Billboard MusicCon of the Billboard Music Awards

LA VEGASFollowing the trend of publishers becoming event production companies, Penske Media, owned by Billboard held its first Billboard MusicCon, presented by Smirnoff, on May 13-14.

Ahead of the 2022 Billboard Music Awards, the two-day event, held at the immersive entertainment venue AREA15 in Las Vegas, brought together thought leaders, artists and executives for a series of conversations about the evolution of the music scene. Each day of discussions was capped off with an evening of performances by stars such as DJ Brittany Sky and Ty Dolla $ign.

Ty Dolla $ign performed at Billboard MusicCon on May 14. At the end of the concert, the performer jumped off the stage and into the pit to take photos with the fans.Photo: Bryan Steffy/Getty Images for BillboardThe Billboard Music Awards, hosted by Sean “Diddy” Combs, returned with a full in-person audience for the first time since 2019 and aired live May 15 on NBC from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The show had been held in Los Angeles for the past two years.

“We decided to host Billboard MusicCon as an extension of the Billboard Music Awards celebration. Ahead of the awards, Billboard MusicCon highlighted highlights from the past year, rising trends and set the tone for the musical landscape of the year ahead,” explained Mary Rooney, Executive Director of Events and Conferences at Billboard.

As ad-supported print publications seek new revenue streams, it makes sense that brands like Billboard would expand their event offerings similar to other Penske-owned brands. For instance, Variety hosts signature events like its Power of Women luncheon, as well as media summits, and WWD hosts summits and forums for fashion industry executives and senior executives.

While live performances at MusicCon were free, with entry on a first-come, first-served basis, panel discussions were chargeable, with tickets guaranteeing fans early access to concerts. Nearly 7,000 music fans and industry professionals attended the two-day event.

Billboard MusicCon of the Billboard Music AwardsBurna Boy talking onstage during “The Explosion of Afro-Fusion” panel at MusicCon.Photo: Bryan Steffy/Getty Images for BillboardThe two days of programming, produced by Burbank, Calif.-based production company Redrock, featured panels and attendees across a range of musical genres, including “Women on the Rise – Management 101”; “Don’t fuck with Ukraine!” with Ukrainian artist Max Barskih; “The Afro-Fusion Explosion” with Burna Boy; “The Future of Hip-Hop” with Latto; “The Future of Reggaeton” with Rauw Alejandro; and “A Decade of Touring” with Machine Gun Kelly.

“Billboard MusicCon aimed to shine a light on the artists and thought leaders who helped shape the past year in music,” Rooney said, adding that the publication plans to host the event each year. “Artists from all genres, including Burna Boy, Rauw Alejandro, Anitta, Latto and Machine Gun Kelly, took part in exclusive conversations about the changing music scene, highlighting the global impact they each have and how they’re shaping the industry in the coming year.”

As presenting sponsor, Smirnoff offered samples of its new lemonade collection in the Smirnoff Lemonade Lounge, which was produced by integrated marketing agency NVE. Those who entered the lounge had the chance to win experiences and prizes, including tickets to the awards show, VIP meetings with brand partner Ty Dolla $ign, and more. For fans at home, Smirnoff shared a personalized playlist and content.

Guests who attended indoor MusicCon events were required to provide a negative COVID-19 test result or proof of vaccination. Face coverings were also encouraged indoors and outdoors, regardless of vaccination status.

Billboard MusicCon of the Billboard Music AwardsJamaican superstar Shenseea kicked off the first night of MusicCon with a performance packed with tracks from his highly anticipated debut album, ALPHA.Photo: Bryan Steffy/Getty Images for Billboard

Billboard MusicCon of the Billboard Music AwardsZone15 allowed Billboard to animate in-depth conversations with projection mapping, as well as immersive experiences and outdoor concerts.Photo: Bryan Steffy/Getty Images for Billboard

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