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New Orleans’ Essence draws ‘record’ 4bn impressions

Essence Festival – an annual celebration of African-American music at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome (76,468-cap.) in New Orleans – welcomed more than 470,000 attendees to its 24th edition last week, increasing attendance by 25,000 and garnering what organisers call a “record-breaking” four billion impressions on social media.

Complementing a night-time concert series (headliners were Diana Ross, John Legend, Chance the Rapper and Mary J. Blige), the festival once again featured “entertainment, empowerment and cultural experiences” targeted at black Americans, with actress Halle Berry, film director Ava DuVernay, civil-rights campaigner Al Sharpton and spiritual leader Iyanla Vanzant among the more than 100 speakers.

In addition to increasing attendance by ~6%, organisers say posts tagged with the #EssenceFest hashtag drew 4bn+ impressions on social media, with the festival also trending daily on Twitter.

This, say promoters, is a new record – although it should be noted iHeartRadio claimed its 2015 festival generated more than 6.5bn impressions. (New record or not, 4bn social engagements with an arguably fairly niche festival is undeniably impressive.)

Essence Festival is produced by Essence Festivals LLC, a division of Essence Communications (the publisher of the eponymous magazine), and New Orleans-based Solomon Group. Sponsors in 2017 included AT&T, Ford, McDonald’s, Walmart and naming partner Coca-Cola.


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Chance the Rapper leads ‘parade to the polls’

Chance the Rapper – he of buying his own tickets on the secondary market fame – led a crowd of concertgoers to a Chicago polling booth last night to encourage them to vote in the looming US presidential election.

The free show, at the Petrillo Music Shell amphitheatre in Grant Park, was dubbed ‘Parade to the Polls’ and culminated with Chance (pictured) leading the crowd “though rush-hour traffic to the voting site, where a long line of voters [were] already waiting to cast ballots,” reports Fox News. “Chance went inside the polling place and voted.”

Although most polling booths don’t open until today, several were open early. Nearly 1.3 million Illinoisans had cast their votes as of yesterday.

The election, one of the most unpredictable in recent memory, could have far-reaching consequences for the global live entertainment industry. Ocesa, Mexico’s largest concert promoter, told IQ a win by the anti-immigrant Republican candidate, Donald Trump, would be “devastating for the Mexican economy”, with analysts in the US and UK also voicing concerns.


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Chance breaks Cell record w/ tout-busting $25 tix

Chance the Rapper will break the attendance record at the US Cellular Field in Chicago next month when his Magnificent Coloring Day (MCD) festival comes to the 40,615-capacity venue.

The Chicagoan rapper (pictured), who announced the news on social media, made every seat in the stadium available in a bid to compensate those who lost out to ticket touts. He wrote on Twitter: “It has become apparent to me that many people have targeted my cheap tickets to MCD and used me and my fans as a way to make money from music.

“Those people [ticket touts] are just like music labels. Greedy, untalented folks who don’t even like music spending a li’l bit of money early to come up later.”

The newly released seats, which he admits have an “obstructed view”, were sold for US$25.

Magnificent Coloring Day, scheduled for 24 September and featuring performances by John Legend, Lil Wayne, Alicia Keys, Young Thug and Skrillex, is the first live music event to be held at the publicly owned stadium since a 2003 show by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.

Chance the Rapper is an ambassador for the Chicago White Sox, who play at the stadium.


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