CLEVELAND — Cleveland is known to many as the “birthplace of Rock and Roll.” Yet, many of music’s biggest stars have been bypassing the city recently.
Big names, like Taylor Swift, Beyonce and Metallica left Cleveland dates off of their 2023 world tours. In 2022, only 8 of the year’s top 25 highest-grossing artists stopped in Northeast Ohio. It’s down from previous years.
“They’re like, ‘If we’re playing arenas now or stadiums, they’re like the same as a World Series.’ People are bidding on them to play their place because it’s an attraction,” said James Carol, the Talent Buyer for The Beachland Ballroom and Tavern in Cleveland’s Collinwood neighborhood.
He explained skipping Cleveland could make financial or logistical sense for artists. Detroit, Pittsburgh and Columbus are all within three hours of the city, so some music acts may expect Cleveland fans to make the trip to one of the nearby cities.
Others may be strategically stopping in certain cities one year and not the next.
“If you have Beyonce play here once a year, the attraction to it doesn’t work as well as having Beyonce play here every other year or every 3 years or whatever,” Carol said. “All these artists are looking at this business like a business.”
Friday night, a line was forming ahead of several performances at The Beachland Ballroom and Tavern. Indie pop artists lovelytheband was playing at the venue’s larger stage. The smaller, front stage was hosting several acts, including local band Radderall.
“Cleveland will value new bands over the same old same old, which is cool. I think that’s how we got to break into the scene a little bit,” said Zach Taneyhill of Radderall.
The bandmates agreed Cleveland’s venues like The Beachland consistently bring in large crowds and there’s no shortage of local talent to fill the stages.
“The built-in crowds coming into Beachland Tavern, they’re just like, ‘We’re just here and it turns out this artist is coming through.’ Maybe they didn’t know about them and now they do,” said band member Jonny McAllister.
Carol believes Cleveland is still on artists’ radar and relevant for both big and small acts. Some think the smaller venues and local music are what make the city noteworthy.
“It’s probably a big money maker for the city to have those big shows,” Radderall’s Warren Davidson said. “But for the culture of Cleveland it’s probably a good thing to keep it smaller level, close-knit, focused on that.”
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