President of Entertainment | Hard Rock International and Seminole Gaming
The year has posed challenges to all in the live events business, but organizations with strong brand recognition, offering premium experiences and top-notch customer service have more than likely done better than most. Hard Rock is a perfect example.
“Despite economic signals in other business sectors that might suggest that discretionary spending is starting to normalize, we at Hard Rock aren’t experiencing any slowdowns in the ticketed event space — regardless of region, size of event or genre,” said Keith Sheldon, who oversees entertainment at Hard Rock International and Seminole Gaming. “As we approach 2023, we remain cautiously optimistic that the fierce demand for great events will continue to trend favorably.”
Hard Rock Live in the last couple of years has seen new high-end venues come online, including a 6,500-seat theater at its flagship Hollywood, Florida, location, a new Hard Rock Hotel in Manhattan with a 500-capacity, two-level ballroom, and a 3,000-capacity Hard Rock Live in Sacramento.
“Particularly in the live music space, I think we’re still enjoying the fruits of pent up demand coming out of COVID, that is being matched by the incredible supply of great touring artists across all genres and demos,” Sheldon says, mentioning late 2021 underplays in South Florida with the likes of Metallica and The Rolling Stones followed by major shows with artists including Billy Joel, Elton John, Paul McCartney and more.
“Also in South Florida, our partnership with the F1 Miami Grand Prix and the creation of the trackside viewing and music experience called Hard Rock Beach was another huge success,” Sheldon said, with the three-day race supplemented by music from artists including Post Malone, Maluma, The Chainsmokers, Tiësto, Zedd, Cedric Gervais, and Blxst. “We’ll certainly look to build on this lineup in future years,” he said.
Sheldon notes upcoming Hard Rock projects including its announcement to purchase the Mirage Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, plans to build an integrated resort in Athens, Greece, and a new casino project in Bristol, Virginia.
“It’s not a new trend, but venue flexibility is perhaps more important than ever,” Sheldon says of the modern live experience. “Event opportunities have expanded beyond the traditional stick-and-ball sports and end-stage concerts; production elements for tours have been amplified; show sponsors want spaces to activate; and fans and artists alike want to enjoy sold-out environments.”