SNOWMASS VILLAGE - If you're a veteran attendee of Jazz Aspen Snowmass' Labor Day Festival, this year's lineup might feel a little different.
Jazz Aspen Snowmass last week announced the headliners for the 18th annual event, including Jason Mraz, Keith Urban and Journey. The acts chosen, and particularly the way they're being scheduled, reflect a change in the way the festival is being programmed.
"We've had great occupancy (in Snowmass Village) the last couple years, but we think we can do better," said Jim Horowitz, Jazz Aspen Snowmass founder and president. "We're trying to develop a substantial base of attendees who are there for all three days."
That goal has led to a change in Jazz Aspen Snowmass' approach to programming over the past two years. In 2011, the festival opened with a night of electronic bands, and attendees that night weren't likely to go any other days, nor were audiences interested in other types of music likely to go opening night, Horowitz said.
Last year and now for the 2013 festival, Jazz Aspen Snowmass is trying to make the schedule feel less broken up across the three days. Last year that translated into more three-day passes sold than ever before, according to Horowitz.
This year the genres are crossing over again, with pop acts Mraz and Train on Friday and Saturday, respectively. Country acts Keith Urban and Little Big Town bookend Train on Saturday. Journey, which formed in 1973 and continues to tour with a new frontman, will close out the weekend.
"There's a reasonable chance that if you find one of these days appealing," you'll probably find a second, Horowitz said.
It has also booked bands that draw a younger audience and have already proven they have appeal in Colorado.
"Certainly it starts to lean younger," Horowitz said. "It's a living, breathing festival, but it has to develop new audiences and new customers. That's how all small businesses survive."
Jazz Aspen Snowmass researches how Colorado audiences have responded to bands in the past. Mraz sold out two nights at Red Rocks Amphitheater, which Horowitz considers the "measuring stick" for music in the region.
"We're really looking at their value in the region ... to try to give us the best chance of driving the most people here who are destination visitors," Horowitz said.
However, he said it's still trying to hold on to its base in the valley. If the event brings in 20 percent more visitors but loses 20 percent of its local crowd, "that didn't really work," he said.
This involves booking artists who haven't before appeared in the valley. The festival will also be the only Colorado stop for Mraz, Train and Journey.
"We really wanted to get artists that haven't been here before," Horowitz said. "That matters to people."
Trying to please everyone is a challenge, Horowitz said.
"The goal is to deliver a program of such consistent high quality that ... the overall quality is unquestioned," he said. "That's what we hope our 23 years of experience leaves people with."
The Westin Snowmass and Wildwood Snowmass will be the official host hotels of the festival, meaning artists will stay there and ticket and lodging packages will be available at these properties. The festival was without a host property last year while the Westin, formerly the Silvertree, was closed for renovation.