Pop & Hiss
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Macklemore gets exclusive at credit card-sponsored show at Club Nokia

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis perform in Los Angeles for American Express members
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis perform at Club Nokia
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis perform exclusive show

According to credit card companies, exclusion is in.

American Express is embarking on a concert series in select U.S. cities that is offered only to its card members. On Friday night, the series appeared in downtown Los Angeles with a performance by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis at Club Nokia.

The event is part of an intriguing trend in the music industry. Jay Z and Beyonce recently teamed with Chase for their “Mr. and Mrs. Carter Tour.” This partnership allowed Chase debit and credit card members advanced access to purchasing presale tickets.

Club Nokia was packed with card holders of all ages on Friday night. General admission tickets for the event started at $45, and premium access passes were available for $100. Platinum card members could also purchase “By Invitation Only” experiences for an opportunity to meet Macklemore & Ryan Lewis before or after the show.

But does such exclusivity change the concertgoing experience? Not from the perspective of the Grammy-winning Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, who performed a rowdy hour and a half set, featuring two confetti streams and hits like “Thrift Shop,” “Same Love” and “Can’t Hold Us.” The 12-song set also made room for a surprise cameo from hip-hop great Warren G, who performed his hit "Regulate."

And despite being so obviously sponsored, the show was not bogged down with an overabundance of corporate branding. The stage was surprisingly free of ads for its sponsor, and fans carried on in typical fashion.

The general admission section was packed with Macklemore & Lewis' typical crowd of pumped up teens, sporting basketball jerseys and neon T-shirts as on any other summer night. Despite the show's potential impact on credit card statements, fans still remained focused on the show's headliners.

“I think it’s great to be teaming up with artists such as Macklemore & [Ryan] Lewis,” said Michael Rouse, VP and general manager for Membership Rewards and Loyalty Experiences at American Express. “We think that the event and the venue that we have chosen is going to continue to bring in a differentiated experience that we believe our card members will continue to adore.”

This show was a continuation of the series that started with a Lumineers show in New York last fall. Most recently, Pharrell and Usher performed as part of it in New York last month.

The series is set to continue, as American Express announced a couple of Chicago concerts by country band Florida Georgia Line already set for this September and October.   

With these dates already in the works, American Express is looking to increase this series as time progresses. They hope to continue to work their formula of seeking out trendy artists that their card members crave. Rouse believes that because of his company's extended time involved with music, this is attainable.

“I think it is great that we can bring Grammy Award-winning artists to our fans in this type of environment,” said Rouse. “We want to elevate the way fans experience their music.”

As long as desired artists are performing, fans have thus far indicated they're willing come along.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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