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CMA Music Festival: The Ultimate Country Music Fan Experience

NASHVILLE – With help from CMA Award winner Hunter Hayes, the Country Music Association announced today during a press conference several enhancements to CMA Music Festival, which will be held Thursday through Sunday, June 11-14, in Nashville.

“This event started in 1972 as Fan Fair, and we have succeeded for more than four decades because we constantly challenge ourselves to make improvements and enhance the experience for our fans, the industry, and the artists,” said Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer.

The central fixture of the Festival is the relationship between the artists and their fans, but the real beneficiary are the tens of thousands of students who now have access to music education programs thanks to CMA Music Festival.

Since 2006, CMA and the CMA Foundation have donated more than $11 million to support music education initiatives across the country. In 2014, Hayes participated in one of those programs in Roanoke, Va. in partnership with the CMA Foundation and VH1’s Save the Music. In June, Hayes will be one of four Artists of the Day at AT&T U-verse Fan Fair X in the Music City Center.

“I’ve been coming to CMA Fest since I was a kid and to be Artist of the Day this year is just beyond words,” said Hayes.  “At times, music wasn’t just a friend, it was my only friend – so supporting music education programs with my friends at CMA is such an honor.”

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean was on hand to talk about the city’s longstanding support of the event and express his gratitude for the CMA Foundation’s support of music education initiatives in Metro Nashville Public Schools.

“CMA Music Festival is so much more than a week-long celebration of Country Music each June. The CMA is an enormous economic engine for Nashville and an incredible asset to our identity as Music City,” said Dean. “One important area where CMA and the CMA Foundation play a huge role for Nashville is in our public schools. For the last several years the CMA Foundation has donated millions of dollars to purchase music instruments for students in Nashville. This is possible because of the incredible generosity of the artists who perform at CMA Music Fest for free. Artists like Hunter Hayes and many others do this because it’s the right thing to do for the community. As mayor, on behalf of the citizens of Nashville, thank you so much for all that you have done and all that you continue to do.”

A shining example of the donations at work was a performance by the Nashville School of the Arts Guitar Quartet under the direction of Dr. James Satterwhite, and Hume-Fogg Academic High School senior Dana Gipson,who talked about the personal impact of the CMA Foundation grants on her life and future goals.

“My music experience would not have been the same without the CMA Foundation. Playing on sub-par instruments makes learning and developing as a musician very difficult. Also from a teachers’ standpoint, it is difficult to teach students who have the drive and the willingness to learn on instruments that won’t allow them to play at their best. I would not be the player I am today without the CMA Foundation’s impact on the music programs I attend. The auditions I’ve had, the concerts I’ve performed, they would not have been executed as well with me not sounding my best. I’ve always strived to perform at the highest level and I would not be able to do it without the help of the CMA Foundation,” said Gipson, who has made all-state jazz band every year since 10th grade. She plays a baritone and alto saxophone purchased by the CMA Foundation.

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“CMA Music Festival has a rich history and enjoys a terrific reputation as the Ultimate Country Music Fan Experience, but the future is in these students and the advantages that quality music education provides in creating a richer life experience through music,” Trahern said. “We are inspired by the children we serve. We applaud their progress and celebrate their success.”

2014 was a great year for CMA Music Festival. The event drew a daily attendance of more than 80,000 fans from every state and more than two dozen foreign countries. The direct visitor spending generated by those visitors was $39.3 million, according the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. (NCVC), which estimated the number of hotel room nights at 150,000. The average length of stay was 5.6 days compared to 5.2 in 2013.

“Nashville wouldn’t be enjoying the success today without CMA and Music Fest leading the way,” said Butch Spyridon, President of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. “This event is enormous on every level – tens of millions in visitor spending, millions of viewers watching a prime time network special, millions of dollars to music education, a platform for the stars in our city and a tremendous showcase for the rising talent. I can’t say thank you loud or long enough!”

So, how do you top that?

Hey Good Lookin’

One of the most immediate and obvious changes to the Festival footprint is a new brand identity, including a redesigned logo(created by Alex Pearson of Family Tree Design) and striking new key art which will be used throughout the Festival (designed by St8mnt), incorporating a letterpress look and vintage feel.

The new look nods to the roots of the 44-year-old event while adding a modern Nashville-inspired flair that will be visible throughout the downtown event sites for an improved fan experience.

With a new look, CMA, along with Nashville-based A3 Merchandise, has developed an expanded product line of unique and trendy apparel for fans to take a piece of the Festival home. Items can be pre-ordered at CMAfest.com for direct delivery to fans’ homes so they can come dressed and ready for fun. An extended selection of items will be added soon. On-site during the Festival, merchandise locations will be nearly doubled, giving fans more selection and greater access to the souvenirs they want for friends and family.

Everyone’s Cooler Online

CMA has an extensive social outreach to stay connected with fans, share necessary information, and keep everyone updated on talent and other announcements. More than 38,000 users downloaded CMA Music Festival mobile app in 2014. This year’s app, now available in the App store for iPhone and Android, includes expanded features and allows fans to create individual concert schedules. Fans can also visit the all-new CMAfest.com for schedules, maps, parking info, FAQs, and all other information to ensure the Ultimate Country Music Fan Experience at this year’s event.

Big City Turn Me Loose and Set Me FREE!

Tickets to 2015 CMA Music Festival sold out in November – months before LP Field talent was announced on March 4. But there is so much more to enjoy than just the Nightly Concerts. CMA Music Festival boasts 11 stages, and seven are FREE featuring diverse lineups throughout downtown Nashville.

Returning for its fifth year as a CMA Music Festival partner, Gildan has ramped up its involvement. This year the company will be anchored at the foot of Lower Broadway and First Avenue, as sponsor of The Gildan Broadway Stage at the Hard Rock Café, with daily performances from rising stars. 2015 will be the first year that the Broadway Stage at Hard Rock is an official CMA Fest stage.

“We’ve always had great results at CMA Fest, both from a brand awareness standpoint and also being able to see and hear feedback from our customers and get them engaged with our products,” said Randy Brown, VP of Sales, Gildan USA. “We have spent the last four years in Fan Fair X, and this year we wanted to expand our sponsorship and do something more direct with the music side.”

While the official CMA Music Festival action moves across the river when the sun goes down, downtown Nashville and Printer’s Alley are full of opportunities for fans to enjoy honky tonkin’ and free live music into the night.

“We are excited to partner with CMA Music Festival to bring free daytime music to locals and visitors throughout downtown Nashville,” said Don Morris, General Manager of Hard Rock Café Nashville. “At Hard Rock, we believe that great music should be heard and celebrated, and we look forward to showcasing some incredible talent at the Gildan Broadway Stage outside Hard Rock Cafe, located at Broadway and First Avenue.”

The Festival experience at Walk of Fame Park will be bigger and better this year with a larger stage and new layout. The Belk Park Stage will also feature the addition of video walls, creating great views throughout the greenspace.

CMA Music Festival is a four-day ticket, but it is a week-long event with ancillary events and activities built around the Festival schedule including the CMA Music Festival Kick Off Concert on the Chevrolet Riverfront Stage on Wednesday, June 10 (11:00 AM-7:00 PM). And, it’s FREE.

With visitors from around the globe flocking to Nashville for CMA Fest, the popularity of CMA’s International showcase, known as CMA World GlobaLive!, exceeded its traditional club setting in 2014 and has expanded again in 2015. To meet the demand, CMA is moving the annual FREE concert by international Country artists to Walk of Fame Park with international food and beverage vendors. GlobaLive!will take place Monday, June 8 (4:00-11:00 PM).

CMA will be announcing the stage lineups, including the Chevrolet Riverfront Stage, Bridgestone Arena Plaza Stage, Belk Park Stage, HGTV Lodge, Gildan Broadway Stage at Hard Rock Café, Chevrolet Roadhouse Stage, and BMI Tailgate Party in the coming weeks. All lineups are subject to change.

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Partners Enhance the Experience

Corporate partners are an important feature of CMA Fest. Their participation makes it possible for CMA to donate more to music education and these popular national brand names add value and interest with fan engagement, giveaways, and activities. These partnerships are a key element in the marketing, fan experience, and support of the Festival. Last year, nearly 60 different brands participated in CMA Music Festival. This year, CMA is looking forward to even bigger and better brand participation than ever before.

“Our focus this year is to bring unique new experiences to life in the special CMA way, which will continue to set our Festival apart from any other festival brand activations,” said Damon Whiteside, CMA Senior Vice President of Marketing and Strategic Partnerships. “From digital to technology to automotive to retail to beverage partnerships and many more, we have a wide variety of compelling programs to enhance our Festival experience for our partners and fans.”

X Marks the Spot

Over the years, every star in the format has participated in CMA Music Festival, performing for free and greeting fans. The epicenter of that fan/artist interaction is AT&T U-verse Fan Fair X in the Music City Center.

“The personal connection between the artists and their fans is what sets this format apart, and defines this Festival,” Trahern said. “We have taken that relationship and amped it up at AT&T U-verse Fan Fair X with autograph signings, Q&A sessions, concerts, shopping, lifestyle vendors, and more.”

Returning for the third time in 2015 as the title sponsor of Fan Fair X is AT&T U-verse.

“AT&T U-verse is proud to return for the third year as the title sponsor of Fan Fair X,” said Brian Collins, Vice President, U-verse Consumer Marketing, AT&T Home Solutions. “As a brand, we work hard year round to enhance our customers’ experience by bringing them closer to rising stars and their favorite artists through AT&T U-verse’s Country Deep™.  It is exciting to once again return to CMA Music Festival and to continue working with CMA to create the Ultimate Country Music Fan Experience.”

AT&T has special network equipment that will be installed in and around the Music City Center, Bridgestone Arena, and LP Field to keep Country fans connected so they can have a great mobile experience while sharing their favorite moments at CMA Music Festival this year.

With 353,000 square feet of artist booths, shopping, lifestyle exhibits, and three stages at the Music City Center, fans have numerous options to keep them busy Thursday through Sunday, June 11-14 (10:00 AM-5:00 PM).

AT&T U-verse Fan Fair X will once again feature three indoor stages: the CMA Close Up Stage; the AT&T U-verse Showcase Stage featuring rising talent; and the Durango Music Spot, which features acoustic performances programmed by storied powerhouse radio station, WSM.

The crown jewel of the AT&T U-verse Fan Fair X experience is the CMA Close Up Stage featuring intimate and interactive programming with top artists, including the Artist of the Day each of the four days, with Hayes on Friday, June 12.

The CMA Close Up Stage is growing from 600 to 800 seats (with additional standing room) due to the enormous popularity of the stage in 2014, with performances, panels, presentations, and more. Programming will be livestreamed on CMAfest.com daily. Last year more than 27,000 fans caught the show online. The hub of fan/artist interaction will be at the CMA Artist Experience booth where artists will sign autographs and meet fans.

Artist meet and greets are a highlight of the Ultimate Country Music Fan Experience. The CMA Music Festival offers the chance to do just that as well as opportunities for prizes, special VIP exclusives, and once in a lifetime fan experiences through a special drawing. Launched in 2012, CMA has built on the success of the online drawing. The procedures for the Ultimate Fan Experiences drawing foster a safe atmosphere, and make the process for securing moments with the most popular artists equitable for all Festivalgoers.

Another popular feature of AT&T U-verse Fan Fair X is the CMA Foundation Auction benefiting music education with memorabilia and artist experiences available to the highest bidder. In 2014, the Auction raised more than $100,000 ($80,000 in 2013) and included more than 100 items including meet and greets, guitars, autographed merchandise and more from stars and celebrities including Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney, KISS, Brad Paisley, and The Beach Boys. Artists included in the 2015 CMA Foundation Auction already include Aldean, Garth Brooks, Bryan, Chesney, Ariana Grande, and Zac Brown Band.

Tickets to AT&T U-verse Fan Fair X are available now at CMAfest.com (AT&T U-verse Fan Fair X admission is included in four-day CMA Music Festival tickets). AT&T U-verse Fan Fair X tickets are $10 per day or $25 for a four-day pass.

For upcoming talent announcements and all other info stay connected with CMA on CMAfest.com, Facebook.com/CMA, Twitter.com/CountryMusic, Instagram.com/CMA, and sign up for CMA Exclusive, CMA’s e-newsletter. Fans can also download the 2015 CMA Music Festival mobile app for iPhone  or Android to view the latest artist lineups and to plan their festival experience.

CMA Music Festival will once again be filmed for a national television special to air on the ABC Television Network. This is the 12th consecutive year that the event has been filmed for a network television special, a feat no other music festival has achieved. “CMA Music Festival: Country’s Night to Rock” will be executive-produced by Robert Deaton.

CMA Music Festival is organized and produced by the Country Music Association. Fan Fair® is a registered trademark of CMA.


Suggested Tweet: #CMAfest is better than ever! @HunterHayes = Artist of the Day, new stage @HRCNashville, +more! http://CMAfest.com via @CountryMusic

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