Continued from Part 1...

While the residencies mentioned in Part 1 were unmitigated successes, all; they were decidedly aimed at an audience filled with Baby Boomers and Generation X.  It would take a young lady named Britney Spears to signal that the Millennial market had moved to the demographic bullseye for ticket sales, and that this younger generation would plan trips to Las Vegas to see a concert event and then raise the roof in a nightclub while dancing to their favorite EDM artist, often ignoring the casino, altogether.   Spears’ Britney: Piece of Me residency would not occur at the Colosseum, but rather at Planet Hollywood, in what had previously been the Theatre for the Performing Arts and PH Live, but—after a $20 million redesign in preparation for Britney: Piece of Me—reopened as The AXIS (2013-18), then became the Zappos Theater (2018-23), and is now the Bakkt Theater

Britney: Piece of Me (248 shows, 2013-2017) would prove so adept at moving the needle, that Planet Hollywood quickly found itself in the residency business; which was made a bit more facile as—being owned by Caesars Entertainment—Planet Hollywood was under the same corporate umbrella as Caesars Palace (though the Colosseum was operated by AEG Presents Las Vegas, while the AXIS was operated by Live Nation Las Vegas).  Now a new, younger demographic of artists was coming to Las Vegas to do a residency, beginning with Pitbull’s Time of Our Lives (44 shows, 2015-2019), Jennifer Lopez’s Jennifer Lopez: All I Have (121 shows, 2016-2018), the Backstreet BoysBackstreet Boys: Larger than Life (80 shows, 2017-2019), Gwen Stefani’s Gwen Stefani – Just a Girl (57 shows, 2018-2021), and Christina Aguilera’s Christina Aguilera: The Xperience (24 shows, 2019-2020). 

MGM Resorts International got into the residency game in 2016 when the Monte Carlo Resort & Casino became Park MGM; and the Park Theater (now Dolby Live) opened and announced Bruno MarsBruno Mars at Park MGM (41 shows, 2016-2023), then continued with Ricky Martin’s All In (30 shows, 2017-2018), and Cher’s Classic Cher (104 shows, 2017-2020).  Then came Lady Gaga, who may not have shifted the paradigm with her Lady Gaga Enigma + Jazz & Piano residency (52 shows, 2018-2022), so much as she legitimized the form by elevating the level of artistry to such a point that it would be fruitless for anyone to deny that Las Vegas residencies are now where the very best of the best come, and where their fans from all across the globe would travel to see them.  Closing out the decade in the Park Theater were the additions of Aerosmith’s Deuces Are Wild (55 shows, 2019-2022) and Janet Jackson’s Metamorphosis (18 shows, 2019).

But the whole business was about to change again, when the COVID pandemic shut down not only the Las Vegas Strip, but the entertainment business, and pretty much the entire world.

Fortunately, for the residency business, anyhow, Las Vegas would bounce back before most American cities; though, until the full return of the conventions that bring so many millions of people to town each year, the number of visitors to Las Vegas would remain far lower than needed to operate at previous levels. 

Following COVID, the artists being booked for residencies continued skewing toward younger audiences, with a few notable exceptions, like Cher in the Park Theater at Park MGM, and Diana Ross and Lionel Richie, who now both perform (though regrettably, not together) in the Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas, which is the highest-grossing theater on the planet with a capacity under 2,000 people.   Raves Richie, “Playing in the Encore Theater at Wynn allows me to interact with my fans from all over the world.  The atmosphere in that intimate venue, and the love that I receive while playing there, is like no other.”

This new wave of artists and residencies has come to include Usher’s The Las Vegas Residency (16 shows, 2021-2022), Sting’s My Songs (22 shows, 2022), and Adele’s Weekends with Adele (68 shows, 2022-2023), in the Colosseum at Caesars Palace; Jonas BrothersLive in Las Vegas (5 nights, 2022), Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak’s An Evening with Silk Sonic (34 shows, 2022), Usher (again) with My Way: The Vegas Residency (68 shows, 2022-2023), and Maroon 5’s M5LV: The Residency (14 shows, 2023), in Dolby Live at Park MGM; John Legend’s Love in Las Vegas (24 shows, 2022), and Kelly Clarkson’s Chemistry: An Intimate Evening with Kelly Clarkson (10 shows, 2023), in the Bakkt Theater at Planet Hollywood; and Katy Perry’s PLAY (80 shows, 2021-2023), and David Blaine’s In Spades (22 shows, 2022-2023).

Maroon 5’s Adam Levine explains the draw to fans, thusly, “Our fans can expect something that is so different from what we’ve ever done.  They’re gonna get a more intimate look at who we are as a band, and where we’ve come from, and some things we haven’t shared before, making it a more relatable experience.”

As for the appeal to an artist, Katy Perry puts it like this, “With my Vegas residency, PLAY, I can put on a show that I could never truck around the country.  I get to be in the same venue night after night, with larger-than-life props on a stage with the latest and greatest in technology.  People make a real event out of going, and I get to be a part of their weekend-long life celebrations, in a more intimate and interactive way.”

Meanwhile, in the lead-up to her ten-night July-August 2023 residency, Kelly Clarkson positively gushed about the opportunity, saying “I couldn’t think of a better place to get on stage than Las Vegas, because the crowds there are such an amazing collection of people that simply want to have a great time, and that’s what we’re gonna do!  So many of my musical idols have had, and still have, incredible residencies on The Strip, and I’m so excited to create my own!”

Concluded in Part 3...

[Editor’s Note: A version of this article was published in Business Traveler, August 2023 (ink Global)]

A decade later, this article's message rings truer than ever before... Yes, I’m a man. Yes, I wear a lot of jewelry. No, I do not want your oily mitts all over it!