Despite stiff competition from rivals, the Country Music Association reported record attendance for the 46th annual CMA Music Festival. The festival drew capacity crowds to Ascend Amphitheater and other venues around the city including 11 stages, 7 of which are free of charge to the public, and 167 hours of music from 350 plus artists and over 1,100 musicians.
Stages of note included the Cracker Barrel Country Roads stage at Ascend Amphitheater, headlined by Big & Rich, Sara Evans, Hunter Hayes, and Dan + Shay, as well as the daytime Chevrolet Riverfront Stage, both of which hit capacity numbers repeatedly over the course of the four-day event.
Stand-out performances included Garth Brooks' performance in front of a packed house at Nissan Stadium and Randy Travis and Michael Ray Thursday performing on the Chevrolet Riverfront Stage.
Key attendee statistics from the festival, based on attendee registration data via CMA Fest Fan Access:
- The percentage of returning attendees held steady at 48 percent. Among four-day passholders, the returning attendee level is even higher at 51 percent returning for 2017
- Gen X and Millennials now make up the biggest base of Festival fans with equal shares of attendees from both of these coveted fan demos
- Millennials, attendees ages 18-34, delivered a key segment for new attendees with a share of 57 percent attending for the first time compared to 52 percent across all age ranges
“CMA Music Festival continues to attract a loyal and engaged audience that is evolving both demographically and in breadth of interest across all types of Country Music,” said Karen Stump, CMA Senior Director of Market Research. “It’s our fan base that is key to supporting the success stories from this year’s event.”