Vans Warped Tour founder plans country tour

Kevin Lyman meets with labels in Nashville

NASHVILLE -- Vans Warped Tour co-founder Kevin Lyman plans to launch a similar tour for the country genre, and has opened an office of his 4fini Prods. in Nashville to put the tour together.

Lyman, who has also launched the Rockstar Taste of Chaos and Rockstar Mayhem tours, now has his sites set on a similar model for country -- a multiact, multistage, sponsor-driven tour with heavy label involvement and a conservative ticket price.

Lyman's team visited Nashville in January and started meeting with labels, managers and agents on an exploratory trip, and interest was high. "Everyone was saying the time is right," he said. 4fini execs Sarah Baer and Kate Truscott have relocated to Music City from Chicago, and former Clear Channel online music manager Allison Skiff has joined the Nashville team.

The first version of the yet-to-be-named tour will go out in summer 2010. "We want to customize what we've been able to do with Warped (in the punk genre), and last year with Mayhem in metal," Lyman said. "We invested a lot of time with the metal labels before we put that tour into motion, and we've put a lot of time into this (new) project."

The inaugural country tour will probably book about 13-14 acts and 10-12 singer/songwriters, Lyman said. He also envisions targeted ancillary events with other exhibition partners, and action sports exhibitions. "It's very wide open. We're not down to those details yet, but we're not discounting anything," Lyman said.

Promoter Live Nation works with Lyman on the Mayhem tour, and Lyman said a similar model would be likely for the country tour. "There is a commitment from them to support if we can put the right project together," he said. Baer and her team are actively seeking sponsors for the country tour and Lyman said they're already garnering interest.

Meanwhile, Warped had its strongest Internet presale ever, up 48%, from 24,000 to over 35,000 this year, according to Lyman. "Now it's selling like the Warped tour, but we've got a pretty good head start," Lyman said, attributing the increase to a more coordinated digital marketing effort. "Mayhem presales are also up quite a bit, which might be attributed to more brand awareness."