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CMA Music Festival sets record

Monday, June 11, 2012 – CMA Music Festival set a new attendance record in 2012 with daily attendance topping 71,000 fans, a 9.2 percent increase over the 65,000 in attendance in 2011 and a sell out for the third consecutive year at LP Field.

The festival was held in Nashville from Thursday through last night.

The increase was attributed to expanded seating at LP Field for the nightly concerts and mild temperatures that drove increased attendance in the free event and concert areas downtown.

"Third time's the charm and to achieve a sell out for a third straight year and increase attendance says a lot about the strength of this event, the dedication of our fans, the support of our industry and local community, and the popularity of our music and artists," said Steve Moore, CMA Chief Executive Officer.

Attendance figures for 2012 include 4-day ticket packages, promotional and single night tickets, as well as attendance in non-ticketed free areas and events. More than 450 artists performed more than 200 hours of concerts. Week-long mild temperatures in Nashville resulted in increased attendance in the numerous free areas including The Buckle, Fan Alley, public events, and concert venues. There was record attendance on Friday and Saturday at Chevrolet Riverfront Park with more than 25,000 fans attending the free concerts throughout each day on the sloping bank of the Cumberland River.

The Nightly Concerts at LP Field featured 38 acts over 4 nights of star-packed shows.

Performing Thursday were Jason Aldean, Glen Campbell, Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert, Brad Paisley, and Zac Brown Band. Hank Williams Jr. made a surprise appearance, joining Paisley on I'm Gonna Get Drunk and Play Hank Williams, his new single. Lauren Alaina and Kellie Pickler delivered acoustic sets.

"I started way back there at the top," said Lambert, pointing to the high seats at LP Field. "How are y'all doing up there? Slowly over the years, I made my way down. I can't tell y'all how much it means to me to be here as an artist with y'all singing back to me."

"The amazing thing about country music is that while it's all about reality, it still has the ability, between our music and beer, to help you forget what you want to forget tonight," said Paisley.

The Band Perry, Brantley Gilbert, Ronnie Milsap, Jake Owen, Blake Shelton and Carrie Underwood performed on Friday. Randy Houser and Gwen Sebastian of "The Voice" performed acoustic sets and the national anthem was performed by the Oak Ridge Boys.

"Nashville, every single person that came from all over the country and the world, don't think I can't love you," said Owen.

Kimberly Perry of The Band Perry told the audience, "You may not know this, but you have changed the lives of my brothers and me. Thank you, to each and every one of you."

Performing Saturday were Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Hunter Hayes, Faith Hill, Little Big Town and Kenny Rogers. Rodney Atkins made a surprise appearance, performing Just Wanna Rock 'n' Roll. Love and Theft and Kip Moore performed acoustic sets and the national anthem was performed by Julie Roberts.

"Nashville! Are you having the night of your life out there?" asked Bryan.

Church made his LP Field debut in 2012. "I just wanted to tell you that I'm having a really, really good time right now," he exclaimed.

The Sunday lineup featured Dierks Bentley, Alan Jackson, The Mavericks, Martina McBride, Scotty McCreery and Rascal Flatts. Little Big Town's Karen Fairchild made a surprise guest appearance with Bentley. Country Music Hall of Fame member Bill Anderson and Steel Magnolia performed acoustic sets and the national anthem was performed by Sarah Darling.

Dedicating his song Home to the fighting men and women of the U.S. armed forces, Bentley said, "When we think about those guys in Afghanistan who traveled west, they fly across that ocean and they see that eastern seaboard for the first time and have that American flag on their sleeve, those guys must be thinking, what's that song? Well, this is Home. Let's sing this song for them."

You guys got me here today, voting me through 'American Idol,' so I owe this to you," said McCreery.

"All I've ever wanted to do since I was four years old was sing," said McBride, who closed the Festival Sunday night. "That's all I wanted and that's all I was good at. And you guys did this for me. Thank you for making my dreams come true."

"Eighty percent of our 4-day ticket holders come from outside of Tennessee," said Moore. "What we are seeing is gains with our locals who are coming out to support our free areas in increasing numbers."

According to the Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau, the direct visitor spending generated by CMA Music Festival in 2011 was $30 million, a $6 million increase over 2010 making the festival the top annual generator of tourist income in Nashville.

"More stages, more music, and more fans. This event outperforms itself every year and at every level and the 'halo' effect lasts all year long," said Butch Spyridon, President of the NCVB.

The festival supports music education in Music City. The artists and celebrities participating in CMA Music Festival donate their time. They are not compensated for the hours they spend signing autographs and performing. In return, The CMA Foundation donates proceeds from the event to music education on the artists' behalf through CMA's Keep the Music Playing program. To date, CMA has donated more than $6.1 million to the cause.

Tickets for 2013 CMA Music Festival, which will be held Thursday through Sunday June 6-9, are on sale now.

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