By the time he wraps his Sun City Carnival tour at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis Sept. 19, Kenny Chesney will be flirting with his seventh consecutive year of moving a million tickets. Economy or not, the masses are still coming out to see Chesney in 2009.
He is the biggest ticket seller in country music and among the elite touring artists in the world. Since 2002, Chesney has grossed close to $500 million and sold 7 million tickets, according to Billboard Boxscore. Today, Chesney's drawing power and stature among fans is at a peak and shows no sign of waning
So how does he weather the storms of fluctuating markets and fickle fan tastes? Though it sounds deceptively simple, the mantra is to show fans a great time, though accomplishing that means spending more money on production and support, and keeping ticket prices conservative.
Billboard's Ray Waddell caught up with Chesney as the native of Luttrell, Tenn., winds down yet another blowout tour.
So how do you feel now that the goal line is in sight?
Kenny Chesney: We feel really good. I'm exhausted, but it's a good exhaustion, a satisfying exhaustion. We've been working on this tour -- preparing for it, rehearsing for it -- since last October. And that's the kind of cycle of the last eight or nine years. It's a good thing. When we're in front of all those people, when they're taking everything we give to them and giving it back, that's why you do it. That takes away any exhaustion you could possibly have.
What was the mood like in the audience this year?
People are having as good a time as always. It's almost as if they're more appreciative that you're there. We all know, if you watch enough TV, there are a lot of problems in the world, period. I tell the crowd every night that for at least a couple of hours we don't have to worry about solving 'em. And that's about the loudest it gets all night. They don't want to think about it, they don't want to watch CNN, they don't want to hear about health care. They want to play, have fun. That's what I've seen from my perspective.
Is it just as simple as making sure fans have a good time?
The music has to be there first. But they do have a great time. We always try really hard to give people more than their money's worth. I know there is an element of them being able to have some sort of relief in their life. I felt the same way when I'd go to concerts. Not that many came to Knoxville, Tenn., but I was excited when they did because I didn't have to think about anything else other than the music. Why this year arguably has been bigger than other years in these economic times, I can't put a finger on that.