Next Music Festival

February 21, 2017
Your Next Music Festival

Next summer's CMA Music Festival — which is downtown Nashville's largest tourist draw of the year — likely will feature yet another venue for live performances.

Sarah Trahern, CEO of the Country Music Association, said her organization expects to incorporate the new Ascend Amphitheater into the programming for the four-day event. The brief, preliminary preview was part of a speech and interview Trahern gave Tuesday at the Nashville Business Breakfast, co-hosted by Lipscomb University and the NBJ.

Nathan Morgan | Nashville Business Journal

Last summer's CMA Music Festival broke records (again), attracting 87, 680 fans a day. That's almost a 10 percent increase from 2014's then-record showing, coming at a time when international tourists are flocking to Nashville in record numbers and the genre of country has achieved dominant mainstream status, underpinning Nashville's "Music City" branding. It's a reminder not to discount the role country's widespread popularity plays in making the ABC show "Nashville" viable and attractive to viewers, dovetailing with Nashville's newly cultivated "It City" national profile that is attracting new residents and business expansions.

"How do we continue to grow an event that in some ways has already matured? How do we grow it, but keep it intimate?" Trahern asked. Next summer's CMA Music Fest will be the 45th edition, and the 16th since the event grew by moving to Lower Broadway, instead of the Tennessee State Fairgrounds.

One way, Trahern said, is featuring additional concerts during the festival at Ascend Amphitheater, which is located in SoBro and has capacity for 6, 800 attendees.

Trahern said the 2016 CMA Music Fest probably will feature daytime performances at the amphitheater. Such daytime shows historically have been free at all the other stages set up around downtown during CMA Music Fest.

"We may do night shows in future years, " Trahern said. Historically, the festival's nightly concerts at Nissan Stadium have cost money to attend; the stadium is set up to hold about 50, 000 concertgoers for those shows.

CMA is a nearly 60-year-old trade group, originally formed to promote the genre and now probably best known for the annual Country Music Association Awards, which just occurred earlier this month.

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