President of Country Touring
Twitter: @boccountry 
POWER MOVE: Developed country music “season ticket” for fans, playing a huge role in country’s live success.
THE RUNDOWN: When it comes to artist development and building headlining careers, country is clearly the hot spot of the live music business, and Brian O’Connell is country music’s top talent buyer. Handling six headlining tours in 2012 while launching the Watershed Festival at the Gorge in George, Wash., O’Connell also kept busy setting up nine more tours, plus another new festival, for this year.
Live Nation country tours mounted in 2012 included Rascal Flatts, Brad Paisley, Toby Keith, Jason Aldean and the amphitheater runs of Miranda Lambert and Lady Antebellum. Four of those performers -- Aldean, Lady A, Paisley and Rascal Flatts -- ended up among the top 25 tours of the year, grossing a combined $140 million, according to Billboard Boxscore.
O’Connell works his client chain like so: In Aldean’s first year as a headliner, 2011, he grossed $28 million and sold about 800,000 tickets. During his second year, with Luke Bryan in the second slot, Aldean upped his take to $40 million and nearly 1 million tickets sold. This year, Aldean added sold-out stadiums to his route, while Bryan will play amphitheaters on his own headlining tour.
O’Connell’s development of the Megaticket promotion -- basically a “season ticket” for country fans in a given market, so they can hold onto the same seat for anywhere between four and 10 shows -- played a huge role in country’s live success. The Megaticket “exposes the fans to more acts and creates a sense of community, which is what I preach every day,” O’Connell says. “We want our new acts to play in front of as many people as they possibly can.”
Brian O'Connell photo by Robby Klein