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Mocktails & Sober Spaces: Inside the Concert Biz’s Push for Inclusivity (And More Revenue)

Mr. Nimbus | 01/24/2024

As alcohol consumption declines among young adults and awareness about the mental health benefits of sobriety grows, nonalcoholic cocktails could prove key to finding new food and beverage revenue for the concert business.

In 2023, CMA Fest, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Danny Wimmer Presents’ Louder Than Life and Bourbon & Beyond were among a dozen festivals to include mocktails and sober spaces at their events; Live Nation introduced the “no-jito” to its venue menus; and Oak View Group launched an elevated nonalcoholic beverage program at its Acrisure Arena in Palm Desert, Calif. And while conventional wisdom held that nonalcoholic drinks beyond soda and water would diminish alcohol sales, venues are finding that’s not the case.

“Since launching the mocktail program, our alcohol sales have remained steady, and overall beverage sales have increased by a margin that we are very pleased with,” says Daniel Griffis, president of global partnerships at Oak View Group. It has gone so well that OVG plans to start rolling out the program at other venues.

After launching in October in the premium level and expanding to the entire arena in January, Acrisure has sold more than 2,000 mocktails at $14 each — including the Blackberry Smash and the Firebirds Spritz, which use Lyre’s nonalcoholic spirits — says John Page, senior vp of Acrisure Arena, AHL team Coachella Valley Firebirds and OVG360 Facilities. “There have been a lot of positive comments that we are recognizing people that want to really experience the live event and have something different in terms of the beverage space, not soda or water,” he says. “This is one way that we can continue to show that we are aware and we have something for everyone in the venue.”

These activations were all launched in partnership with the nonprofit Stand Together and its 1 Million Strong initiative founded with sober community The Phoenix. They follow an open letter published in Billboard in January 2023 that featured 50 music industry leaders pledging support to 1 Million Strong.

“What I am excited to see, a year after, are those people actually doing it,” says Colette Weintraub, head of Stand Together Music, Sports & Entertainment.

At Live Nation, the initiative has brought a new corporate focus as well. Last May, the concert giant launched its Sober Nation program focused on fostering sober-inclusivity and destigmatizing addiction at their venues and offices. On Jan. 30 the company will host a Grammy-week brunch with 1 Million Strong and DMC of Run-DMC to raise awareness among staff and connect employees to available recovery and mental health resources.

For an industry that places a lot of emphasis on alcohol — from beverage sales to alcohol sponsors — Weintraub says the initiative has received a warm welcome so far. “We’re not saying ‘sober music industry,’ ” she says. “We’re saying this is an opportunity to expand and open the doors to more people and let more people participate in what’s important in life and supporting more people in achieving their full potential.”

This post was originally published on this site

Written by Mr. Nimbus

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