Luke Bryan has a very good VIP program. I was lucky enough to win a meet and great for the second time for the Syracuse, NY show. He is incredibly nice and it’s always a great experience to meet him in person. Like many country artists, Luke has a fan club entry to win his meet and greats. Luke has such a kind, humble, fun personality and truly makes each fan that he interacts with feel special.
I understand why a lot of country artists do this: accessible for all fans vs. only those who can afford it. That makes the process a great thing.
Entering the VIP: You sign in, receive a red bag and a 2-3 song acoustic set and some finger snacks. The VIP area is very intimate and Luke performs really well. He really is so laid back and fun in these performances.
Suggestions for his staff & CID Entertainment: I have been saying this one for a few years now number the wrist bands given out when you enter and possibly allow groups of 50 in at a time. But when it’s time to enter the acoustic tent area, make them line up in order by bracelet number. That will seriously cut down on the insane running, pushing, coming up from the back that occurs and keeps it fair, if you get there on time you go in first. Tim McGraw’s VIP staff does that and it works very well. It didn’t take much time at all to get everyone in number order. Plus who wants to have to run like crazy to get into an event when you were among the first 20 in line? One other suggestion would be to offer a limited # of VIP Meet & Greet tickets for purchase to compliment the fan club meet and greet contest. Keith Urban did that last tour and I believe sold 5 or 6 per show, we got the party, M&G and there was a roped off up front spot in the pit we were escorted into. I know a few friends of mine would love to meet Luke but, have not been lucky enough to win yet and with Luke’s ever growing popularity it will be harder.
Venue Comments: This was my first time attending an event at the Lakeview Amphitheater. I thought the venue itself was very nice. Getting in wasn’t bad, I had a family member drop us off. Getting out was miserable. 1st they need way more lighting, the ground is very uneven in spots and you couldn’t see where you were walking. We had heard it was fast to take the Centro buses downtown after. That didn’t work out to be a fast option because they did not have a bus only lane so the bus got stuck in all the traffic. They should have a car lane and a bus lane so the buses going downtown and to the parking lots could easily move in and out and be way more efficient. The prices were also outrageous compared to other venues I have attended. $7 for a soda/water, $15 for a drink. I am not sure if attending events at this venue will be top of my list to return to.
To thank you for getting me to 8000 followers on Instagram we will be doing 8 days of giveaways! Thank you for allowing me to share my passion with you! Day 5: Luke Bryan Pink Size XL A Double Shot of Heaven shirt from the Kill the Lights Tour. To enter: Go to my IG page @lightscmemories Be sure you FOLLOW the page, then comment below the photo and tag 2 friends inviting them to like my page. Bonus entry will be given to anyone that signs up for my newsletter on this website.
WINNER Via Random Draw: @littlemisssunshine9296! Congratulations!
Luke came to Raleigh for back to back shows this weekend, I went last year and had so much fun I just had to do both shows again this year! Luke never disappoints.
I did VIP for the Friday night show and then purchased a regular ticket for the Saturday night show. Saturday was an epic fail on the part of Coast Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek which is a Live Nation Venue.
VIP package Amphitheatre shows:
One (1) premium reserved ticket in the first 20 rows or one (1) general admission pit ticket*
Invitation to “Luke’s Lounge” before the show with cash bar**
Two song acoustic pre-show performance by Luke Bryan***
One (1) exclusive Luke Bryan merchandise gift
One (1) commemorative laminate
On-site concert concierge
Due to an accident on the highway I ended up arriving a bit late but, I did find out that CID Entertainment still is using the way they did last year’s so it’s a free or all to get in to the tent and get a good spot. I truly wish they would change to a system others use and hand out #’d bracelets and then make everyone line up outside the tent by number. That is the only fair way to do it otherwise you have sprinters getting by you, line skippers etc. and it’s absolutely not fair. You should enter in the order you check in and a simple cheap hand numbered bracelet would make it fair and organized. Tim McGraw, Steven Tyler etc. all use that and it works! Since I arrived late I didn’t get a good spot in the tent at all. Luke however never disappoints with his special acoustic sets. He always shows such fun personality and provides great performances. I also need to shout out to Jonathan from CID Entertainment. He was very nice and personable and walked around to be sure everyone was having a good time.
After the set I headed to my seats to see the mess that was made by not following the seating that was sold to us at the point of purchase. I ended up with what was supposed to be a 3rd row seat in Section 2 (Center Section) when the tickets were purchased Section 2 Row G was actually front row with the Grey stage in front of it and then the pit on either side. And Row J was 3rd row. Since the venue was not set up the way they sold the tickets it was more like row 7 or 8 which was disappointing. I also had the person behind me steal my cup (VIP giveaway) out from under the seat.
Luke truly brought the FUN tonight and we had a good ole Hurricane party! Luke is by far one of the absolute best live performers out there and truly deserves that Entertainer of the Year the title. He is even more engaging and fun than others that have held the title before him. He played all of his hits and made everyone forget about the rain and wind happening around us. He’s captivating and just full of energy from start to finish. Dustin Lynch and Little Big Town were also absolutely amazing opening performers as well.
I ran into Jonathan from CID Entertainment when I was waiting for my Dustin Lynch meet & greet and he said he would run me down a new cup to replace my stolen one from the night before. I think he got busy though unfortunately so I still don’t have the cup. Hoping CID Entertainment will mail me one. I also let him know about the seating issue.
Dustin Lynch is a complete sweetheart. It was so nice to meet him and I will say the photos were posted quickly. Only disappointment was mine was the only one that fuzzy/blurry which is why there should always be 2 photos taken at a Meet & Greet.
Now after seeing the seating issue on Friday night, I started calling Live Nation, and the venue early Saturday in hopes that they would correct the layout and in turn give us what we were sold. I got absolutely no where other than being passed around, everyone pointing the fingers at each other and nobody wanting to do anything. You cannot sell a front row ticket which clearly showed on a map a grey stage in front and the pit on the right and left and then turn around and change it, not notify the customers and then do absolutely nothing about it. The best one was when they tried telling me it was that way last year too and I was like no it wasn’t I was at both shows and was in the left pit both times. I would have bought pit if I knew they were not going to arrange it as sold and it would have saved me money. It’s unacceptable on so many levels. Every single person in the front row with me was furious because we ALL purchased the tickets seeing the same map. However Live Nation had conveniently changed it Friday night after the show. They tried blaming Luke Bryan and team which I thought was crazy. Most artists and especially country artists do not seek to truly screw fans or sell tickets under false pretenses. I called Live Nation and they said the venue said the seating chart did not change there was always a pit, I said yes there was a pit on the left and right of the stage but, not in front of Section 2, they said there is nothing we can do call the venue. I called the venue, they admitted the seating had changed but, said I would have to speak to the Box Office Manager. I left my number and never received a return call. It’s unprofessional, shady sales, it’s a major disappointment to the fans, its false advertising and to all of us that got screwed over its theft in a way. It’s like we went to a car dealership and bought a BMW and then we arrived and they sent us home with a bicycle. The tickets were purchased in April with the stage in grey in front of Section 2, Row G and as recent as the last time we checked it on Thursday it was still a grey stage in front of us. They should have done something. A: Fixed it between Friday and Saturday’s shows. B: Communicated to those that got screwed over. C: Offered something in the form of compensation for what happened. We all paid a premium for those front row seats and had people that had pd ½ of that now standing in front of us. I have lost all faith in Live Nation and Coastal Credit Union Music Park. I was beyond disappointed as were all of the rest of us in the same situation that night. Even two reps from CID Entertainment told us that the layout did not match the map at the point of sale.
Luke’s performance was fantastic but, it was just disappointing not to have been front row. We were dodging tall men all night just to see.
However, I think everyone should go see Luke Bryan, Little Big Town and Dustin Lynch in concert. They are all absolutely fabulous performers and just bring the FUN to the stage in every way and give 200% of themselves out there.
Hopefully Luke will be back next year and hopefully the venue will do something to make up for what they did this year. I know many of us are going to be sure we keep this information out there so that Luke’s team is aware of what the venue did in this case to his fans.
I did also share with Jonathan at CID Entertainment my suggestion for Luke’s Fan Club. I think it’s awesome they do the Meet and Greet Giveaways at each show but, I wish they would improve their entry process so you would receive an email saying your entry was received, good luck or something. Dustin’s fan club does that and at least you know your entry was confirmed.
I wore my new Cold shoulder blouse from Bebe, you can get yours here!
I also used my Coach Wristlet and cross body that I was given as gifts from friends for my birthday. They were perfect! The wristlet held my car key, ID, money and credit card and the cross body fit the wristlet, camera and lip gloss with room left over but, it was nice not to have to carry around a bulky purse with me.
This is a topic I have been thinking about for the last few years. It’s part of the reason for starting this blog. I never want this page to be a negative place but, rather somewhere to share information, experiences, value etc. If I could sit down with artist’s and their management teams to give them insight into what fans feel are best VIP practices this is what I would say:
Artists should keep their commitments. It’s one of the things that I think a pop star and his team did wrong earlier this year. If they didn’t want to do meet and greets anymore that’s fine but, finish the ones that you had committed to, implement rules to meet your needs in the interim and have your team enforce them but, respect that a good portion of your VIP attendees often are paying to travel for the experience.
Don’t do photo assembly lines. I truly wish all artists that did meet and greets would commit to an hour or so of their time depending on the #’s and do it right, treat each person like a human being, say hello, ask their name, ask where they are from (stars may be shocked how far some will travel to see them), have a genuine interaction, then take the photo. Let’s face it these meet and greets, photo ops, fan trips cost a large sum of money, show the fans you value and respect their time and money by giving them an interaction. When an artist’s team brags that they did 300 pictures in 16 minutes that truly is disappointing vs a recent event I was at they had about 200 people and they devoted a solid hour or more, it wasn’t rushed and everyone that walked out after was so happy, felt so special and most of all valued.
Make the interactions private. What I have been seeing quite a bit lately is a curtain box created and have thought that is such a great idea. You can step in, have your interaction and not have 200-300 people watching it. It helps with your nerves too, nobody wants to feel like they are in a fishbowl it also solves the issue of people taking photos of the entertainer/star as they approach. It will also help the genuine interaction because then they are not still speaking to the person ahead of you etc.
Make the rules clear, stick to them and let them know what will happen if they violate the rules. If you say don’t take your cell phones out and ask for a selfie and someone does don’t post the photo, if you say don’t hug, kiss and rub all over an artist and people do don’t post the photo. I would guarantee you would only have to enforce it once and word would travel. Too many fans will just take liberties, ignore the rules just to achieve their own objective and it truly does spoil the process for others in many cases and it’s disrespectful to the artist.
Post photos in a timely manner. The companies that have them posted same day or in 24 hours always get a WOW for service from me. VIP Nation events have been crushing it with this service the last year. All events I have gone to hosted by them they have been up during the show or the next day. It’s been nice to see many are getting them done quickly lately, people are always so excited to receive them so the faster the better.
Give organic genuine experiences. A few tours recently I have seen many people asking for kisses, hugs etc. You are putting the stars in an awkward position because if they say no then they can be looked at like they are being a jerk but, people have to realize in most cases you are a stranger or a familiar face in the crowd to the artist. Would you want a stranger walking up and asking you to kiss them, hug them etc.? It’s such a better experience when it happens organically and it’s something the artist initiates because it’s genuine and something they truly wanted to do. On the flip side though as the artist make an effort to say hello, ask someone’s name and go from there.
Please no gum or food in your mouth. I have a few photos with different entertainers with a wad of gum clearly seen in the pic and then recently had an experience where someone was eating a marshmallow. Again people pay a lot for these experiences, travel long distances and it’s just respectful not to have food/gum in your mouth and seen in the photos.
Respect the time of individuals paying for the VIP experience. Don’t make them arrive 2 hours ahead to just stand in line and don’t leave them in the various elements like extreme heat & cold. Be organized. Nobody likes to stand around waiting for hours.
For random interactions with stars I always like to see who puts in the extra effort with their fans. I can say after seeing it many times that Keith Urban is one of the best at this. Keith will stop and literally do selfies with 40 people and it takes maybe 10 minutes. Now in these random cases I think it’s fine to do a quick hello, photo and move on you are not paying for it.
I think the stars also need to be careful the way their team is representing them. At the softball game at CMA fest one of the entertainer’s boyfriend’s came out where fans were lined up after the game and was telling a guy to hurry up and have her car pulled around because she didn’t want to stop for fans. Another country star I saw three times at CMA fest once on the pink carpet, at Fan Fair X and then out and about and he could not be bothered to take a photo or have an interaction but as soon as a TV camera was on him he changed right away. I personally will not spend my money, pay to travel, attend a concert of anyone that shows such disregard for fans. It’s all in how the situation is handled. Like I said in my CMA Fest blog from Day 3 instead of responding “NAH” to someone, say sorry not today. Treat people like human beings and they will in turn reward you by devoting their time and spending their hard earned money to support your career.
One star recently said it best you always have to treat each person special because that may be your 1 time ever to meet that person that has supported you and you don’t know what they had to do to be at that show, if they saved for 6 months, flew across the country etc. Whether it’s a 30 second selfie interaction or a paid meet and greet it’s your chance to make and leave an impression both on the fan and star’s end. I will always support the ones that care and truly get it because that adds value to the experience. I also feel we all have to treat them respectfully.
I would love to hear more thoughts on this from those that read the blog…
Crazy to believe the final day was upon us. What a fun 6 days it had been and I am ready to sign up for next year! Walking out of the front of the hotel that morning it was like stepping into a sauna. I cannot say enough you have to hydrate and have a plan to hydrate all day in this weather. We even used the https://www.jimmyjohns.com/ delivery service. They would deliver food, water, power aid right to you at the various stages around town.
I was able to meet one of my all-time favorites today, Michael Carter who plays guitar for Luke Bryan. He is too cute, super sweet and one incredibly talented man. It was so much fun to finally get to meet him personally.
Tonight’s performers are sure to provide us with an amazing last night!
National Anthem: Exile
Little Big Town with special guest Pharrell
What a night of performances! Little Big Town is always fantastic live and always worth it to go see. Brett Eldredge was fabulous, he is so high energy and clearly loves what he does. Keith and Luke literally would have blown the roof off if the stadium had one! Keith is such a fantastic live performer, he can play the guitar better than most in the business and is as genuine, humble, kind and down to earth as you can be. Luke is also a tremendous performer, kind, engaging and has such a great sense of humor. He brought Keith back out during his set and they had a guitar playing contest. Luke played an extra-long set which I loved since last year he was cut off after only a few songs by curfew and he really made up for it.
For me personally after seeing the stadium performances who will I spend my money and time to go see when they tour? I will always go see Luke Bryan, Keith Urban, and Steven Tyler. I will also add Brett Eldredge, Little Big Town, Cole Swindell, Cassadee Pope, Dierks Bentley, Miranda Lambert, Sam Hunt, Eric Church, Kelsea Ballerini and Carrie Underwood. Not saying the others were not good it’s just either my own personal taste in music or from what I saw of them in regards to fan interaction this week.
My one regret was not getting to see Charlie Worsham perform. My schedule never quite lined up to make that happen but, hope to in the near future.
Overall another successful fest! What would I change for next year? Little things like give each person that buys a 4 day package their own stadium approved bag, Fan Fair X gives each 4 day pass holder 1 of their top 3 M&G tickets or HGTV Lodge performances and then do a lottery for the rest.
This year for CMA Fest I wanted to go all in and really enjoy everything that the city of Nashville had to offer leading up to the Festival Kick off. I decided to fly in on Tuesday and get things started. For the pre-festival nights we found a hotel outside the city as most of the downtown hotels were extremely high in price.
First stop was the City of Hope Softball game. This is a really fun event every year but, it is sweltering at the ball park so you want to drink a lot and stay hydrated. You really get to see the fun personalities and competitive spirit of the celebrities and all for a great cause. City of Hope does a lot of tremendous work. They raised over $200,000 for cancer research and there was a wide range of celebrities that showed up to play including: Bret Michaels, Vince Gill, Barry Zito, Lauren Alaina, Craig Wayne Boyd, Danielle Bradbery, Bobby Bones, Bucky Covington, Jessie James Decker, Charles Esten, Nick Fradiani, Mickey Guyton, Jonathan Jackson, Chris Lane, LOCASH, Scotty McCreery, A Thousand Horses, Tristan McIntosh, David Nail, Cassadee Pope, RaeLynn, Jamie Lynn Spears, Mark Wills and Brett Young. Trisha Yearwood sang the national anthem. The event Emcee’s were Bill Cody and Lorianne Crooks. Here is a video of Trisha Yearwood singing the national anthem:
After the game we headed over to one of my favorite restaurants in Nashville: http://www.demosrestaurants.com/food the food is amazing, I go every year once or twice just for the Brown Butter Garlic Spaghetti, it’s to die for! The staff is very friendly, they do a great job of getting people seated, drinks are great and food is like I said AMAZING!
To wrap up the evening we went to the http://www.opry.com/ for the late show. I had never been in my past travels to Nashville and I will say I really enjoyed it! We didn’t get the tickets until a few weeks before so we were pretty high up but, the acoustics were incredible. The late show had Darius Rucker, Chris Janson, Charles Esten (50th performance at the Opry), Lindsay Eli, Bill Anderson, Jeannie Seeley (50th Anniversary) and Carrie Underwood. Each performer was absolutely amazing. I will absolutely go back on a future trip to Nashville and do the tour etc.
Wednesday was a day I was really looking forward to. My friends and I were selected for the Pink Carpet arrivals for the CMT Awards. That might just be one of the most fun events I have ever participated in. I will say there was a lot of standing around waiting for hours until it was time to get into position. The one drawback was after they had us all set then they let the general public over and they were not following the rules, guidelines which was disappointing. If you ever do it don’t try to take photos of you and multiple friends. At first I thought that would make it easier for the celebrities to take one pic and get us all in but, it wasn’t effective. Truthfully in many ways it would have been better to be across the street where the general public was standing because most of the celebrities ran over there after getting out of their cars. However it was too much fun standing there and seeing who was stepping out of the limos as they pulled up right in front of us. Luke Bryan, Thomas Rhett, Cole Swindell etc. all got out right in front of us. It was so nice to see Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman arrive and they might just be the sweetest couple ever. We were able to get selfie’s with Sam Hunt, Frankie Ballard, Maren Morris, Billy Ray Cyrus & Easton Corbin.
The one thing you will hear me saying through the CMA posts is there is a very clear line between the musicians/celebrities that never forgot that it was the fans that helped to get them to where they are today and the ones that somehow forgot that and acted like they were above fan interaction. I will say that overall Country artists are some of the best when it comes to that and a good 90% were awesome about it all weekend. I will provide examples in the next few blogs on the actual festival with examples of what I am describing on that point.
After we were released we headed into the CMT Awards. This was another fun event that we planned a bit last minute and it was really exciting to be in the room and watch the awards show live, all the interactions the stars had with each other on commercial breaks etc. I really had a great time.
Over the next few days I will post blogs on the actual 4 day CMA Fest! Stay tuned for more!
I was lucky enough to win a meet and greet for the first Raleigh, North Carolina show. He is incredibly nice and what a great experience to meet him in person. Like many country artists, Luke has a fan club entry to win his meet and greets.
I understand why a lot of country artists do this: accessible for all fans vs. only those who can afford it. That makes the process a great thing.
Entering the VIP: You get your ticket, some merchandise (cup, guitar pics, mini-lunch type zip bag) and a 2-3 song acoustic set and some finger snacks. The VIP area is very intimate and Luke performs really well. Hearing “Strip it Down” acoustic was so beautiful…I had goosebumps.
Suggestions for his staff: Number the wristbands given out when you enter and possibly allow groups of 50 in at a time. But when it’s time to enter the acoustic tent area, make them line up in order by bracelet number. That will seriously cut down on the insane running that occurs and keeps it fair, if you get there on time you go in first. Tim McGraw’s VIP staff does that and it works very well. Plus who wants to have to run like crazy to get into an event when you were among the first 20 in line? One other suggestion would be to offer a limited # of VIP tickets for purchase to compliment the fan club meet and greet contest. I know a few friends of mine would love to meet Luke but, have not been lucky enough to win yet and with Luke’s ever growing popularity it will be harder.