Bruised Vocal Cord, 60 Bucks In Parking & Baked Country Music
June 17, 2011
Jimmy Carter (a recovering CMA/Fan Fair addict)
A killer event ... nearly a 20 hour-a-day party for four days ... more if you go to fan clubs and if a Country music star's home burns, you work some more ... it drains you ... the heat melts you ... it's your big hot yoga sweat for the year!
The CMA people work hard ... they are not perfect. The event is bigger than anything I can think of. It's Super Bowl big ... I've covered both several times.
The NFL is heavy-handed and the CMA must go to NFL school. Very close in styles.
So much energy in these events. And the CMA wanted to lower the age of the attendee and for sure did ... It's picture-perfect-ready for the most part.
Some stars don't want to get near Nashville that week ... others do it for 24 hours ... others have to do it all...
I love when the stars sign the autographs and love the energy of the CMT Awards ... the guests are from sports and everywhere else.
There was a lack of major league front-row talent this year. Not sure what politics were involved with the missing persons, but a lot of big stars missed that show this year. And were missed!
(I hate it when people say the ratings were good ... that should not be the only judge ... Sometimes ratings mean you were a good marketing person ... eyeballs saw the show --doesn't mean they liked it all ... like box office for a film; high box office doesn't mean it was a good movie ... just that the studio sold the advertising! Lots of great movies never get seen.)
The big sea change at this monster event, beside the growing heat it seems to attract, is the social media environment.
YouTube posted clips ... Facebook checking was everywhere ...Twitter too ... BUTTTTTTT if you had AT&T, you were pretty much dead in the water. Especially on CMT Awards night ... no cell service...AT&T a boat anchor ... It was bad...
The "authorities" still act like the Gestapo during these four days. 60,000 people with camera phones can go anywhere and upload to the next planet, but people with news cameras are feared and treated like they have the Ebola Virus!
Can't walk unaccompanied in the autograph area while thousands walk alongside with camera able to shoot and do anything they like.
The stadium is filled with still and camera phones that shoot and post all kind of video. I saw all the end-of-night acts on YouTube. I couldn't shoot it, but Joe Bob could and post it for the world ... It's insane.
We folks with real cameras are responsible and have corporate bosses. We live here 52 weeks a year and you can find us 24/7. Joe Bob with an iPhone on row 4 upper deck has more shooting privileges than we do and you have no recall on him, nor do you even know his name.
This carries on to the Opry now. The network affiliates pretty much are told to park in the lot where there is no water and bathroom and do your thing. Not real exciting TV. For the last 30 years we have gone Live in the Opry Green room ... backstage ... in the back entrance ... everywhere imaginable.
I think the new stars are causing these problems ... The new superstars fear the media... the media is now the enemy. The PR people fear the social media and the TMZ'ing of the world. As maybe they should. But capping the people who are trying to help the CMA and Opry is the wrong approach. If we were trying to find out something bad, we COULD and would use other methods of investigative reporting ... The legitimate media with satellite trucks and live cameras are not the bad guys.
The newer stars have a whole different approach to the media. It's not a good one. Garth Brooks needs to come here and teach a few of his Oklahoma people some media points. For a start.
The Fan Fair was started for fan clubs and for regular people to have a chance to meet a star and maybe say hello and get an autograph. This has more and more become a huge TV show set with lots of corporate sponsors. The fans are sweaty props and willing participants. That's fine but the way the even runs now is not why it has lasted for 40 years. Bigger isn't always better.
The Original Fan Fair was kept at a sell-out 13,000 on PURPOSE. So some degree of intimacy could be maintained.
This event is huge ... spread out over tens of miles. The fans are props in a huge photo shoot.
Down the road, 85,000 people are in a dusty field for the Bonnaroo festival.
It is even more successful in attendance. They put a fence around a cow pasture. We put a fence around a downtown area. Great stars ... not my style ... is the style of 100,00-plus.
It's not an easy mission: Two died at Roo and 1,000 hurt from heat. CMA: 750 off them had paramedics treat them. ... Hell Week, Country style.
I don't know how you fix the bad things. More good than bad, but more difficult than easy.
Media IS only growing more out of control with every blog getting credentials. The real media remains there to get you if you do wrong and help you when you need help. We represent the taxpayers and the little guy with no voice. We have a responsibility to meet. We are not PR people.
Shania and Keith Urban show rehearsals were my week highlights ... both handled press-friendly events and met their own goals. Got max publicity. Putting acts on at LP Field at midnight got minimum publicity. Do what you go to do ... More corporate sponsors and tighter controls on everything from bottle water to where you can walk. They times they keep a changin'.
Evolution is what the social study people would call it.