Reminiscent of the evolution and survival of life, the music business transforms and adapts to its environment. Dealing with ever thinning returns, the music industry shifts towards investments on profitable alternatives other than recordings. Pop artists, now especially from the female gender, push music into ever more theatrical boundaries, and time and money are spent on visual mediums that give listeners a fuller sensorial experience.
Music Festivals in summer 2011 mirrored this trend onstage, although to a lesser extent. Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits Fest, iHeartRadio Fest, and Blue Note Jazz Festival magnetized music lovers. And , for the first time, YouTube carried live streaming of Lollapalooza and ACL. Of course, musicians and some superstar acts saw opportunity to broaden their fan base and support their livelihood. Still, even then the two top festivals, Loolapalooza and Austin City Limits, did not gross together more than U2 collected between May 11-24, when it played in Mexico City, Denver and Salt Lake City.
Lollapalooza (Mid-August) is a yearly three-day festival showcasing popular rock, metal, punk, hip hop, indie bands, dance music, comedy and craft booths. The festival also bestows platforms for non-profit organizations and political groups. Lollapalooza takes place at Grant Park of Chicago, Illinois and helped expose artists such as Arcade Fire, Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lady Gaga, Foo Fighters, Green Day and other superstar acts. This summer, 270,000 fans attended the festival and more than 140 acts performed on eight stages. Sponsors included Google+, BMI, Bud Light, Music Unlimited, and Playstation. Lollapalooza featured greater names such as Coldplay, Muse, Girl Talk, Christina Perri, Eminem, Cee Lo, Deadmau5 and Foo Fighters and rising acts such as Julia Easterlin, Big Bang Boom, L1ght and Happiness Club. The festival grossed $17 million this year.
Austin City Limits Music Festival (Mid-September) is a yearly three-day festival that comes to light in Austin, Texas at the city’s central public park, Zilker Park. ACL Fest gathers 130+ acts from the domestic and international scene. These artists perform rock, indie, and electronic music on eight stages. Sponsors include Google+, Bud Light, BMI, and Honda. More than 210,000 fans are present at ACL and attract vendors of food, art and other local merchants. This year was highlighted by performances from Kanye West, Colplay, Stevie Wonder, My Morning Jacket, Cee Lo Green, Arcade Fire and Manu Chao. Austin City Limits Music Festival grossed $15 million.
iHeartRadio Music Festival (Mid-September) is supported by iHeartRadio, the interactive media social networking platform outlet. iHeartRadio was crafted by Clear Channel Radio in order to amass local radios, personalities and on-demand materials in one smart-phone streaming application. This company is supported by BlackBerry, iPhone & iPod Touch, Android, webOS and Windows Phone 7 technologies. As a promotional tool, iHeartRadio network fashioned a music festival in Las Vegas and gave away hundreds of trips and tickets to the event. IHR Fest was held at the MGM Garden Arena for its inauguration. Inviting the biggest performers of the music industry such as Jay-Z, The Black Eyed Peas, Kelly Clarkson, Bruno Mars, Carrie Underwood, Coldplay, Alicia Keys, Sting, Lady Gaga, Kenney Chesney, David Guetta, and so forth, the tickets sold out within 10 minutes of being on sale to the general public. Ryan Seacrest and Elvis Duran hosted the inaugural event. More than 10 million fans viewed the festival through the iHeartRadio website.
Blue Note Jazz Festival (June 1st– 30th) is an extension of the Blue Note Jazz Club, inaugurated in 1981. As a tribute for its 30th anniversary this summer, the club kicked off a festival featuring a variety of prestigious acts such as Dave Brubeck, Chris Botti, Nancy Wilson, Roberta Flack, Bobby McFerrin, Chaka Khan, Brian Wilson and many more in Central Park and other venues in New York City. These venues included the Blue Note, Beacon Theatre, Town Hall, B.B. King Blues Club & Grill, Le Poisson Rouge, and Rose Hall.
Country Music Association Music Festival (Early-June) was held at LP Field in Nashville, Tennessee for four days. It was inaugurated in 1972 and now casts more than 400 artist and celebrities. This summer, more than 250,000 people attended ticketed shows, autograph sessions and free concerts. Visitors from forty one countries and all fifty states were present at the CMA Fest. Country performers such as Alabama, Sheryl Crow, Kid Rock, Lady Antebellum, Martina McBride, Shania Twain, Reba McEntire, Keith Urban and many more performed at the LP field Stadium. Taylor Swift closed the festival with her hits “You Belong with Me”, “Love Story”, “Mean”, and “Fearless”.
The following tour highlights are noted, in the US and abroad:
U2 Grossed $32,559,712; May 11-24, Estadio Azteca, Mexico City (3 times sold out), INVESCO Field at Mile High, Denver (sold out), Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City (sold out), 408,606 tickets sold
Enrique Iglesias Grossed $5,305,202; July 23-28 Acer Arena, Sydney (sold out), Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Brisbane (sold out), Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne (2 times sold out), 37,598 tickets sold
Sade Grossed $4,711,593; Aug. 19-21, Staples Center, Los Angeles (3 times sold out), 40,810 tickets sold
Katy Perry Grossed $2,332,319; Aug. 13-21; Santa Barbara Bowl, Santa Barbara, Calif. (2 times sold out),Sprint Center, Kansas City (sold out), Bridgestone Arena, Nashville (sold out), Scottrade Center, St. Louis (sold out), Allstate Arena, Rosemont, Ill. (sold out), 60,437 tickets sold
Keith Urban Grossed $3,090,932; July 28-Aug. 16, Verizon Center, Washington, D.C., Arena at Gwinnett Center, Duluth, Ga. (2 shows), Bridgestone Arena, Nashville (sold out) U.S. Bank Arena, Cincinnati, Thompson-Boling Arena, Knoxville, Tenn., INTRUST Bank Arena, Wichita, Kan. (sold out), 60,783 tickets sold.
By Frédéric Casimir
All the information in this article is from Billboard’s Boxscore and Pollstar.