This Saturday, March 29, country music will take over Austin for the first-ever iHeartRadio Country Festival happening right here at the Erwin Center! Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line, Eric Church, Lady Antebellum, Hunter Hayes, Carrie Underwood, Jake Owen and Dan + Shay are set to perform at the inaugural festival hosted by nationally-syndicated radio personality Bobby Bones.
We have been anxiously waiting for this event and we are very honored and excited to be the host venue. So how did Austin and the Erwin Center land this awesome gig?
We posed this question and more to Clay Hunnicutt, Executive Vice President and General Manager of National Programming Platforms at Clear Channel Media + Entertainment. Read our interview below!
Why a Country Festival? In your opinion, what is so unique and appealing about this genre of music? How long has this plan been in the making?
Last year we started discussing possible format specific “sister” festivals to our multi-genre iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas and decided for multiple reasons that Country would be the first. It is the format we have the most stations in (120), the music is really, really good and popular, and the Country audience is very broad. It is the one true format that spans [ages] 8 to 80, men and women, with mass appeal and popularity by listeners and advertisers alike.
Tell me about the process of selecting certain artists for this event. How/why were they chosen?
We wanted the biggest in the format and we think we have achieved that. Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan are selling out stadiums all over the country, all the artists have had chart topping album launches in the last couple of years – Eric Church’s recent album sold over 270,000 copies in the first week, Carrie Underwood is clearly a leading lady for Country and entertainment overall, and artists like Florida Georgia Line, Jake Owen and Hunter Hayes are the next generation of stars that are making big impacts now. It’s the perfect mix for the Country format today.
Tell me about the selection process for determining which city would host the first-ever iHeartRadio Country Festival. Did you use a certain criteria each city had to meet? Why was Austin chosen?
It was a pretty easy choice in the end – Austin has a legendary reputation of delivering great music of all kinds. On any given night you can see the best Texas and the whole country has to offer in Austin – it’s an eclectic mix of new, old, cutting edge and traditional flavors from multiple styles of music. Our main criteria was putting the first-ever iHeartRadio Country Festival in a city where music was truly appreciated and a city that had the personal feel that matched the Country lifestyle.
Tell me about the selection process for determining a venue. Why was the Frank Erwin Center chosen?
The Frank Erwin Center has hosted some of the greatest acts of all time. It made sense to be in a building with the infrastructure, support staff and proximity to all things Austin. Plus the Frank Erwin Center has the necessary capabilities to put on a world-class event.
In your opinion, do you think another genre of music will have its own iHeartRadio Festival in the future?
We have been discussing other possible genre shows. None for certain at this time, but the iHeartRadio Festival brand continues to get bigger and we’re always looking for the best ways to expand our offerings. Every show is really about giving listeners and attendees the greatest experience possible and spreading the word about iHeartRadio.
Visit the Frank Erwin Center website to see who's coming, and subscribe to Be the First to Know to get a jump on upcoming pre-sales and ticket giveaways.