Record-breaking amounts of direct visitor spending this Summer

CMA Fest and July 4th pump millions of dollars in local economy

CMA Fest, July 4 generate record-breaking amounts of direct visitor spending this Summer

NASHVILLE – Nashville’s two largest summer events, CMA Fest and Let Freedom Sing! Music City July 4th, both generated record-breaking amounts in direct visitor spending this past summer, the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp announced today. CMA Fest created $61.2 million in direct visitor spending for its four-day festival, and July 4 brought in $10.8 million for the one-day event. For both events, overall spending per visitor was up this year compared to previous years.

Sarah Trahern, CEO of the Country Music Association, said, “CMA Fest is our opportunity to show the world why Nashville is such a special city, and this year we exceeded our expectations. We welcomed attendees from all 50 states and a record 36 international countries, with fans of all ages more engaged than ever. It truly takes a village to produce such a large event, and we couldn’t make it happen without help from our wonderful partners throughout the City of Nashville.”

Ronnie Smith, Head of Corporate Bank, Regions Bank, who serves as chair of the NCVC board of directors, said: “We are proud of how these events contribute to our local economy and are pleased that both had record years for visitor spending. Let Freedom Sing! has evolved into a celebration that attracts visitors from around the world, and to see this level of return on investment makes a huge statement about the success of this event.”

CMA Fest remains Nashville’s largest annual tourism event and produces the highest level of direct visitor spending of any tourism event held in Nashville. Visitors include both ticketholders to the nighttime concerts at Nissan Stadium, as well as non-ticketholders who attended free concerts during the day and free nightly concerts at Ascend Amphitheater. The 2018 event, which took place June 7 to 10, saw an uptick in visitor spending over 2017’s $57.7 million in direct visitor spending and outpaced the previous record of $60.4 million at the 2015 event. This year’s increase also is attributed to a slightly higher share of out-of-town visitors who attend CMA Fest.

Nashville’s July 4 concert and fireworks show, the city’s largest single-day event, saw an increase over 2017’s $8.1 million in direct visitor spending. The previous record for visitor spending for July 4 was $9.2 million in 2015. Direct visitor spending is calculated based on only the number of people visiting the city for the event itself; this year 61 percent of visitors who attended the July 4 event said the concert and fireworks show were the primary reasons for their visit to Nashville, up from 51 percent last year.

For both events, a growing share of visitors opted to stay in short-term rentals, making them the second choice behind hotels. Formerly, staying with friends/family was the second most popular accommodation for visitors going to the events.

For CMA Fest, 67 percent of visitors stayed in hotels; 15 percent in short-term rentals; and 11 percent with friends/family. For July 4, 70 percent used hotels; 13 percent used short-term rentals; and 10 percent stayed with friends/family.


About CMA Fest 2018

The 47th annual CMA Fest drew tens of thousands of fans to the nightly concerts at Nissan Stadium, capacity crowds at the Chevy Riverfront Stage and the Cracker Barrel Country Roads Stage at Ascend Amphitheater, and the largest engagement by Country Music fans in the event’s history.

The longest-running Country Music festival in the world took over downtown Nashville with more than 350 acts performing on 11 official stages and ticket proceeds going directly to helping enrich and sustain music education programs across the country through CMA’s nonprofit arm, the CMA Foundation, thanks to every artist at the festival donating their time. The festival was filmed for a three-hour ABC special, “CMA Fest,” marking the 15th consecutive year of the broadcast.


About Let Freedom Sing! 2018

Let Freedom Sing! was named in CNN’s roundup of Best Places to Watch Fireworks on July 4th, and MEAWW included Nashville on their roundup of The 10 Most Spectacular Independence Day Fireworks Displays that you really should be at this 4th of July.

The Let Freedom Sing! event featured GRAMMY-winning trio Lady Antebellum with a lineup that included Grand Ole Opry member Chris Janson, whose hits include “Buy Me a Boat” and “Fix a Drink;” pop artist Lucie Silvas; and R&B producer, musician and artist Shannon Sanders, along with Andrew Combs, Jason Eskridge, Katie Schecter and Kid Politics. Attendees enjoyed one of the largest fireworks shows in the country synchronized to the music of the Nashville Symphony.


Country Music Association

Founded in 1958 and celebrating its 60th Anniversary in 2018, the Country Music Association is the first trade organization formed to promote a type of music. In 1961, CMA created the Country Music Hall of Fame to recognize artists and industry professionals with Country Music’s highest honor. More than 7,400 music industry professionals and companies from around the globe are members of CMA. The organization’s objectives are to serve as an educational and professional resource for the industry and advance the growth of Country Music around the world. This is accomplished through CMA’s core initiatives: the CMA Awards, which annually recognize outstanding achievement in the industry; CMA Fest, which benefits the CMA Foundation and music education and is taped for a three-hour network television special, “CMA Fest”; and “CMA Country Christmas,” featuring Country artists performing original music and Christmas classics for broadcast during the holiday season. All of CMA’s television properties air on the ABC Television network through 2021.


The Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp

The mission of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp is to maximize the economic contribution of the convention and tourism industry to the community by developing and marketing Nashville as a premier destination. Visit the NCVC’s website at and follow us on social media: