Behind Verizon’s ‘Big Concert For Small Business’ Super Bowl Show With Luke Bryan, Miley Cyrus, Alicia Keys & More

Michael Loccisano / Getty Images / Verizon
– Sremmurd Bowl
Rae Sremmurd’s Swae Lee (left) and Slim Jxmmi (right) perform at the Verizon Up Stage at Super Bowl LIVE on Feb. 1, 2018, in Minneapolis, three days before Super Bowl LII was held in the city.

For a few days every year, the Super Bowl’s host city becomes America’s cultural nexus. Tens of thousands of fans pour into town, both for the big game and for the myriad concerts, parties and brand activations that go along with it.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the festivities surrounding Super Bowl LV, taking place in Tampa on Feb. 7, will be less grand. Attendance at the game itself will be reduced, and many affiliated events have reduced their capacities, canceled, or gone digital.

However, these unusual circumstances aren’t stopping Verizon from going big – in its own, virtual way. The company will present “The Big Concert for Small Business” after Super Bowl LV at 11 p.m. ET, a livestreamed show hosted by Tiffany Haddish and featuring Luke Bryan, Alicia Keys, Brandi Carlile, Brittany Howard, Christina Aguilera, Eric Church, H.E.R., Jazmine Sullivan and Miley Cyrus.

Curated and produced by Roc Nation, the event will be available on Yahoo, Fios, Twitter, Twitch, YouTube, TikTok, BET, CBS Sports Network, CMT, MTV 2, MTV Live, iHeart and Sirius. Viewers will be encouraged to donate to the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), in keeping with Verizon’s ongoing partnership with the nonprofit and small businesses during the pandemic.

“Each of these artists is passionate about small businesses and giving back to their own communities,” says Verizon Chief Media Officer John Nitti. “Showcasing artists that are known for doing good through their music, charitable initiatives and so much more was key in the overall curation of the concert.”

Nitti walked Pollstar through the event’s inception and execution.

POLLSTAR: How did the concept for the concert come about?
JOHN NITTI: We launched Pay It Forward Live, the weekly entertainment series that supported small businesses, last March and we had no idea the need for help would still be so critical almost a year later. Our support of small businesses has been ongoing and this year we are doubling down on our commitment. … We’re bringing people together after Super Bowl LV to help these businesses that are the heart of the American economy. As one of the biggest cultural moments of the year, the Super Bowl is an ideal platform to shine a light on our local businesses that have been hit the hardest by the pandemic.

How does the event build on pre-existing partnerships between Verizon and the NFL?
Verizon has a longstanding relationship with the NFL. … This year, we’re using the Super Bowl to demonstrate how our network and technology are bringing people together no matter where they are, keeping them connected and elevating the fan experience. We’re doing this by introducing in-stadium 5G solutions for fans attending in Tampa, delivering immersive and interactive viewing experiences like the 5G SuperStadium experience in the NFL mobile app, creating the first-ever 5G Stadium in Fortnite Creative and culminating with “The Big Concert for Small Business.”

How did Roc Nation help assemble the lineup as curator and producer?
Roc Nation was involved from the start with our agency partners. They helped curate the talent list and brought in Jesse Collins as executive producer. 

The lineup features country, R&B, rock and pop. How important was that genre diversity?
It’s always important to highlight a diverse lineup of artists across genres to not only champion those voices, but to also appeal to a variety of audiences that represent our customer make-up. We wanted to make sure there was something for everyone with this show and something that brings everyone together for a common cause.

Why the postgame slot, rather than before the game on Sunday or on Friday or Saturday?
The majority of people are not having parties, traveling home from bars or attending large gatherings to watch the game this year. We wanted to build on the excitement of the game, utilize the game as a platform and give fans a place to come together virtually to celebrate in an afterparty environment while also supporting a good cause.

How did you decide to team with several streaming partners, rather than one exclusively?
Audiences are consuming content across a variety of platforms, both linear and digital. We wanted to give viewers access on as many end points as possible on their preferred platform or channel. 

What’s the enduring appeal for companies in staging music events around the Super Bowl?
Music has always been a big part of Super Bowl weekend. Whether in-person or virtual, it’s another way to bring people together and celebrate the massive cultural moment that the Super Bowl creates. Especially as we go forward, the definition of the live music experience will continue to change and evolve and our 5G technology will be at the core how fans engage in-person and virtually.