(From Billboard Magazine, November 16, 2013, Written by Ray Waddell.) At the 10th annual Billboard Touring Awards on November 14, 2013, George Strait will be the first ever country artist to be honored as a Legend of Live. Legend of Live is Billboard’s highest accolade in the touring space and honors individuals or bands that have made a significant and lasting contribution to the live music and touring business. The award recognizes the professionalism and commitment given to the art of live performance and the fan experience at concerts.
George Strait is receiving this highly sought after award for many various reasons. Strait is almost 40 years into his touring career and still remains one of the most in-demand headlines in the industry. One of the criteria to receive a Legend of Live award is that the artist must have toured for three decades; this was not a problem for Strait since he has been at the top of the charts since the beginning of his career. Strait has also been an innovator for live performances and helped create the festival touring model for country music. The Strait Fest tours have grossed over $90 million from only 45 shows in just three years.
To keep his tours fresh, Strait has limited his tours in the past 20 years and strategically plots which cities he will visit. Because of the selectivity of Strait’s shows in recent years, almost every show has sold out. Having sold out shows caused Strait to develop a 360-degree configuration which produces 10-20% more tickets available than the traditional arena configuration. Strait strives to please his fans and remain financially successful while still keeping a selective touring schedule.
Strait has still had a significant impact on the Billboard Boxscore charts and grossed $500 million in the past 20 years even with his selective touring. The year of 2014 will mark the end of Strait’s touring career but not his live performance career. Strait states, “I can’t see me stepping away totally from playing live. If a special event comes up that I want to do, then I’ll do it, but just no structured tours.”