Big events like the Grammys and Billboard’s new MusicCon reflect the music industry’s changing perception of Las Vegas

The Billboard Music Awards show is set to return to Las Vegas on May 15 with a full, live audience for the first time since 2019. Its return will be bolstered by the inaugural Billboard MusicCon, a two-day event with additional performances from the biggest names. music. current stars, as well as panel-style conversations with artists and industry figures and other consumer-facing experiences.

The new event will take over Area15 on May 13-14, and officials at Billboard, the music industry’s media and flagship, say now is the time to expand the impact of the annual awards ceremony.

“We are so happy to be able to do it again in real life, and now to have the chance to grow and make sure there is access to these really special experiences with the best artists, creators and leaders in the world. industry, it’s just great to celebrate music again,” says Dana Droppo, senior vice president of marketing.”[MusicCon] is something we thought about for a long time, but we wanted to make sure that if we did it, we would do it the way we really wanted, live and in person, and with different groups of participants.

Among her scheduled panels are “Women on the Rise: Management 101” with music managers Dina Sahim (Swedish House Mafia), Alex DePersia (Pharrell Williams) and Nelly Ortiz (DJ Khaled); “The Explosion of Afro-Fusion” with rising Nigerian artist Burna Boy; and “The Future of Reggaeton” with Puerto Rican rapper/singer Rauw Alejandro, who just co-hosted the inaugural reggaeton festival Vibra Urbana at the Las Vegas Festival Grounds from April 30-May 1.

“It’s a hybrid event, so if you’re a label executive or you’re managing an artist, you can come sit and listen to conversations that can enrich your career,” Droppo explains, “but if you’re fan of [Brazilian singer] Anitta or Rauw Alejandro, you can come and listen to your favorite artist drop pearls and perform a few songs. It’s really meant to be an experience that balances what’s best for the industry and what’s best for the fans.

The Billboard Music Awards, hosted this year by Sean “Diddy” Combs at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, were first held in Las Vegas at the Hard Rock Hotel in 1996. The event has been held at the Grand Garden Arena 11 times before to move to T-Mobile Arena in 2016 and 2017. It has been held in Los Angeles during the pandemic for the past two years.

Due to the number of great venues on the Strip, Las Vegas has long been a popular destination for music awards shows. But after snagging the Grammys for the first time this year, the city’s position as a music industry stronghold akin to LA or Nashville appears to be improving.

“It was a huge success for us, and we got a ton of positive feedback about not only an incredible array of performances this year, but how we were able to shine a light on some of the less commercial genres through the rooftop performances. of the MGM parking structure,” says Branden Chapman, COO of The Recording Academy. “It was a wonderful experience, and we don’t rule out any possibilities for the future. We were excited to take the show to Las Vegas.

This year’s Grammys event was originally scheduled for Jan. 31 in Los Angeles before rising COVID cases prompted the move to Las Vegas. The show aired live April 3 from the Grand Garden Arena, and the academy was able to continue many of its adjacent annual events at various Vegas locations, including the MusiCares fundraising gala at the MGM Grand Conference Center. .

“The good news is that we’ve been producing the annual Latin Grammy Awards in Las Vegas for several years, so we were very comfortable with the Grand Garden Arena and the crew and crews that help support our productions there.” , said Chapman. “It was a bit of a challenge after we had already started the journey in Los Angeles, but…we found some great partners in places we hadn’t used before, and the [Vegas] the teams are used to producing high level events.

The iHeartRadio Music Festival, which returns to Las Vegas in September at T-Mobile Arena and Area15, isn’t an awards show like the Grammys or Billboards, but it’s similar in that there’s a large concert-style presentation for the public. reinforced by a massive industry presence behind the scenes. And new events like the Emerge Impact & Music conference in 2017 and 2018 found a well-funded launch pad in Las Vegas.

The growth of these types of events demonstrates that Vegas has elevated its reputation as the entertainment capital of the world while diversifying its capabilities.

“It’s a stop on everyone’s tour, and residency has become very common for high-profile artists,” Chapman says. “The world’s superstars are planting roots in Las Vegas.”

Droppo adds that the city’s rich entertainment history and international draw are key reasons the industry wants to be here.

“It’s such a perfect backdrop for musical experiences and performances, and we’re really proud to be part of this long line of amazing things happening there,” she says. “It’s a quintessential American city, and a place that attracts people from all over the world who are willing to really dig into all there is to offer at an event like MusicCon. We think Billboard will be there. there for a long time.

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