Elk Valley Times

Follow Us On:

CMA Music Festival keeps it all about the fans

Posted on Monday, July 10, 2017 at 10:52 am

Festival goers got an added treat with the General Jackson, full moon and lighted Korean War Memorial Bridge on the Cumberland capping off the second day of the festival.
Staff photo by Paul Henry

Paul Henry

Staff Writer

For 46 years, the County Music Association has led a coordinated effort to bring artists and fans together for a unique four-day long event in Nashville, known today as the CMA Music Festival.

The bond between country music fans and artists is strong. Music lovers flock to the city by the thousands for live performances and autograph meet and greets by their favorite artist. Performers come at their own expense in appreciation of those who support their music.

But, the 2017 CMA Fest posed unique challenges unexpected, although welcomed. Nashville’s Predators competed for the Stanley Cup with a road trip on Friday, then hosted what would be the final game of the championship on Sunday with the Festival in full swing. The Country Music Association, the Predators organization, along with the city of Nashville, are to be commended for their coordinated effort. By 6 a.m. Monday, after being closed for a week, lower Broadway was cleaned up and ready for regular business after over 100,000 fans were in the streets just hours before.

As a show of support, Craig Campbell brought the Predators’ colors to the show during his capacity performance at the Chevrolet Riverfront Stage.
Staff photo by Paul Henry

“This is definitely one for the record books,” Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer, said in a CMA post following the event. “This year’s Festival was marked with memorable moments and one-of-a-kind experiences. We’re happy how fans embraced not only our new stages, but also the city during an exciting historic Stanley Cup run for the Nashville Predators.”

And, it’s the emphasis the CMA puts on the fans that makes the event a continually growing success.

Certainly, the Festival has evolved from the days of Fan Fair, originally held at Municipal Auditorium in 1972 with 5,000 in attendance. In 1982, the event was relocated to the Tennessee State Fairgrounds to increases the festival environment. In 2001, it was moved to a variety of location now encompassing most of downtown Nashville. In 2016, the Festival averaged a daily attendance of nearly 90,000 per day.

With the variety of music on the country music tree continuing to multiply, so has its audience. With that, the genre has become the most popular with mainstream listeners over the past decade. The Country Music Association has been successful delivering to those listeners, as well as artists reflecting core country roots during the festival.

It’s moments like this that make CMA Fest so special. Following his performance at Chevrolet Riverfront Stage, Luke Combs takes to the crowd to meet fans and sign autographs.
Staff photo by Paul Henry

Today, country music plays an important role in our overall society. With the turmoil and negativity in daily lives, there is a need for a foundation that can unite people from all walks of life in a positive way – country music supplies that foundation. It is considered America’s music.

By the numbers, the 2017 CMA Music Festival received the highest fan engagement in the event’s 46-year history.

Nissan Stadium sold out nightly. Proceeds directly benefit music education programs across the country, as every artist at the Festival donates their time performing for free. The result of that generosity is that Festival proceeds support in- and after-school programs touching the lives of one million students nationwide through the work of the CMA Foundation.

Capacity crowds supported the Chevrolet Riverfront Stage and the Cracker Barrel Country Roads Stage.

The Festival included 11 stages; seven were free of charge to the public, supplying 167 hours of music from more than 350 artists and over 1,100 musicians.

In a surprise appearance, Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Randy Travis was joined by Michael Ray at Chevrolet Riverfront Stage for a moving performance of Travis’ award-winning number one hit, “Forever and Ever, Amen”.
Staff photo by Paul Henry

Fans from 50 states and 18 international countries participated in the event.

Generation X and Millennials now make up the greatest base of Festival fans. Fan engagement was up – CMA Music Festival app was accessed by over 48,000 users throughout the four days, up 25 percent from the previous year. The volume of social posts from Twitter and Instagram, powered by Sprinklr, were featured on the screens at six different stages, including Nissan Stadium, which saw an increase of 116 percent in social interactions.

CMA Music Festival continues to attract a loyal and engaged audience that is evolving both demographically and in breadth of interest across all types of Country Music. Those are the success stories from this year’s event.

A three-hour ABC Network special, “CMA FEST”, co-hosted by Thomas Rhett and Kelsea Ballerini, will air Aug. 16 at 7 p.m. (CST).

Tickets for 2018 CMA Festival, set for June 7-10 next year, are on sale to members. National on sale date is June 27. Tickets may be purchased online at https://www1.ticketmaster.com/event/1B0052A9C6324730, or by calling the CMA Box Office at 1-800-CMA-FEST (1-800-262-3378).