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Entertaining Discussions: Michael Haygood

By: Eric Boston @EricBoston3

Published: December 18, 2017

The Haygoods have been a part of the Branson entertainment industry for more than two decades. The town has changed quite a bit during that time. Michael Haygood sat down with Choose Branson recently to discuss their journey, the current focus of the city, and what Branson could be in the future.

“We just celebrated our 25th anniversary, which is mind-blowing to me. We started doing this full-time when I was seven. It was not working at that point though; you’re hanging out with your brothers and performing.”

“Through 25 years it [has become] kind of a different ballgame. In the 90’s there were a lot of big names here and it has kind of evolved because a lot of those people are no longer here. We still have guys like Jim Stafford and huge artists that come through all the time. I know Andy Williams passed away, but they are still doing his tribute show. That is a good thing - it brings this town legitimacy. With that progression though, it has allowed acts like us to grow.”

“We are working on building our business and our brand. I like where everything is at now. Not only has the town evolved, but entertainment has evolved. Imagine being a 14, 15-year-old kid being able to hop on YouTube and watch everything. It forces us to work to capture people’s attention, which can be pretty tough.”

That has been the challenge for many of Branson’s live shows in recent years. The growth of attractions and outdoor activities in the area competes for the time of visitors and residents alike. 

“The old style of performing, sitting up there with a guitar to display your craft, is very honorable. Capturing people’s attention for two hours, no matter their age, that is where the evolution and the challenge has been.”

“The average person is in town 3 days and 2 nights. I am all for, whether it is a good show or a good attraction, people getting the most out of their time here. Of course being in a show I would love for people to only see shows, but there is so much more offered now. Attractions like the Ferris Wheel, Bigfoot, different events at the Branson Landing - they all enhance the visitor’s experience. It’s nice that they can go and do some good stuff. I’m excited to have these things in town that I would send my friends to.”

“Part of the progression involves the repeat customers. We have people who come to the shows a few times a year. If you’re not giving them something new you may end up losing that ticket if they feel like they have already seen it. Why would they spend whatever your ticket price is to see the same thing? By the end of each season, we are ready for a change.”

With the need to always be new, many acts - including the Haygoods - not only perform current radio hits but include original material in their shows.  

“It is very exciting to have people there who accept newer songs. We use the saying, "surprise people with the familiar." For example, there is a part of our show where Catherine plays the harp. That is pretty by itself. Our goal is to keep everyone invested in the show though. We took LED lights and trimmed her harp. While she is playing there is a screen that comes up in front of her (that you are able to see through). We can project a video of what her fingers are doing but still see her. Then we drop in a hip-hop loop behind her playing. It is all centered around the song Singing In The Rain. You give the audience something familiar, in an updated way.”

 “I’m a huge fan of these local acts like Jason Pritchett and Prince Ivan, the talent there is just absurd. I love what they do and I love that we are not the only ones trying to pave the way to open new doors. We did a social experiment as the Mad Mountain Kings and we learned a lot. We picked three tunes that we liked, did our own arrangement of it, and then made three videos we posted online. Now you can follow who is watching and how you are reaching them. It went well, but ultimately it came back around to we are still the Haygoods. Why try to reinvent the wheel? Go out here as the Haygoods. Like the Brett’s do with Prince Ivan and Jason Pritchett does as well. Make ourselves and Branson known.”

Remaining true to their Branson roots, while being relevant to a new generation of fans, keeps the Haygoods working on their craft. They cannot rest on their past accomplishments. Instead, they are combining new material, with platforms such as YouTube, to connect with a greater audience than ever before.

“We are always releasing stuff and we released a new album called ‘Lucky Ones’ along with a video. The last I checked the video has over 100,000 views and climbing. It’s awesome, but we look at it as if people want to listen to the music that is cool - if not that is okay too. As it is growing we are starting to travel more. We are playing a show in St. Louis next year that is already 70% sold out. It proves that the progression is working. It’s still the Haygoods, but we are introducing more of our original music as well and getting good results.”

“Everything we are doing, going out on the road, it is all pushing back to Branson. We may be doing a different variety of live show, but we are keeping the same flavor of the Haygoods. We are marketing Branson. We are at such a cool time that there are so many possibilities. We are going to know and discover so much during the next year. Stay tuned.”

How do these new possibilities impact Branson? According to Michael Haygood, it goes beyond the options that the consumer has to choose from. 

“It is more than music, it is a reputation. As the Haygoods, we are set up well moving forward. We want to build on the reputation of Branson because we are grateful for what it has allowed us to do. We want people to enjoy it in its entirety. It’s a beautiful area.”

“Whether it is seeing our show, driving down the strip, stopping in at Bigfoot, or whatever - I want people to say this place is hopping. It’s a cool place.”

“I want to see businesses, not just ours, doing well. I would love to see the town continue to grow. That will all help it thrive. The future is a big question mark and there are a lot of possibilities, be accepting of new music and new ideas. We might fail 9 out of 10 times, but we are going to find what that next phase will be.”

Want to catch the Haygoods live in Branson? Choose Branson has many great vacation packages to make it happen. Try this deal out that gets you 3 days and 2 nights in Branson, along with two (2) show tickets to your choice of show - including the Haygoods.

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