Building New Arena Stars

Blake Shelton at the 2012 Country Music Awards

(from Billboard Magazine, September 7, 2013) It took Blake Shelton, fifteen years to become as successful as he is now. Traditionally, the country music genre develops arena-level ticket sellers by making the artist climb the ladder to success. Artists begin by being the first opening act of a show and end with headlining shows while also making new music and gaining a fan base. Blake Shelton, however, did things differently.

Blake Shelton made his entrance into the country music world with his hit “Austin” back in 2001; however, Shelton had already been in Nashville for years trying to make it. Shelton then began creating scattered hits while also touring with some big names in country music. The two things that put Shelton’s career back on track, after he had been in a rut, were being asked to be a judge on “The Voice” and having a succession of hit songs. Subsequently, Shelton’s career took off selling as many as 600,000 tickets this year and winning entertainer of the year at the CMAs. Shelton’s agent, Rob Beckman, and co-head of William Morris Endeavor’s Nashville office said that they had to design Shelton’s tour based on the hectic schedule they knew he was going to have filming “The Voice” and touring at the same time.

Being a judge on “The Voice” has diversified the audience at Shelton’s shows but it did not bring immediate success and touring. Last year he opened for Brad Paisley and headlined some smaller shows. Beckman says that since Shelton was new to headlining shows and they did not know what was going to happen they “kept ticket prices down and went for volume” for this year.

Shelton has sold out most of his headlining shows, even selling 27,000 tickets in competition with Lollapalooza. Shelton’s manager, Brandon Blackstock of Starstruck Entertainment, has thirty-three more concerts booked for Shelton this year with an average of 23,000 tickets sold to each. Shelton will also be playing some smaller arenas which will decrease his ticket sales but will still sell around 18,000 tickets a show.