Attending two different shows on the same day I got to experience two opposite shows. One that had every over 60 tour bus audience attending and the other a more fun, socially charged audience who had been were ready to party…welcome to event 79 – Grand Ole Opry 94th Birthday.
What was the event?
What: Grand Ole Opry 94th Birthday
When: Saturday 5th October 2019
Where: Grand Ole Opry, Nashville, Tennessee
Let the story begin…
It’s 3pm and it’s the afternoon performance. The crowd have an average age of 72 and the atmosphere is slightly flat. Actually not slightly – it just was. The show was one performance and performer who was a very well established name but there was no energy at all being received from the audience. As I glanced around a few of there heads had nodded off for an afternoon nap. I was very confused. But I realised something that I had been told earlier in the day. The one thing that the world of country music should be worried about is the demographics of the current audience. And I could see why. The future audience of country music was not in this room – that’s for sure. However, Grand Ole Opry did cater for this crowd in a way by the type of staff working where of there demographic, there was seats outside for those to sit while enjoying the pre-entertainment and thirdly – there was musical artist bingo. Excellent.
It was the 94th birthday of the Grand Ole Opry – so I thought there would be a bit more liveliness to the crowd at least. It all changed when we got to the 7:30pm showing. The place was full. There was no tour bus bingo to be seen and there was a whole different approach of customer engagement. It was party time. There was a fair amount of hustle and bustle in the air. And it was time to party. Everything about this performance was completely different. There was a host. There was a more up act. And importantly there was life in the auditorium. It felt like I was now in the Grand Ole Opry.
Before the show the pre-warm Up was all about “getting everyone up and out there seats”…those that know me will know you don’t need to ask twice for me to dance. I danced that hard I was picked out of an auditorium of 4000. Perfect. Instead of now just watching the show I was able to be part of it. I would be playing a game of “plinko.” A token that you then put into a game and win a prize. To cut a long story short. I won women’s jewellery worth $270 – it just didn’t suit me. The game though didn’t have the “overall engagement” it could have.
Back to analysing the venue. The Grand Ole Opry is globally known to be the home of country music. On stage was some absolute legends of the Nashville music community. And it really was a celebration. Trace Atkins – who apparently was a country heartthrob – was on stage strutting his stuff and the female proportion of the audience were loving every minute. The program had some greats. Sadly I didn’t know any of the hits but watching the crowd – they were getting right in to the Grand Ole Opry spirit. It was alive. The venue felt like what you had seen on the marketing materials, videos and so on – buzzing with history.
Soaked in history the Grand Ole Opry has a certain Ora to it. It’s a great feeling walking through the doors. But as the show was finishing – I was worried because 4000 were leaving with then another 4000 coming in for the 9:30pm – it was EXTREMELY busy. From an events point of view they really do need to look at there overall event operations plans. I get it – it’s an Music institution but it’s also a venue.
One thing to take away…
There was cake, fan engagement, country singers galore. To be there was special and to understand the demographics was cool – but change is needed to keep this amazing place going into the future…