Garth Brooks today was named the first inductee to the just-announced Live Hall of Fame at a lively keynote Q&A session at Pollstar Live! In Los Angeles moderated by OVG CEO and co-founder Tim Leiweke. The session also included co-panelists Ticketmaster president Jared Smith and David Kells from Bridgestone Arena.
“It’s a total shock and quite an honor,” Brooks said upon accepting his award before a packed ballroom. “I don’t think an entertainer is anything without other people who allow him to do this,” he said before thanking his co-manager Bob Doyle and Ben Farrell his longtime promoter. “They have made my career possible,” he said
The honor follows Brooks’ record-setting, three-year tour in which he sold over 6.3 million tickets making it the biggest North American tour and biggest ever by a solo artist. Brooks, who returned to the road after a 16-year absence, is also the first artist to receive seven RIAA Diamond awards for albums sales of over 10 million per album and the No. 1 selling U.S. solo artist with over 148 million albums sold.
“In discussing it with all of our folks,” Leiweke said, “there was only person who we thought ultimately had to be the first inducted into the Live Music Hall of Fame and that was Garth Brooks.”
Indeed Brooks’ innovative approach to touring includes keeping ticket prices at one affordable price and adding shows (sometimes more than one a day!) from the road—all but unheard of for an arena tour.
“Ticketmaster’s worked with Garth for over 20 years and it’s been a phenomenal partnership,” Ticketmaster’s Smith told Pollstar. “He’s always working on new and better ways to ensure tickets get into the hands of fans, and makes an effort so that all fans get a chance to see him.”
His record-setting tour was capped by seven sold-out shows at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena and which the Tennessean itself cited as cause for Music City’s own-record breaking tourism numbers.
“It’s such a rush being on the call with [his team] as we rolled from show to show,” Bridgestone’s Kells said. “Everyone on the arena side was waiting to see how many shows would be added and followed the fan excitement on Twitter after every show announcement.”
Other recent accomplishments include Brooks in November winning his sixth CMA Entertainer of the Year honors (a feat never before achieved) and in December his single “Ask Me How I Know” becoming his 20th chart topper.
Today’s panel also included a surprise birthday cake and sing-a-long as Brooks yesterday celebrated his 56th birthday (it also happened to be Smith’s birthday, too).
In explaining the Live Music Hall of Fame, Leiweke said him and his team had wanted to “create a place to honor artists who have made a huge impact on the live business.” He went on to cite other comparable industries: “The Recording Academy has the Grammys, the movie business has the Academy Awards,” he said, “but we in live don’t do enough to honor the artists who have changed our industry. The artists who have gone out and touched tens of millions of fans. So we are creating a new tradition here at Pollstar that is vitally important for our industry and a priority for us going forward and that is a Live Music Hall of Fame.”
The Pollstar Live! conference closes out tonight with the 29th annual Pollstar Awards presented at The Wiltern and hosted by Matt Franco.