Senior entertainment producer
NBC News and Sports
'Today' Is Daytime's Savviest Music Showcase ...
When 18,000 of Chris Brown's fans showed up one July morning for a four-song performance at the "Today" Summer Concert Series, the huge turnout was an indication of the significant viewing audience at home watching the acts that Melissa Lonner has been booking on the show for the last six years. In cases like Brown's, "Today" has actually played an artist development role. "Chris made his first television appearance on 'Today' about five years ago and we wanted him back," Lonner says. "He is an incredible performer." Along with Brown, her bookings in 2011 read like the Billboard 200-Adele, Coldplay, Pitbull, Rihanna, Kenny Chesney, Bruno Mars-but they also included such musical mainstays as Journey and Lenny Kravitz. "Today" targets a key music-buying demographic, 25-54, and that has helped make "Today" No. 1 for more than 16 years, pulling in 5.5 million viewers per show in January, according to Nielsen. Even at No. 1, Lonner's power bookings were key to boosting viewership levels, and this year, she books the summer concert series in London during the Olympics.
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