News November 9, 2017

CMC marks big week as festival sells out and US executives announce visit

Image: The Dixie Chicks

Country music in Australia has had a big week. On Tuesday, the 2017 CMC Rocks QLD festival, taking place from March 24-26, was declared to have officially sold out; then yesterday afternoon, promoter Chugg Entertainment announced that the Country Music Association will send a delegation from the US to visit Australia that same week. 

Led by the Association’s CEO Sarah Trahern, the group of several key US executives ­– including CMA Chief Marketing Officer Damon Whiteside; Director, International Media Relations Bobbi Boyce; and Spotify’s global head of country music, John Marks (also a CMA Board member) – will begin their trip in the Gold Coast to attend the CMC Music Awards, then spend the weekend at the CMC Rocks festival in Ipswich.

The move by the CMA is being touted as a sign of increased interest and faith in the booming local market for country music ­– one of the most prolific, iconic and lucrative genres in the US. 

And it seems that faith is well-placed. Festival co-promoter Rob Potts – who has worked with Michael Chugg for years to drive growth in the sector, serves on the CMA Board, and chairs the CMA Australian Advisory Group – says it’s “a terrific time for country music globally”. 

He is pleased with one statistic in particular: on the night of Saturday March 25, with CMC Rocks in full swing and the Dixie Chicks playing the Brisbane Entertainment Centre, there’ll be more than 25,000 ticket-buying country music fans out in force seeing major touring country artists in the greater Brisbane area.

“The festival has been a key driver, along with the wave of headline arena country acts that Chuggi and I have toured over the last 15 years, in growing significantly what many in the music industry still think is a marginal music genre in this country,” Potts told TMN on Wednesday afternoon.

“It is awesome to see young people coming out in tens of thousands to attend the festival and the big country tours.”

Potts adds that while the big international names are obviously helping to sell tickets, it’s also a community gathering, and those sales allow the festival to give emerging Australian and NZ artists more opportunities to perform in front of passionate country fans and benefit from the CMC infrastructure.

“They get to share the stage with some of the very best artists in the world and this is a huge motivation to improve and lift local standards and to see what can be achieved in the country music space.”

CMC Rocks will draw over 15,000 over three days to see a lineup featuring Dixie Chicks, Little Big Town, Lee Kernaghan and Nashville star Charles Esten. Last year’s attendance was 13,000; more camping areas, as well as increased camp-exclusive entertainment and food and beverage facilities, helped bump the numbers up by that extra 2000.

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