"Over 100k people applied for tickets": Behind the scenes of Kylie's O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire gig

In the latest issue of Music Week, our cover star Kylie Minogue told us all about her brilliant new record Tension, while also taking time out to look back on her storied career so far. 

“I stayed the course,” the star reflected on her trailblazing legacy, specifically with regard to how she has always remained relevant through so many different eras of pop music. “I have always fought for my place.”

Well, the proof is very much in the pudding, folks. For one, the ubiquitous Padam Padam has been everywhere this year, giving the star her first viral hit (“I don’t think any of us expected it to take off the way it did,” Kylie told Music Week. “So I’m going along with the ride!”). 

But nor was that a one-off. It is has already been quite the week for Kylie: Tension started out by not only racing to the top of the album charts, but also outselling the rest of the Top 20 albums combined

Which brings us neatly to another milestone of the campaign this week: on September 27, Kylie is playing the (for her) relatively intimate confines of the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire gig as part of the O2 Priority gig series.  

Here Gareth Griffiths, director, partnerships and sponsorship at Virgin Media O2, talks about how they got Kylie Minogue onboard for the show, and the evolution of the O2 Priority gig series… 

Pictured: Gareth Griffiths, director, partnerships and sponsorship at Virgin Media O2

How did the Kylie Priority gig at O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire come about? Did you seek her out for it, or did her team come to you? 

“When Kylie was announced to play BBC Radio 2 [In The Park event] in Leicester, I saw her new album Tension was being released at the same time, so I hoped she’d be in the UK in September. The date was perfect. I reached out to Emma Banks at CAA and here we are! For our Priority presents shows, timings are everything. We like to work with iconic artists ideally around an album release period. Promoting their new music to our customers alongside an exclusive live show at an O2 venue is a unique combination. Our partners Live Nation and Academy Music Group have also been a huge support for this Kylie show, special thanks to Alex Fairhead and Emma at CAA. Plus Jayd Williams and Amber Mansfield from our music partnership team at O2. It’s so exciting, we really can’t wait!”

What do you think it says about the growth of O2 Priority exclusive gigs that you have an artist of her stature playing such an intimate show?

“It is a privilege to be working with Kylie, one of the greatest pop artists of all time. Demand has been incredible, we had over 100k customers applying for the ticket ballot. O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire is an amazing venue, so to see Kylie performing in this intimate space is going to be very very special. She last played here in 1998 – more than 25 years ago. We’re thrilled to be able to create such a memorable experience for our customers like this through Priority and it shows the quality of artists we work with.”

Aside from just being an amazing intimate experience, what role do you think Priority shows can have specifically for an album campaign?  

“Our Priority gigs offer artists a unique opportunity to connect with their most dedicated fans through our customer base. As O2 and Virgin Media combined as one business, we have customers in 50% of UK homes, either via their mobile connection or TV and broadband. Plus nine million customers are now registered to our loyalty programme, Priority. We have excellent first party data on our customers, and we’re able to communicate with them through their mobile phone, TV, our 400 O2 high street stores and our 21 O2 venues. This direct to consumer model is unique and powerful, with very high engagement. But ultimately the artist has to have a fanbase and the music. Without this there is no campaign or live show.”

Kylie last played Shepherd's Bush Empire in 1998 – more than 25 years ago!

Gareth Griffiths

What are some of the most memorable Priority shows so far? 

“We launched the Priority presents shows with Wizkid at O2 Forum Kentish Town in 2021. That was some atmosphere, as our venues were returning from being closed for 18 months due to Covid, so to see O2 Forum packed out and rocking was fantastic. Then we headed to O2 City Hall Newcastle with Sam Fender, followed by Lewis Capaldi at O2 Academy Glasgow. Lewis’s show in June we, unfortunately, had to postpone, but we’d love to re-visit. And now we’re back to London with Kylie. [It’s all about seeing] incredible artists at very special, intimate UK venues.”

How has the Priority exclusive gigs offering grown in recent years? Roughly how many priority exclusive shows do you put on each year now?

“We’re aiming to do two or three Priority presents shows every year, it all depends on what artists are releasing music and performing live. We have one more show in 2023, and we’re already planning well into next year.” 

Finally what would be your message to managers and labels who haven't tried a Priority exclusive gig as part of a campaign yet?

“We’d love to work with you and we believe we can add huge value to your artist’s campaigns. Feedback from all the shows so far has been really positive, so please do get in touch.”

Subscribers can read the full Kylie Minogue cover story here.

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