that include Hatch Show Prints (signed by the artists and unsigned), hats, T-shirts, Another potential perk could be a limited virtual VIP question-and-answer session with the artists.

Bailey says there’s definitely a “pent-up demand” for shows, as the Grand Ole Opry shows are being viewed by people in more than 100 countries and averaging 2 million to 3 million streams every Saturday. The development of health and safety protocols 

“It’s an idea we’d been developing since May, and we started having conversations with management teams and artists about scenarios where we could have fans involved at the Ryman,” Bailey says. “We got some hand-raisers and we’ve had additional interest for the next round, as well as the curiosity and interest and desire for artists to engage is there. We’re taking a bit of a risk. We’re offering a full production and high-quality show. 

McCreedy is one of the artists expressing a desire to get on a stage to play. The fact it would be back at the Ryman is icing on the cake. 

“You have no idea. Live shows, it’s all I’ve known for a decade now and I’m missing it,” McCreedy tells Pollstar. “When I heard Ryman was doing it, my first questions were about how we keep safe. The Ryman was my last big show. 

“I’m glad I got that show in, and i was in the Ryman. In hindsight, i’m glad they made the decision as quickly as they did. Now especially when we know how contagious it is. The Ryman seems to have found a way to have something with fans with masks on, distance and people watching on livestream. My fans are my No. 1 concern as much as I love to play. As soon as I found about Vanderbilt being involved, I trusted their decision.”

McCreedy’s trust is a big factor, given that his wife is a nurse. “My wife is the most health conscious and she’s on board,” he adds. McCreery has been doing livestreamed shows but admits the lure of performing on a stage is strong.

“I’m still singing and doing virtual shows but there’s nothing like getting the band together, and the lights, and it’s exciting. We’re going to have to get in a room and play these songs, get a big rehearsal room and be distant and wearing masks. Just seeing the guys and making music. again will be great. If anybody’s going to do it, it’s going to be the Ryman.”

Livestream ticket prices begin at $10 with optional VIP add-ons. Six-week series passes for the livestreams begin at $50. Exclusive “Live At The Ryman” merchandise, including limited edition custom Hatch print posters, T-shirts and more will be available for purchase in advance online to commemorate the landmark series. 

LIVE AT THE RYMAN Upcoming Dates: 

August 14 – for KING & COUNTRY

August 21 – Cam 

August 28 – Chris Janson 

September 4 – Scotty McCreery

September 11 – Brett Young

September 18 – Old Crow Medicine Show