Thousands of 'Kids In Love': How Kygo Became an Arena Act

DO NOT REUSE
Johannes Lovund
Kygo @ United Center, Chicago

It's not every day that you see a dance act set foot in an arena for a tour, let alone sell out nearly every stop. Enter Kygo, the Norwegian superstar who, at 26 years old, has accumulated well over three billion Spotify streams and collaborated with A-listers like Selena GomezU2 and most recently, Miguel.

He's only had one bona fide radio hit, "It Ain't Me with Gomez (No. 10 on Hot 100), but that hasn't stopped his fans from lining up by the thousands to see him perform on his Kids In Love tour. Myles Shear, Kygo's manager, says "the vision was to create an experience for fans in not only big rooms, but some of the coolest and most historic venues throughout Europe and North America."

While the streaming giant flexed in rooms like Toronto's Air Canada Centre and Chicago's United Center, where the capacities for his shows were 13,541 and 14,039 people, respectively, he also made a conscious effort to provide a more intimate experience in markets such as Washington D.C., where he played back-to-back nights at The Anthem, which holds 6,000 people.

Kygo and his team worked on the tour alongside Omar Al-Joulani, the VP of touring at Live Nation, who says the artist "cemented himself as a serious headliner with arena sellouts in Chicago, Toronto, Brooklyn and Boston, and instant sellout at Red Rocks in Denver."

Each concert brought along a set of special guests and surprise performers such as Alan Walker, Harry Hudson, Justin Jesso (for Kygo's "Stargazing") and many more. The shows also featured a unique fan-generated element brought to life by CrowdSync Technology, an event experience company which supplied attendees with LED wristbands that are programed on the fly to sync up with Kygo's multi-faceted performance.

Al-Joulani adds: "His innovative production, custom X-shaped stage design and, of course, amazing live performance which includes his piano playing, guest vocalists and string ensemble all add up to one amazing show." Kygo's live show experience is not reliant on lasers or hypnotic visuals in the backdrop, nor does it need to be. Instead, he brings it back to the basics by showcasing incredible live performances and creating a one-of-a-kind atmosphere, and then amplifies the experience tenfold.

"Kygo is always breaking boundaries and this tour exemplified his ability to do so, as it's the biggest amount of tickets and largest production we've done," Shear adds. "We have been selective in choosing markets, and Kygo's exposure over the years has enabled us to go into arenas and have such high demand. Having the ability to sell tickets in the 300 seats of an arena means you truly are a special act; for Kygo and I, that is a goal we shared since discussing our first tour."

WME partner and agent Joel Zimmerman, who oversaw the Kids In Love tour alongside WME partner Sam Kirby, adds, "When we started to map out the strategy for this tour, it was clear that this wasn't going to be like anything that had been done before." He continues, "Kygo is one of the most dynamic artists working today, evidenced by his diverse collaborations and rapidly growing global fan base. He speaks to and is a prime example of an artist contributing to the notion of a global culture."

The numbers don't lie, either. Kygo's Cloud Nine album, in addition to "It Ain't Me" with Selena Gomez, went platinum in numerous international markets, including the UK, India and Taiwan. His Cloud Nine LP earned platinum status nine times over in his home country, Norway.

That audience has helped solidify Kygo as one of the few solo dance acts selling out arenas across the world. "From day one, we have built towards him being a live act who moves hard tickets," says Shear. Zimmerman adds that, because of Kygo's global fan base, they "abandoned traditional norms and assumptions" and "allowed the market’s response to actually play a direct real time role in key decision making, whether it was the cities and venues he played or the artists who were his special guests on the tour."