Jazz Aspen’s Labor Day Experience has sold record number of tickets
Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Experience Lineup
8 p.m.: Daryl Hall & John Oates
6 p.m.: Lake Street Dive
5 and 7:30 p.m.: Darling Din (Outside Music Lounge)
7:30 p.m.: Keith Urban
5 p.m.: Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats
4:15 and 6:30 p.m.: Cale and the Gravity Well (Outside Music Lounge)
3 p.m.: St. Paul & the Broken Bones
7:30 p.m.: Maroon 5
5 p.m.: The Roots
4:15 and 6:30 p.m.: The Merger (Outside Music Lounge)
3 p.m.: The Revivalists
If you don’t already have tickets in hand for the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Experience, you may be out of luck this weekend. This year’s edition of the annual pop music festival at Snowmass Town Park is the fastest- and biggest-selling event in its 22-year history.
VIP passes sold out in spring. Tickets for Sunday’s shows — headlined by Maroon 5, The Roots and The Revivalists — sold out in June, the earliest ever for the festival. Saturday’s concerts — with Keith Urban, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats and St. Paul and the Broken Bones — sold out last week. Three-day passes also went quicker than ever. The entire three-day festival may be sold out by this evening, when Lake Street Dive and Hall & Oates take the stage.
“When the dust settles, this will be one of those where we go, ‘What happened?’” Jazz Aspen president and founder Jim Horowitz said.
Last year, when Stevie Wonder headlined Sunday night of the festival, that day’s tickets sold out the week before. It went on to break the single-day attendance record at the festival with a crowd of 10,500.
In recent years, the festival has typically sold out one of its three days of concerts completely and drawn comparatively smaller crowds for the other two. But in 2017, the entire festival has been a draw. By mid-August, Sunday tickets were going on the secondary market — from ticket brokers and sites like StubHub — for no less than $450 each, a markup of more than 600 percent.
A combination of factors — including the popularity of the lineup and the timing of the lineup announcement — likely contributed to this year’s hot tickets.
Jazz Aspen began announcing headliners in late December — three months earlier than the nonprofit has traditionally unveiled its lineup. Horowitz theorized that those extra months of advance notice inspired both more out-of-towners to plan trips to Aspen for the festival and more fans to go to all three days instead of one.
“Announcing in late December, as opposed to late March, was a game-changer,” he said.
Flight reservations to Aspen and hotel bookings for the long holiday weekend support that idea, according to Bill Tomcich, president of the central booking agency Stay Aspen Snowmass.
“The trends we see are identical,” he said. “We’ve seen an earlier booking pace and more rooms booked up than last year.”
The lineup also is particularly strong and includes a balance of genres, with Rock and Roll Hall of Famers headlining Friday, the world’s most popular country rock star on Saturday and one of the best-selling pop groups closing the fest on Sunday. And the afternoon slots include enormously popular acts like The Roots, The Revivalists and Rateliff that have devoted local and national followings and could have had top billing on their own.
“The lineup has contributed to an earlier sell-out, we know from the people who are booking lodging reservations and flights,” Tomcich said. “It’s no question.”
For Labor Day weekend 2016, occupancy in Aspen and Snowmass Village lodges eventually hit 95 percent. This year, it’s nearing 100 percent and was booked up several weeks earlier than usual, according to Tomcich. It trended about 10 percent higher than average earlier this summer, seeming to track with the early concert sales.
Local music fans and Horowitz have often pointed to the Labor Day festival of 2002, when Bob Dylan headlined, as a turning point that made it a showcase for classic rock acts and top-tier pop artists. This year may be another such pivotal moment.
Horowitz also mused that perhaps, after more than two decades, the brand awareness of the Labor Day Experience has crossed a threshold into being the kind of music festival that will sell out in entirety and in advance on an annual basis.
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