The countdown is on for the CMT Music Fest, set for July 8 and 9 at the Bingemans camp grounds near Kitchener, ON. Giving this country music extravaganza extra significance is the fact that this is the first festival produced by Corus Live, a new division of Corus Entertainment that will focus on the live event business.
The CMT Music Fest has a strong lineup, with US country stars Eric Church and the Zac Brown Band headlining (on July 8 and 9 respectively). They’re joined by notable Canadian acts The Road Hammers, Washboard Union, Lindi Ortega, Cold Creek County, Kira Isabella, Leah Daniels, and Meghan Patrick, plus American Andrew Hyatt.
To learn more about the fest and Corus Live in general, FYI interviewed John MacDonald, Senior Vice President, Women and Lifestyle Content, at Corus Entertainment.
“We first began considering the opportunity last spring and it’s been non-stop since then,” he explains. “We're very pleased with the overall response to CMT Music Fest. The reception from advertisers has been overwhelming. They, like we, view Corus Live as another opportunity to connect with consumers in an environment that showcases their brands.”
He adds that “live events lend themselves better to some brands than others, but we believe we're just scratching the surface of what Corus Live can become and expect we'll be launching events tied to more of our brands in the months and years to come.”
Some Corus brands are built around kids, families and women, and MacDonald informs us that “those segments along with focusing on our radio brands like 102.1 the Edge are natural candidates for future Corus Live events. We expect we will have additional events to be announced in the months to come."
The booking for CMT Music Fest was handled by Feldman Entertainment. “Feldman has been a great partner for us as we've embarked on this new endeavor and has provided valuable insight, counsel and expertise all along the way,” says MacDonald.
“We are very pleased with the bill and know that all of the attendees will have a night to remember featuring some of the top artists performing today. I expect many will also find new favorites that they may not have known prior to the show.”
MacDonald acknowledges that the recent decline in the Canadian dollar did present a challenge for the festival. “Certainly there are hurdles to get through putting on a festival like CMT Music Fest, and the exchange rate is but one. The fact U.S. artists love their Canadian fans and wanted to play this market was of great value to us while planning this festival. “
Corus Live will be monitoring CMT Music Fest carefully, notes MacDonald. “We always look to learn from every new venture we embark on and CMT Music Fest is no different. We remain committed to Corus Live as a new opportunity and expect to expand the effort next year and beyond.”
Corus Entertainment was recently granted approval to modify the programming mandate at CMT, a move that stirred up much controversy. Interestingly enough, MacDonald states that for now it is business as usual at the channel.
“Just because the mandate has been relaxed doesn't necessarily mean we will make any changes. CMT has been very successful operating over the past several years and though we will continue to listen to our audience and respond with the type of programming they want to see, we have no plans to change the programming strategy on CMT as a result.”