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CMA fest sets attendance record

Monday, June 10, 2013 – CMA Music Festival set a new attendance record with daily attendance topping 80,000 fans, a near 13-percent increase over the 71,000 in attendance in 2012 and a sellout of LP Field tickets 6 weeks before the event.

The increase was attributed to expanding the event into the new Music City Center. The new venue nearly tripled the size of the former space in the Nashville Convention Center creating room for new exhibits, additional stages and attractions for families in the Keep the Kids Playing Pavilion.

"This event has a global reputation as the destination for any country music fan," said Steve Moore, CMA Chief Executive Officer. "The support we receive from our industry and the dedication of our fans is unduplicated. Each year we strive to improve and enhance the event for our attendees and the artists - and this is undeniably our best CMA Music Festival ever."

Attendance figures include 4-day ticket packages and promotional tickets, as well as attendance in Fan Fair X and free areas downtown. More than 450 artists and celebrities participated in more than 200 hours of concerts on a record 11 different stages.

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 opening day at Chevrolet Riverfront Stage with more than 44,000 fans passing through the gates for the free concerts on the sloping bank of the Cumberland River. Crowds for the new Transitions Performance Park were strong and attendance at the Bud Light Stage on the Bridgestone Arena Plaza increased over 2012.

CMA Music 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. As a result, The CMA Foundation donates proceeds from the event to music education on the artists' behalf through CMA's Keep the Music Playing program. Since 2006, CMA has donated more than $7.6 million to the cause.

Festival attendees came from all 50 states and two dozen countries, including Australia, Austria, Canada, Chile, China, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Holland, Honduras, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates and the U.K.

CMA continued its practice of interacting with fans through digital and social channels at the 2013 CMA Music Festival. Visits to the official web site, CMAfest.com, spiked 35 percent over 2012.

CMA's total aggregate digital audience has reached 1.9 million fans, growth of 36 percent from the 1.4 million in June 2012.

The Ninth Annual CMA Music Festival Kick-Off Parade on Wednesday with Kix Brooks served as Grand Marshal.

Following the procession, the fun kicked into high gear with The Eighth Annual CMA Music Festival Block Party. Fans gathered at the Chevrolet Riverfront Stage for the kick off with The Henningsens followed by Brazilbilly, The LACs, and The Cadillac Three. Lyndsey Highlander performed the national anthem. Joe Diffie sang Pick Up Man with his nine-year-old daughter, Kylie.

Autograph signings, concerts, lifestyle exhibits, marketplace and live broadcasts were held in the Music City Center. Lady Antebellum kicked it off on Thursday with an official ribbon cutting, acoustic performance, and Q&A session with the fans, hosted by Lorianne Crook.

"Welcome to Nashville, everybody!" said Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum. "We just want to say how honored we are to be a part of this. It's such a huge moment, not only for country music and CMA, but for Nashville as a city. This Music City Center is just state-of-the-art and gorgeous - and we get to be a part of the grand opening."

A record-breaking 65,000 visitors passed through the turnstiles into Fan Fair X throughout the festival. The number of artists signing autographs and performing on the stages was 393, exceeding 2012's figure of 254.

The number of artists signing in CMA Central, CMA's signature headquarters, led to some unique photo ops for fans, such as when Little Big Town met and posed for photos with Kristian Bush. Brenda Lee and Jean Shepard crossed paths and ended up agreeing to sit and briefly sign autographs together.

Highlights at the CMA Close Up Stage included The Oak Ridge Boys singing Amazing Grace a cappella at the '70s Heritage Panel; Randy Travis introducing a song he had recorded as a tribute to George Jones and playing it for Nancy Jones during a panel in tribute to the legend who passed away in April; and an acoustic performance and question-and-answer session with Wynonna.

Blake Shelton made a surprise appearance at the Pepsi Music Experience where he played a variation of "Pictionary" with attendees.

The Nightly Concerts at LP Field featured 62 performers spanning four nights of star-packed shows.

Pre-show activities Thursday included The Oak Ridge Boys performing the national anthem. Performing were Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Miranda Lambert, Taylor Swift, and Zac Brown Band. The audience also enjoyed a heritage performance from Tracy Lawrence. Surprise guests for Thursday night's show included Kid Rock, Tim McGraw and Kenny Rogers.

Hunter Hayes, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Kip Moore and Shelton performed on Friday. Travis was the heritage act of the evening and Gloriana performed the national anthem. Special guests on Friday included Sheryl Crow, who performed with Little Big Town and Jason Mraz, who joined Hayes.

Moore used the occasion to share a memory with the stadium audience. "I played some songs for a bigwig producer," he recalled. "He showed me what I was up against and told me to pack my stuff up and go home. I was polite, I thanked him and said, 'To hell with that, I ain't goin' nowhere.' And now I'm playin' for y'all at CMA Fest."

Dierks Bentley, Kelly Clarkson, Florida Georgia Line and Keith Urban performed Saturday. The Oak Ridge Boys returned Saturday to perform and Brett Eldredge sang the national anthem. Jason Aldean, Lenny Kravitz, and Trisha Yearwood were surprise guests.

Severe storm threats shortened sets on Sunday with a lineup featuring Gary Allan, The Band Perry, Jake Owen, Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood. Lee Greenwood was the heritage act and Lorrie Morgan and Pam Tillis joined musical forces to perform the national anthem. Charlie Daniels joined Paisley for his performance; and Lennon and Maisy of the hit ABC series "Nashville" also performed. Owen was limited to performing one song.

At the Chevrolet Riverfront Stage, Sara Evans opened before 44,000. During the festival, 40 acts performed 30 hours of concerts over the 4 days including a surprise appearance by Hayes on Friday. More than 162,000 fans passed through the gates to watch the performances at Chevrolet Riverfront Stage.

The festival was filmed for a 3-hour television special "CMA Music Festival: Country's Night to Rock" airing Monday, Aug. 12 at 8 p.m. eastern and hosted for the first time by Little Big Town.

Tickets for 2014 CMA Music Festival, which will be held Thursday through Sunday, June 5-8, are on sale now and selling 52 percent ahead of this time last year.

"The pace of the advance ticket sales speaks to the strength of the event, the popularity of our music, and the experience that our fans had at this year's CMA Music Fest," said Moore.

Fans can order tickets by calling the CMA Box Office at 1-800-CMA-FEST (262-3378) or Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000. To purchase tickets online, visit Ticketmaster.com.

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