Everybody loves to look back on an event that impressed them so much it had them recalling the details for years after. For many people, big music concerts have that effect. And the good news for locals is that more big-name entertainers are making tour stops in New Orleans these days than ever before.
The dozens of stars already scheduled for local concerts this year includes the likes of Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, Luke Bryan, The Eagles, Maroon 5 and Shania Twain.
And that lineup follows on a blockbuster 2017 concert schedule highlighted by U2, Bruno Mars, Jay-Z, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, Neil Diamond, Billie Joel, Lionel Richie and Mariah Carey, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
It almost seems an embarrassment of riches compared to the paucity of live concerts that locals had to content themselves with during recent decades. So what gives? The answer lies in a combination of local business factors and worldwide live entertainment trends.
Performers of global stature have long been interested in New Orleans because of its deep-rooted musical traditions and multi-generational talent pool. Many such entertainers have headlined stages at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, among other events, so the Big Easy is no stranger to them.
But live concerts by music mega-stars require massive promotion, and for many years New Orleans was hampered in that respect. Major concert promoters generally worked from offices in larger cities, and they focused their efforts in those locations, say Dallas or Atlanta, rather than reaching into smaller markets.
The local dynamic shifted a few years ago when a major concert promoter opened a New Orleans office. Live Nation Entertainment, the world’s largest live entertainment company, sank roots here in 2015, not long after acquiring a majority interest in Voodoo Fest, an annual festival held in City Park.
Live Nation, which holds stakes in dozens of well-known music festivals, produces thousands of individual concerts around the world every year. And once the company added New Orleans to its roster of business offices, the power of a global promoter and ticket-seller suddenly came to bear on the local market.
In the coming year, Live Nation, which formerly promoted only a handful of concerts in New Orleans, will bring several dozen events to the Smoothie King Center, Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Saenger Theatre and UNO Lakefront Arena.
Another factor putting momentum behind local concerts is the same one that led Live Nation to open its local office: Consumer interest in live music concerts is growing, and one way to feed that appetite is to promote concerts in many more locales.
Live Nation, which a few years ago acquired the big ticket broker Ticketmaster, has become laser-focused on providing high-quality concert experiences in hundreds of cities and using the concerts to promote its artists and increase ticket sales for all the events it controls.
A recent report by data provider Statista noted that even as sales of “physical” music, such as CDs, have declined, “the concert industry remains healthy.” Revenue from concert ticket sales has soared during the past 25 years, hitting a total of $8 billion last year. The most successful music tour of the year was U2’s Joshua Tree Tour, which generated gross revenue of $175 million and drew more than 1.5 million people to stadiums around the world.
Meanwhile, Live Nation’s multifaceted promotional strategy, which includes an expanding repertoire of concert locations, festivals and mobile ticketing and streaming apps, continues to pay dividends. The publicly traded company reported that ticketing revenue rose 15 percent last year. Live Nation said it sold 97 million tickets worldwide in just the first six months of 2017.