• Travel and Fanfare

Nashville's CMA Fest Looking Towards 2021

By Marq Burnett

If the early numbers are any indication, CMA Fest will be back in a big way in 2021.

Speaking during AllianceBernstein’s ‘Future of Tourism, Business & Entertainment in Nashville’ panel discussion on Thursday, Country Music Association CEO Sarah Trahern said 75% of ticket holders have opted to have their passes transferred to 2021.

“Having to make the decision to cancel [CMA] Fest was just heartbreaking for all of us,” Trahern said. “It’s something that affects not just our entire industry, but really the city of Nashville, because it’s such a key community event. We’re really teeing up well for 2021 already. We’ve given our fans until June 1 to request a refund, and so far, 75% of the fans who bought tickets for Fest this year have just wanted them rolled forward to next year.”

Trahern said fans have been eager to see the 2021 lineup and have shown support via social media.

Losing CMA Fest 2020 due to Covid-19 was a big blow to Nashville’s tourism, hospitality and entertainment industries. The 2019 CMA Fest brought in a record $65 million in direct visitor spending for its sold-out, four-day festival, according to the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. That’s an increase of 6% over 2018.

Trahern acknowledged that it’s been an “awful year” and noted that it will take longer for some parts of the business to recover. But the positive feedback from fans has been encouraging.

“I’m very bullish on the chance of our city recovering,” Trahern said.

While the situation has been difficult, Trahern said this time has allowed CMA to pivot and continue to “fulfill our mission of growing country music around the world.”

Trahern said CMA plans to announce a number of content initiatives in the coming weeks for programming during June, July and August to provide more of a bridge between the fans and artists.

Through its philanthropic arm, the CMA Foundation, CMA donated $1 million to the COVID-19 Relief Fund established by The Recording Academy and MusiCares in early April.

The funds helped provide support for those in the music industry whose employment has been impacted, and will specifically assist in covering mortgage and rent costs to “keep out-of-work industry professionals in their homes,” according to a news release.

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