Audacy Adds a New Level of Emotional Bang to Its Live Events

By Audacy InSites Archives
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Audacy is in the midst of rolling out a series of live events that create more resonance than the standard concert. Live concerts have always been part of the broadcast and digital audio giant's agenda. But lately, Audacy has become more intent on layering in deeper emotional bonds -- and in some instances, more intimate connections with concertgoers.

For a case in point, look no further than the country music "Stars and Strings" concert that took place in New York last month, timed to coincide with the somber anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The focus will continue with "We Can Survive," focused on mental health in partnership with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles on October 23.

It will also be in evidence during an intimate album release concert by Coldplay in Los Angeles October 24 and a New Year's Eve event with Maroon 5 in Las Vegas.

"We love creating memories," said Michael Martin, the Senior Vice President of Programming and Music Initiatives at Audacy, which is home to over 230 local radio stations, and a digital platform home to thousands of podcasts. The company rebranded from Entercom to Audacy in March 2021 following a four-year transformation that budded after a merger with CBS Radio in 2017.

"You can always see a band in an arena, and that's a great experience. But something like 'Stars and Strings,' those people will remember that night," Martin added.

Designed to benefit 9/11 Day, the nonprofit that runs the federally designated September 11th National Day of Service, "Stars and Strings" took place on the rooftop of Pier 17, where not only did the arches of the Brooklyn Bridge loom, but so did the brilliant twin beams of light shining from the site of the former World Trade Center.

The musical lineup included the Zac Brown Band, Darius Rucker, Lee Brice, Chris Young, Tenille Arts, Caroline Jones and Jameson Rodgers. At the end, all of the stars gathered for an unrehearsed rendition of The Band's "The Weight" to cap the evening.

The dramatic setting bumped it up a notch and gave the event a feeling of camaraderie that happens when music brings people together, Martin said. "There's an emotional connection, and that's what we love to create for people, with their favorite artists doing their favorite songs," he explained. "That builds a bond. It builds a bond with our company and what we try to do. It just adds an emotional connection so we're not just a jukebox."

He likened it to what might happen if Dave Grohl did an intimate solo show at the Troubadour amid a big Foo Fighters tour. "I'm not saying we're doing that, but I'm saying that is the mindset. What can we create that is unique?"

The same kind of chemistry took place in 2014 when the company arranged for Ed Sheeran to perform on Ellis Island at an outdoor concert near the base of the Statue of Liberty. Even more intimate was a show with Bono and the Edge on the porch of a house on Cape Cod in 2018 amid U2's Experience + Innocence Tour. "I do this for a living, and I'll never forget that day," Martin said.

Not all Audacy events have a charitable component, but the annual fall concert "We Can Survive" at the Hollywood Bowl was conceived as a way to raise breast cancer awareness. From the first year, when Katy Perry helped curate it, "we realized we had something very, very special both for the cause, the location and the artists," Martin recalled. "And year by year, the artists just gravitated to it."

This year's lineup features the reunited Black Eyed Peas, Coldplay, Doja Cat, Maroon 5, Shawn Mendes and The Kid LAROI. The cause has switched to mental health awareness, with proceeds benefiting the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

"Part of my goal with each of these things that we put together is we want to have the audience to have a phenomenal time," Martin explained. "But we also want the artist to say, 'I really like that idea. That's a really cool thing to do'."

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