CMA fest draws 80,000

Monday, June 9, 2014 – The CMA Music Festival, which ended Sunday after four days in downtown Nashville, matched last year's attendance record of 80,000 fans per day.

The event sold out a record 15 weeks in advance. "The advance sell out speaks to the strength of the event with our fans," said CMA Chief Executive Officer Sarah Trahern. "The popularity of our artists and the entertainment value of this festival is what drove attendance and filled the streets of downtown Nashville."

Attendance figures for 2014 include 4-day ticket packages and promotional tickets, as well as attendance in Fan Fair X, and free areas downtown. In all, more than 450 artists participated in more than 150 hours of concerts on 11 different stages.

Intermittent rain on Thursday and severe thunderstorms Saturday impacted attendance in the free areas and delayed the start of the Nightly Concert Saturday.

The event included free concerts and tailgating at LP Field, scene of nightly stadium shows.

CMA Music Festival supports music education. The artists and celebrities participating in CMA Music Festival donate their time. They are not compensated for the hours they spend signing autographs and performing. As a result, The CMA Foundation donates proceeds from the event to music education on the artists' behalf through CMA's Keep the Music Playing program. Since 2006, CMA has donated more than $9 million.

Festival attendees came from all 50 states and 24 countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Russia, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, and the U.K.

"Country music is reaching a broader and more diverse audience than ever and we believe these shifts have an impact on our attendee base," said Karen Stump, CMA's Senior Director of Market Research. "Our research among festival attendees about their motivations and experiences related to our event serves as a vital tool for CMA to continuously deliver a memorable and relevant event for our fans."

Findings from this year's survey indicated:

50 percent of attendees were attending for the first time (48 percent in 2013)

Among first time attendees, 52 percent were visiting Nashville for the first time

17 percent of first time attendees reported they had become a fan of the genre recently (within the past one to five years)

76 percent of attendees traveled more than 250 miles

The average distance traveled to attend the festival is 665 miles

96 percent of attendees indicated plans or interest in attending again next year

82 percent of attendees posted to social media about their daily experience

75 percent posted to Facebook

37 percent tweeted on Twitter

46 percent posted to Instagram

62 percent stated they became a "new" fan of an artist they discovered

52 percent were under the age of 40 (slightly up from 50 percent last year)

48 percent have an annual household income of $75,000 or more

These preliminary numbers are based on CMA's onsite/in-person surveying of 437 attendees. Additional research is being conducted and will result in added insights about CMA Music Festival attendees based on input from more than 2,000 patrons.

The festival kicked into high gear with the expanded CMA Music Festival Kick-Off Concert at the Chevrolet Riverfront Stage featuring eight acts including four international artists Lindsay Ell, Tim Hicks and Small Town Pistols, from Canada; and Morgan Evans from Australia, honky-tonk traditionalists Brazilbilly; The Marshall Tucker Band, who made their festival debut in 2013, were joined on stage by surprise guest Ricky Skaggs; and Shooter Jennings who performed with Waymore's Outlaws, his father Waylon Jennings' touring and studio backing band. It was Jennings' first CMA Music Festival appearance, but he carried on a family legacy. His father Waylon performed at the first Fan Fair in 1972, and continued performing at the annual event throughout the 1990s.

The AT&T U‐verse Fan Fair X was the scene of autograph signings, concerts, lifestyle exhibits, marketplace, and live broadcasts in the Music City Center. More than 63,000 visitors passed through Fan Fair X throughout the festival. The number of artists signing autographs and performing on the stages increased from less than 400 in 2013 to more than 500, participating in more than 800 artist opportunities in 2014.

Artists participating included Lauren Alaina, Bill Anderson, Rodney Atkins, Big & Rich, Big Smo, Kix Brooks, Kristian Bush, Terri Clark, Mark Collie, Billy Ray Cyrus, The Doobie Brothers, Duck Commander, Eli Young Band, Crystal Gayle, Brantley Gilbert, Gloriana, Jana Kramer, Jim Lauderdale, Brenda Lee, Little Big Town, Lonestar, Love and Theft, Neal McCoy, Scotty McCreery, Jo Dee Messina, Justin Moore, Kip Moore, Sam Moore, Lorrie Morgan, David Nail, Joe Nichols, Charley Pride, Sawyer Brown, Ashton Shepherd, Ricky Skaggs, Jamie Lynn Spears, The Band Perry, Thompson Square, Mel Tillis, Chuck Wicks, Mark Wills and Wynonna.

Big & Rich opened four days of music at the popular Chevrolet Riverfront Stage on Thursday. More than 50 artists performed 22 hours of concerts. More than 143,000 fans watched these shows, according to the CMA.

Audiences at the Bud Light Stage at the Bridgestone Arena Plaza heard 51 artists during 18 hours of concerts. The lineup included up-and-comers, established stars and legends.

The Nightly Concerts at LP Field featured more than 50 artists. Performing Thursday were Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan, Brantley Gilbert, Tim McGraw, and Rascal Flatts. The audience also enjoyed a heritage performance from Alabama, who hadn't done a full band performance at the festival since 1995. Faith Hill joined McGraw for a performance of "Meanwhile Back at Mama's."

Jason Aldean, Eric Church, Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton and The Band Perry performed on Friday. Travis Tritt, who last performed at the festival in 2005, was the heritage act of the evening, and Danielle Bradbery performed the national anthem. Lzzy Hale, lead singer of Halestorm, joined Church for "That's Damn Rock & Roll"; Tritt joined Aldean for "Homesick"; and Carrie Underwood performed "Somethin' Bad" with Lambert.

Severe storms Saturday delayed the start of the concert by an hour, but Florida Georgia Line, Little Big Town, Darius Rucker and Keith Urban all played along with Sara Evans. Chris Young had to cancel due to an injury to his left hand that required surgery. Winner of "The Sing Off," a cappella group Home Free sang the national anthem. Urban had lot of company during his set including Florida Georgia Line for "You Gonna Fly" and Karen Fairchild from Little Big Town to perform "We Were Us."

Hunter Hayes, Lady Antebellum, Brad Paisley, Thomas Rhett, and Zac Brown Band performed Sunday.Charlie Daniels Band, who joined Paisley for a performance in 2013, was the legacy act. The Oak Ridge Boys performed the national anthem. Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora joined Zac Brown Band for "Wanted Dead or Alive." Paisley closed the festival and capped the night by saying, "Be safe going home - wherever that is - we love you!"

The Festival was filmed for a three-hour television special "CMA Music Festival: Country's Night to Rock" airing Tuesday, Aug. 5 at 8 p.m.and hosted for the second time by reigning CMA Vocal Group of the Year, Little Big Town.

More news for Country Music Association