November in NYC: Billboard Touring Conference Update

Submitted by: Christine Pileckas, Director of Marketing

“Live touring is so healthy right now, the demand for live music is huge,” Rob Beckham, VP for William Morris Endeavor Entertainment – Nashville (very big agent in the music business) expressed to us in the opening session of the Billboard Touring Conference & Awards at the Roosevelt Hotel in NYC Wednesday morning. I’ve been in NYC since Tuesday, along with our GM AJ Boleski, hearing from the most savvy assessors of the live music industry and their thoughts on where the industry is headed. The conference is attended by professionals in all walks of the music business – artist managers, agents, promoters, and venue managers. It’s a breeding ground for great deals and bookings to happen and a chance for us to continue putting Wichita on the radar with the people responsible for booking tours.

The opening session titled “Artist Development: Who’s Got Next? consisted of 3 big name promoters, including Kevin Lyman who produces the Warped Tour, and 3 big time agents. The panel weighed in on proven artist development touring strategies and what’s worked to continue to push acts up the venue chain. The session wrapped up with each panelist giving their prediction of which artists are on the rise and will breakout to the next level in 2014. Predictions included Awolnation from Omar Al-Joulani, VP Touring for Live Nation and Chris Young and Justin Moore from the marquee country guy, Rob Beckham.

Wednesday night we were all in for a treat as Billboard sent conference attendees to a sold out Florida-Georgia Line concert at the Best Buy Theatre in Times Square. This is the second time I’ve seen the country duo perform, and their absolute passion and love for what they do is vividly evident in the energy and enthusiasm they bring to the stage every time. We somehow found our way to the front of the 2,100 GA capacity theater where we got the true fan experience — beers were spilled on us, a fight broke out right next to us, and younger fans were not shy about expressing their affections towards one another. The entire night was a blast, and yet another reminder of why we work so hard to do what we do — we’re in the business of fun, and we’re here to create memories for fans that they’ll never forget.

Not only did Billboard send us to a Florida-Georgia Line concert, they brought the group in the following day to participate in and be the focal point of a case study regarding artist development. Tyler & Brian of FGL shared how they met, what sparked their decision to start making music, their journey to being discovered, and what success and life on the road has been like. Their manager, record label, and agent (also all on hand during the case study) discussed the strategy behind sustaining the band’s success and how they make key decisions such as when to put out a new record, what tour the group should be on, when to headline shows on their own, if they should tour internationally, and more.

The conference ended Thursday night with the 10th Annual Billboard Touring Awards. George Strait was in attendance to accept the “Legend of Live” award. Other awards included Jeff Dunham being named “Top Comedy Tour” and Taylor Swift’s Red Tour being named “Top Tour Package.”

If you’re headed to NYC soon, I highly recommend Smoky Burger Organic on 3rd & West 44th for an amazingly delicious organic burger and Gregory’s Coffee on 5th and W 44th for a really good cup-a-joe. Matilda on Broadway was also fantastic, and we heard rave reviews on Kinky Boots.

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