Lou-minary: Louis Messina’s Midas Touch

Louis Messina, the legendary CEO and founder of the Messina Touring Group, is nearing 50 years in the live performance industry and his list of career achievements reads more like a Hall of Fame plaque than a resume. 

louis messina

Most people would be satisfied to be remembered as the person who, say, conceived the Texxas Jams, and built Pace Concerts. Or who promoted legendary Led Zeppelin and Rolling Stones shows in Texas and New Orleans. Or as the guy who worked with Sharon Osbourne to build out OzzFest. Or to be the promoter behind Fleetwood Mac’s 1997 reunion tour. Or who helped George Strait put together his eponymous Country Music Festivals.

Messina is not most people. 

In the latest phase of his career, he’s become the go-to guru who takes acts from arenas to stadiums. 

Kenny Chesney’s mind boggling nine-figure-grossing summer-long stadium tours that have created an entire subculture of the country singer’s fans? The tours that have sold out Foxborough, Mass.’s Gillette Stadium 21 times? A country singer. In Massachusetts. Twenty-one times. That’s Messina.

Taylor Swift? Messina. Shawn Mendes? Messina. Ed Sheeran, the all-time record-setting touring artist? Messina. Now, he’s cooking something big up for The Lumineers and why doubt him?

“I think I figured Louis out,” Activist Artist Management founding partner Bernie Cahill says. “He’s brilliant and he’s got great taste,”

We should all be so lucky,

No, but seriously. What is it that gives Messina this magic?

He’s got an enviable roster of artists, there’s no doubt about that, but there’s an instinct and a work ethic that goes beyond that.

“I think part of his magic is he’s this inspirational leader who’s very authentic when he talks to you and you meet him and you engage with him, whether you’re an artist or manager like me, you know he’s shooting straight,” Cahill says. “And his passion and love for music and touring and these artists that he works with, he wears it on his sleeve. And he’s very special in that regard, he’s not sitting there trying to figure out market share. He’s literally only interested in artists that really move him emotionally.”

That’s clear when Messina talks about The Lumineers. Just mention the band to Messina and hold tight, because he’s going to praise them with such genuineness and enthusiasm, it’s clear the passion isn’t manufactured.

“Every one of them are superstars in their own right. There’s a show going on within a show. I never get tired of watching. I had my whole staff at the show in Austin,” Messina says. “They rocked that place. I was so proud my staff was there and the audience was so energetic. I floated out of the building that night.”

Cahill says a big part of the Messina magic is that team that Messina gushes over as much as he does the artists they promote.

“When I say he’s an inspirational leader, what that means is his team that we work with so closely is so incredible. … They are the best in the business,” Cahill says. “I mean for us as managers to have a partner like that on a tour is an incredible advantage. And they’re so sophisticated, they’re so smart. We pride ourselves on out working everybody, I don’t think we’re out-working the Messina Group. And that’s part of Louis’s magic. He has attracted an incredible group of talented executives, all high integrity, all super-creative problem solvers and visionaries, and the results speak for themselves.”

So when Messina mentions The Lumineers in the same breath as Taylor Swift, Kenny Chesney and George Strait, it’s best to listen.

“If there’s anyone who knows, it’s Louis Messina,” says Matt Maher at Activist, which manages the band. “He’s the foremost expert. It is something deep in his soul that is joyful, so we agree with Louis.”

And what does Louis think of The Lumineers?

“I’m not a fool about what I do. And I’m not saying this just to hype them. It’s how I feel about them. Both as a fan and a professional. … If you’re good, and you hit that magic button, then it’s all over,” Messina says. “Especially if [the fans] come and you deliver. [An artist] may get there once, but to stay there, that’s the key. … Go talk to the artists I work for. I don’t write the songs, I’m never on stage, all I do is help them open some doors and unlock some doors. When an artist is willing, this is the end result.”

Louis Team
(from left) Katie Mullen – Sr. Accountant; Chelsea Masler – Marketing Director; Kara Kotko – Ticketing Manager; Olivia Liguori – Promoter Rep; Nicholas Ayoub – Digital Director; Louis Messina – Founder, CEO; Messina Touring Group; Tori Tanner – Promoter Rep; Lauren Caire – Accounting Director; Margot Messina – Promoter Rep; Haley McCollister – President, MTG; Nashville Sara Winter – Senior Vice President. Pictured at Wrigley Field on Sept. 3, 2022. Photo by Olivia Bastone

When Stars Align: The Lumineers Step Up To Stadiums