On June 27, Beale Street's Handy Park was the kickoff venue for a 24-hour event that involved MTV, Performa Entertainment, the Memphis & Shelby County Film and Television Commission, a Guinness World Record, The Flaming Lips and plenty of local businesses.
Viacom's "O Music Awards" honors leaders of digital culture and 24 of them were handed out over the 24 hour period that saw The Flaming Lips perform eight times in eight places from Memphis to New Orleans.
Read more about the Memphis kickoff in The Commercial Appeal's story here by Bob Mehr.
Jon Shivers of Performa said some of the local companies that participated in the event were Black Lion Security, TNT Sound, MFG Promotions, Night Train Productions and Budweiser of Memphis.
"Having MTV select Memphis and Beale Street to kick off their 'O' Music Awards was huge for Beale Street and huge for the City of Memphis," Shivers says. "All of downtown and many parts of Memphis were abuzz the day of the show. Beale Street's normal crowd on a Wednesday is pretty good usually but adding in having MTV on the street made that Wednesday a huge success. Everyone from restaurants, bars, gift shops, parking garages, and hotels all saw a jump in sales revenue strictly due to MTV kicking off their 'O' Music Awards on Beale Street."
Shivers said the effect continued well after the concert was over. "Due to MTV starting off in Memphis, the City of Memphis and Beale Street were mentioned in more than 50 national media outlets ranging from Yahoo, MSN, Rolling Stone and USA Today. There were also more than a million people that streamed the MTV 'O' Music Awards concerts online that saw all or clips of the Beale Street concert. Having the opportunity to showcase all the great things that Beale Street has to offer was priceless."
Martin Lane, who was the local co-ordinator for the MTV film crew, said he'd been contacted back in February to help find locations. Lane directed them to Beale Street and other venues that fit their needs, but didn't hear back for quite a while. Eventually, he was contacted again and hired as local co-ordinator for the MTV film crew.
Lane said MTV and VH-1 along with The Flaming Lips brought in much of their own crews that did lights, sound and co-ordinated transportation. But he and eight local production assistants handled last-minute runs and amenities for all the crews, mainly for those preparing the buses that, after the concert, were escorted by the police to the state line.
"There were people there from Guinness World Records," Lane said, "and it all had to be done by the book — the shows had to be the right lengths and the speed limits obeyed." The event ended up achieving a Guinness record for “The Most Live Concerts in 24 Hours (Multiple Cities).”
The “O Music Awards” kick-off was presented in coordination with Performa Entertainment Real Estate, The Memphis & Shelby County Film and Television Commission, The Memphis & Shelby County Music Commission, and The Memphis Music Foundation.
Memphis has been the choice for many other MTV productions, all clients of the Memphis & Shelby County Film and Television Commission. They include Memphis filmmaker Craig Brewer’s on-line music dramatic series, $5 Cover, and the on-line horror dramatic series, Savage County. However, Memphis’ history with MTV stretches back as far as 1998, when the MTV Sports & Music Festival 2 rocked on the banks of the Mississippi River in Tom Lee Park.