Is It A Residency, A Sitdown, A Multiple Or A Stand? Whatever, It’s A Trend (Pollstar Live! Panel Recap)

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Pictured L-R: Sarah Pittman, Rachel Helix, Geni Lincoln, Kirk Peterson and Frank Riley

Harry Styles’ “traveling residency” opened an entirely new concept of post-COVID touring. With rising costs, the possibility to camp out in a single venue can be appealing for touring artists. In the “Is It A Residency, A Sitdown, A Multiple Or A Stand? Whatever, It’s A Trend” panel moderated by Pollstar‘s own senior editor, Sarah Pittman, that took place on Feb. 23 at Pollstar Live!, the panelists discussed what residencies can mean for both artists and fans.

Rachel Helix (Talent Manager and Producer at Levity Live), Geni Lincoln (President, California Region at Live Nation), Kirk Peterson (Director of Talent at Brooklyn Bowl/Capitol Theater/Dayglo Presents/LOCKN’) and Frank Riley (agent and founder of High Road Touring) joined Pittman at the Thursday panel, where they shared their various experiences working with residencies.

“Whether it’s Phish camping out at the Garden or now Harry Styles, it becomes a happening,” Peterson said. “And not just within that city. We had production staff from Nashville go see Harry in New York and Palm Springs. People coming from all over the country for Phish for a week. It’s more cohesive and even a vessel, because everyone is there for the exact same thing.”

Lincoln argues that there’s no need to define residencies in a single way. “It’s different for all sized rooms, all sized artists,” she said. “The joy I had in the view I worked on has been the creative piece of it. Even if we looked at Harry Styles, he’s been on ‘Love On Tour’ for multiple years and part of it was playing these [extended] runs. But it wasn’t that it had to be defined. I think that’s what’s relative to everybody. Anywhere in your city, in a room that you love, there’s someone local that speaks to your fans. There’s a lot of room for creativity.”

For comedians, the idea of having a residency can be a little different. While musicians can mess around with their sets and play alternate versions of the same song, a comedian oftentimes works the same material. However, a residency can also give an artist a familiar stage to work on as they perfect their material. For Levity Live client Anjelah Johnson-Reyes (who also hosted this year’s Pollstar Awards ceremony), a move to Nashville at the beginning of COVID wound up building the foundation of her latest career moves. With the world shutdown, she started a residency of her own.

“When the pandemic first happened, she picked up and moved to Nashville so she could still be getting up and it turned into her going up once a week in Nashville for months and months,” Helix said. “As a result of that, coming out of the pandemic, she just shot two one-hour specials in a row. It was hugely beneficial in terms of her material and set her up for success in the years to follow.”

Riley also pointed out that destination festivals can become a residency of sorts, with fans traveling to a single location for a total artist takeover. The festivals oftentimes wind up becoming annual events.

“Those big events outside of America, those come in packages and in a weird way, those are residencies also,” Riley said. “They’re curated events where an artist brings a bunch of their friends who they appreciate and respect. Those are package deals.”

While the true definition of a residency continues to be debated, last week’s panel proved that despite all its different categories, it is absolutely a trend.