The 30th annual Pollstar Awards, hosted by rising stand-up sensation Bert Kreischer, wrapped the Pollstar Live! conference that had massive star power with the likes of Dave Grohl, Khalid, and George Clinton speaking and providing insights into the live business from an artist’s perspective. The three-day event was attended by more than 2,000 music industry stakeholders, surpassing 2018's record-setting year to become the largest live music industry conference. Held February 13 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, the awards honored tours, promoters, agents, venues, artists, managers and others who shaped the world of live entertainment in 2018 and Ed Sheeran, ÷ Tour was one of the night’s big winners for “Major Tour of the Year.” Additional honorees include, Foo Fighters, Concrete and Gold Tour 2018 for “Best Rock Tour,” Beyoncé & Jay-Z, On The Run II Tour for “Best Hip-Hop/R&B Tour,” Taylor Swift, Reputation Stadium Tour for “Best Pop Tour,” and Greta Van Fleet for “Best New Headliner,” among others (see the full list of Awards winners below).
While predominantly remaining an industry peer-voted honor, for the first time Pollstar weighed actual box office performance (gross revenue and ticket sales) as factors in determining winners for many awards. New categories were also added this year, which included “Best Residency” awarded to Bruce Springsteen, Walter Kerr Theatre; “Best Support/Special Guest” with Kacey Musgraves for Harry Styles: Live on Tour winning; “Best Non-Music Tour” going to Becoming: An Intimate Conversation With Michelle Obama; “Best Brand Partnership” which went to Nationwide Insurance w/ Brad Paisley; “Best Touring Musician” with Elton John winning; and “Best Attraction” going to America.
To recognize the important philanthropic contributions of the live entertainment industry, Pollstar debuted the “Music Unites” award, which this year went to Music for Relief, founded by Linkin Park, and now Entertainment Industry Foundation’s official crisis relief program.
Production Live! kicked off the annual gathering taking on the production side of the industry, with topics on technologically-enhanced live events, maximizing rehearsals, the latest technology in sound, lights and video, and more, delivered from tour managers, production managers, lighting directors, stage managers, and touring professionals, including production director Jake Berry who worked on tours for U2, the Rolling Stones, Beyoncé and Mötley Crüe, to name a few.
At the Pollstar conference, Grohl and Live Nation Entertainment President/CEO Michael Rapino joined a stellar lineup of artists and industry executives who spoke at Pollstar Live!, including rising R&B superstar Khalid and manager Courtney Stewart, founder of Right Hand Music Group, who participated in the keynote case study Q&A titled "How To Build A Superstar"; a conversation with funk icon George Clinton; My Morning Jacket front man Jim James; Motley Crue/Sixx AM's Nikki Sixx; as well as a group of the most respected touring musicians in the world, the latter for a panel offering their perspective in a session titled "I'm With The Band," moderated by RocNation's Tamara Conniff.
Further enhancing the Pollstar Live! panels were industry executives, Arthur Fogel, Chairman of Global Music & President of Global Touring, Live Nation Entertainment; Louis Messina, CEO, Messina Touring Group; Alissa Pollack, EVP, Global Music Marketing; Bozoma Saint John, CMO Endeavor; Nederlander’s Alex Hodges; and numerous agents and executives including Paradigm’s Marty Diamond, Rob Prinz of ICM Partners, David Zedeck of UTA, WME’s Michele Bernstein, and many others.
The 30th annual Pollstar Awards winners:
Major Tour of the Year: Ed Sheeran | ÷ Tour
Best Rock Tour: Foo Fighters | Concrete and Gold Tour 2018
Best Hip-Hop/R&B: Beyoncé & Jay-Z | On The Run II Tour
Best Pop Tour: Taylor Swift | Reputation Stadium Tour
Best Country Tour: Chris Stapleton | Chris Stapleton’s All-American Road Show Tour
Best Latin Tour: Shakira | El Dorado World Tour
Best Comedy Tour: Kevin Hart | The Kevin Hart Irresponsible Tour
Best Support/Special Guest: Kacey Musgraves | Harry Styles – Harry Styles: Live
Best Residency: Bruce Springsteen | Walter Kerr Theatre
Best Attraction: America
Best Non-Music Tour of the Year: Becoming: An Intimate Conversation With Michelle Obama
Best New Headliner: Greta Van Fleet
Music Festival Over 30K Capacity: Coachella | Indio, CA
Music Festival Under 30K Capacity: Newport Folk Festival | Newport, RI
Nightclub of the Year: 9:30 Club | Washington, D.C.
Theatre of the Year: Ryman Auditorium | Nashville, TN
Arena of the Year: Madison Square Garden Arena | New York, NY
Best Outdoor Concert Venue: Red Rocks Amphitheatre | Morrison, CO
Best New Concert Venue: The Rooftop at Pier 17 | New York, NY
Venue Executive of the Year: Laurie Jacoby, Madison Square Garden
Talent Buyer of the Year: Stacy Vee, Goldenvoice
Bill Graham Award-Promoter of the Year: Louis Messina, Messina Touring Group
International Promoter of the Year: Barrie Marshall, Marshal Arts Ltd
Bobby Brooks Award - Agent of the Year: Marty Diamond, Paradigm Talent Agency
International Booking Agent of the Year: Emma Banks, Creative Artists Agency
Booking Agency of the Year: Paradigm Talent Agency
Rising Star: Lesley Olenik, Live Nation
Personal Manager of the Year: Coran Capshaw, Red Light Management
Road Warrior: Gus Brandt | Foo Fighters, Pharrell Williams/NERD, Conan O’Brien
Best Production/Transportation Company: Upstaging, Inc.
Best Brand Partnership/Live Campaign: Nationwide Insurance w/ Brad Paisley
Best Touring Musician: Elton John
Marketing/PR Exec: Allison McGregor, Creative Artists Agency
Best Hang: Austin City Limits Music Festival
The Lifer: Frank Riley, High Road Touring
The Unavailable Award: Bob Roux, Live Nation
Most Frequently Name-Dropped: Michael Rapino, Live Nation
The Back In My Day: Ron Delsener, Live Nation
Most Dreaded Phone Call: Irving Azoff, Full Stop Management
Most Terrifying Agent: Marsha Vlasic, Artist Group International