StubHub, an online ticket seller, named Richmond No. 9 on its list of America's 20 Most Rockin' Cities for 2008, moving the city up from its previous spot at No. 17.
StubHub, which calls itself "the largest online fan-to-fan ticket marketplace," much like an eBay for music, sports and theater tickets, put together the third annual list based on total ticket sales for concerts from May 15 through Sept. 15. The San Francisco-based ticket seller gives people a chance to purchase tickets from fellow fans, meaning prices are often cheaper than retail.
Although StubHub compiles its rankings based on tickets sold only through its own Web site and not those by services such as Ticketmaster, Richmond's improved place on the list is an indicator of the local music scene's rise. Two local music venues, Toad's Place and the National, are responsible for much of the music talent that visits the city. In the past year, acts including Third Eye Blind and Wu-Tang Clan performed at Toad's Place, and the National hosted Ben Folds and Lifehouse, among others.
The University of Richmond itself also provides opportunities to see concerts. The Campus Activities Board brings musical acts and other types of entertainment to campus, including a big annual concert that last year featured Robert Randolph & the Family Band. Guster has also come many times, said CAB President Mary Margaret Colleary.
CAB does not see events at the National or Toad's Place as a threat to attendance at its events. Josh Huffines, vice president, finance and former music chairman, said these local venues had increased both students and members of the Richmond community's knowledge of what type of music is out there.
"It's definitely heightened the scene and that allows us to bring in bigger acts here, so we can expect to have more people from the community because they're most interested in the music."
Huffines, who is from the area, said "the music scene was dead essentially four years ago," and the emergence of these smaller, local venues had contributed enormously to the success of CAB's concerts.
Both Colleary and Huffines mention that these venues have changed students' expectations of what acts should come to campus. Colleary gave an example of students asking her to bring Girl Talk, a mashup DJ, to Richmond after he came to Toad's Place last year.
Colleary said they took other venues' schedules into account so they didn't pursue the same artists or schedule concerts on conflicting dates, but that there had been no problems so far. She is a supporter of outside venues because they give students another place to go to see live music.
"With our budget we really only have the funds to bring one big concert a year anyway," she said. Colleary added that outside shows put less pressure on CAB to bring entertainment to students.
Besides any shows from the National, Toad's Place and other small, local venues, many of the concerts that moved Richmond up so many places in the rankings took place at Nissan Pavilion, including Richmond's three best-selling acts: The Jonas Brothers, Kenny Chesney and Jimmy Buffet.
This outdoor entertainment venue, in Bristow, Va., is closer to Washington, D.C., than it is to Richmond, but the concerts it held were used for Richmond's ranking.
Vanessa Daniele, StubHub's press contact, explained that because of Virginia's smaller size, every concert went toward Richmond's spot on the list.
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