Universal annoucned their Mardi Gras concert series for 2009 the other day, and the list is as follows:
- Sat., Feb. 6: KC and The Sunshine Band
- Sat., Feb. 13: Heart
- Sun., Feb. 14: Kool & the Gang
- Sat., Feb. 20: Blondie
- Sat., Feb. 27: Dierks Bentley
- Sat., March 6: Akon
- Sat., March 13: Aretha Franklin
- Sat., March 20: Miranda Lambert
- Sat., March 27: 3 Doors Down
- Sat., April 3: Beach Boys
- Fri., April 9: Sheryl Crow
- Sat., April 10: Flo Rida
- Sat., April 17: Chicago
Now compare that to 2009's lineup:
KC and the Sunshine Band
Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons
The Village People
Pat Benatar(featuring Neil Giraldo on guitar)
Boys Like Girls
Am I alone in thinking that this year's lineup is geared to an older group of fans? That was the very first thing that struck me. The Beach Boys? Chicago? Heart? I kind of doubt a Nelly or Kelly Clarkson fan would be able to tell you one song of theirs.
In Milwaukee they hold the World's largest Music Festival called "Summerfest." A few years back they made the decision to change from booking headliner acts like Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake to booking Stevie Wonder, Chicago & Earth Wind and Fire, Bon Jovi and KISS. Why the change? Because they were smart enough to realize that the generation who likes those artists was the one that had the money.
I think Universal is smart in going after the, dare I say, older crowd. Times are still tough, and we all have cut back in our spending habits, but in an article in this week's Time Magazine, it says that more teens have lost their jobs in this recession than they did in the Great Depression. Teen disposable income (which is basically all their income) is drastically down - and they won't be buying your Univeral annual passes to see these concerts any time soon (though they did throw in a couple younger shows to not exclude them entirely). It's much better to entice the generation with money to come back to Universal a few times - sell them an annual pass since it'll pay for itself after a couple visits, then they come back all year, since it's free.
I used to have a Universal Annual pass. You know how many times I went and spent money? Every time. Even if it was just a soda (a $4 soda, I'm sure) - I bought something every time. The adults will go to Margaritaville, Rising Star, Hard Rock, etc, maybe dance at The Groove... plus the adults who come to the theme park repeatedly aren't likely to cause the problems that come with repeat teen visitors.
So who'll play Mardi Gras 2011? Older groups? Younger, newer stars? Or a mix? Only time will tell - but Mardi Gras is obviously part of Universal's strategic plan for annual pass sales and boosting a slow period's attendance (February/March is always a slow time in Orlando until Spring Break hits).