All we can say is:
You can look but don’t touch!
Senior Vice President, Marketing and Entertainment at Caesars Entertainment Corporation, Jason Gastwirth, spoke with Forbes magazine about Britney’s current Las Vegas residency. Jason spoke about how Britney reinvented Las Vegas residency and how all artist are now following her footsteps. Check out his interview below:
Steve Baltin: What excited you about Caesars?
Jason Gastwirth: The scale of it and what a great opportunity to roll our entertainment across our entire company. I cover entertainment for all of our properties. There are 40 venues across North America and what I saw was an opportunity for us to have a national, if not international, entertainment business versus before each property was doing its own strategy, still supported by the history of Caesars Palace. At the time I came in, we had this great resident business at the Colosseum, but Planet Hollywood had a relatively dark theater that we didn’t even operate. So we signed Britney Spears, we acquired the theater. Since then, Caesars, as a global entertainment business, is now the third largest promoter of live entertainment in North America. Live Nation, AEG and then us for concerts.
Baltin: Do you do tour routing as well then?
Gastwirth: We do. Our venues largely outside of Vegas are all tour routing. We’ve got everything from an amphitheater in Lake Tahoe, around 10,000 capacity, to theaters of 2,000 and then in Vegas it’s largely resident headliners, but also touring acts. We do thousands of shows a year, but in these resident theaters we’re doing 140 to 200 shows a year of a small set of artists.
Baltin: How do you approach the residencies?
Gastwirth: Our general model is to do three to four shows of an artist, per week, when they’re in residence and we’re able to capture a mid-week crowd, Friday night crowd, Saturday night crowd and it really is a different crowd. I think the difference too is people are coming to Vegas, their primary desire is to experience entertainment, whether it be shows, restaurants, great room products. Right now Celine is there in the Colosseum and Britney is there at the Axis. They’ll do anything from three to five weeks at a time and then we rotate in the next headliner. We’re looking at what’s the demand going to be, roughly 4,000 capacity theaters, so we’re selling 12 to 16,000 seats for them in the same market each week and we have to see where there are those opportunities that we can match supply and demand.
Baltin: Who have been the pleasant surprises?
Gastwirth: Generally the model is if you play larger venues for one-offs then you would go to smaller venues for a residency and I think that ability to do similar, if not larger grosses than the arenas, because you’re in a scenario where fans are able to experience that artist in a more intimate environment, and generally we have a higher price associated with that. For instance, Jennifer Lopez is the highest average ticket price of any concert in North America, and there are certain nights we’re doing million-dollar grosses in a 4,600-capacity theater. For surprises, it was definitely a very exciting phenomenon of Britney performing her residency. Her fans just rallied to come visit her and it got off to a tremendous start and it continues on to this day. When we announced the Backstreet Boys huge excitement, the show is selling beautifully because largest-selling boy band of all time. There’s this element where if the Backstreet Boys are doing a residency with these theaters it’s obviously something very special and the fans have responded to that.
Baltin: Did the success of Britney inspire the BSB residency?
Gastwirth: Yeah, I think what we saw with Britney was obviously her fans going back to the very beginning, but also she did a wonderful job remaining relevant. So with Britney there’s a very wide age demographic that comes to see her show. And interestingly enough you have parents who are now sharing Britney with their kids. With Backstreet Boys that was an interesting one as well because they performed with us just as part of their tour when the Axis first opened and I saw firsthand the level of intensity of those that were at the show. The show was excellent, but these guys also expressed an interest in doing a residency. When we think about obviously major global stars, wide catalog of music, great fan base, but that desire to buy into this model, all of those ingredients were there and, for us, it was just a process of continuing to talk with them and it really happened very naturally. So we are seeing that the fans not only were excited to see them when they were come visiting their city, but this is an event now. This is this idea of planning a trip to Vegas, where to stay, where to eat, all centered around the show and I think that’s why we’re seeing such big and fast sales for this.
Baltin: Who are the acts that would work in the residency format?
Gastwirth: Adele is a great example, three albums in, very dedicated fan base, there is that intensity there and when she wants to do it she’s a great choice. One of the measures we have is can you name them by one name and across the board when you think of Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, these are the pop stars, I even look at the trajectory Ariana Grande has, it’s early for her now. But when you think about multiple album or single releases that are hits, that are exciting performers, if you’re going to play in a theater versus an arena you better be a great performer. And part of it too is we engage this on very early, not for now, but for later. I’m working on resident shows that won’t take place for two or three years just given how far in advance we book out our theaters.
Britney has always been a trendsetter since the day she was born. This news comes to no surprise to the Britney Army. Our Queen is always a leader never a follower. We are very proud of you Britney! You shine bright ALWAYS!