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What It Took to Produce Travis Kelce's Headline-Grabbing Music Festival

The Super Bowl champion drew 20,000 fans, memorable music performances, and five times as many sponsorship dollars to his second Kelce Jam. Here, the event's production team shares all the insider details.

Behind the Scenes at Travis Kelce's Kelce Jam 2024
"In the Medium Rare model, we really want you to feel like you’re entering the DNA of our celebrities," said producer Adam Richman. "Kelce Jam [is] exactly what he wants his music festival to look like, filled with his favorite food and a music lineup he personally picked. You really feel like you’re entering Travis Kelce’s world."
Photo: Medium Rare

KANSAS CITY, MO.—As Taylor Swift once sang, "Karma is the guy on the Chiefs." And while we're not quite sure if karma can be credited for the success of superstar tight end Travis Kelce's second Kelce Jam, we can confirm that the experienced production team behind the scenes surely deserves some praise.

That team was Medium Rare and its co-CEOs, Adam Richman and Joe Silberzweig. The duo is known for producing popular events like Rob Gronkowski's Gronk Beach, Guy Fieri’s Flavortown, and Shaq’s Fun House, where they create 50-50 partnerships with celebrities and athletes to produce live and experiential events of all types. 

BizBash caught up with Richman and Silberzweig shortly after this year's Kelce Jam to discuss how they teamed up with the Super Bowl champion, the ways they worked with the event's two dozen sponsors, the Taylor Swift effect, and much more. This interview has been lightly edited and condensed. 

Behind the Scenes at Travis Kelce's Kelce Jam 2024Kelce Jam took place May 18 at the Azura Amphitheater and hosted performances by Lil Wayne, Diplo, 2 Chainz, and more.Photo: Medium Rare

I’d love to hear how you work with Travis and how that partnership came about.

Richman: "At Medium Rare, our model is really simple: We go 50-50 with athletes and celebrities—so Medium Rare is really taking all the risks, producing the event, selling the sponsorships, etc., and it’s really up to our partners how much or how little they want to be involved. In Travis’ case, he was super hands-on, and really wanted to be involved in the music and the look and feel of the event. 

Travis initially came to Shaq’s Fun House in 2019—he and [Chiefs quarterback] Patrick Mahomes actually paid for a table, which is kind of funny to think about now!—and we started a relationship with Travis’ manager. We stayed in touch and invited them to Gronk Beach in 2022, and Travis basically grabbed us and said, ‘I need to do one of these.’ With the draft coming to Kansas City the following year, it was a great fit. We did the first Kelce Jam during the Draft in 2023, and this was year two. This year’s event was a lot bigger—which we can probably credit to winning back-to-back Super Bowls and dating Taylor Swift. Everyone can pick which was more important to our growth! [Laughs]"

As you said, last year’s event took place during the NFL Draft, whereas this year was a stand-alone event. How do you think that changed things?

Silberzweig: “Being at the Draft had a lot of plusses and minuses, but it was just such a unique combination of things this year for Kelce Jam, with the recent Super Bowl championship, Travis’ rise in popularity, and also it being the biggest festival of the year in Kansas City on a stand-alone Saturday. I actually think it all drove more ticket sales, more excitement, and more media attention."

Richman: "We were definitely nervous going in about sponsorship. Normally, brands have dollars to spend on Super Bowl weekend, on Draft weekend, on NBA All-Star weekend. So not having that anchor event was a concern—we were just a random Saturday in Kansas City. But we actually did five times the sponsorship of last year, which we never could have projected, and so much of that is honestly because Travis has become a bigger star. You don’t need to watch football now to know who Travis Kelce is, and that’s been a real game changer for this business." Behind the Scenes at Travis Kelce's Kelce Jam 2024Kelce posed with the Medium Rare team.Photo: Medium Rare

He really does have this whole new group of superfans. Did you take any new demographics into account, or did you have to bring in extra security?

Silberzweig: "It expanded the way we approached activations with our sponsors—and I think it attracted a subset of brands that were looking to connect with a younger millennial and Gen Z audience. So this year, for example, Takis was a new partner, and they sponsored a live stream that had over a million viewers and lived live on Travis' social media. Another sponsor, Uncrustables, also leaned a bit on that younger demo with the Uncrustables carnival, which had oversize attractions and sampling for the whole festival.

As for security, when we walked around the festival with Travis during opening hours, we had an ex-military team of 12 people—and that was barely enough to manage the hysteria. It’s all types of people at Kelce Jam—young and old, families, Chiefs Kingdom. At the end of the day, everyone just wants to come and party and get a little taste of Travis Kelce." Behind the Scenes at Travis Kelce's Kelce Jam 2024The event drew more than 20,000 people, an increase from last year's 15,000.Photo: Medium Rare

Tell me more about the activations—I know the Medium Rare team oversaw all design and fabrication for the majority of them. How did that work?

Richman: "So at something like Coachella, they give you an activation footprint and then it’s on you and your agency to produce the activation. Medium Rare actually takes the opposite approach, where we want to make it really turnkey and simple for our brands. So we’re producing, staffing, designing, and fabricating activations for them.

Obviously, we want the brands to shine and showcase what’s important to them. But we’re also always thinking, ‘What’s going to be cool? What is Travis going to like? What will his fans like?’ It puts us in this unique spot where we’re sitting between Travis and the brand, and we’re able to merge their brains together and come up with an activation that’s going to make the most sense."

Can you share much about plans for future editions of Kelce Jam? Will it travel to more cities?

Silberzweig: "It’s definitely one of our fastest-growing and most successful festivals at Medium Rare. Right now, Travis is of course still actively playing, which does limit the touring potential. But similar to other festivals, like Shaq’s Fun House or Gronk Beach, Kelce Jam obviously has tremendous potential that we love the idea of exploring in the future. It’s still early days in the franchise, but there’s a lot of momentum and excitement around it." Behind the Scenes at Travis Kelce's Kelce Jam 2024Many of Kelce's teammates, like Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, made appearances at the festival.Photo: Medium Rare

You guys specialize in these types of personality-driven festivals. What do you think fans are looking for from something like Kelce Jam? 

Richman: "In the industry, we’re definitely feeling a shift from the megafestival—going from 100,000 people a day to these more boutique, intimate festivals. In the Medium Rare model, we really want you to feel like you’re entering the DNA of our celebrities. When you go to Shaq’s Fun House, you’re entering Shaquille’s brain. Same with Kelce Jam—it’s exactly what he wants his music festival to look like, filled with his favorite food and a music lineup he personally picked. You really feel like you’re entering Travis Kelce’s world."

Silberzweig: "Travis had a really unique involvement in a lot of these activations, and I think that drove a lot of the success and growth of sponsorship this year. He had main-stage moments with a lot of the brands, like hosting a Wingstop eating contest, and he also visited and created content at every activation. These brands understand the media value of working with Travis and having him post about them on his social."

Richman: “Yeah, all of our partners are getting some social amplification from Kelce Jam and from Travis directly, which really offers this unique opportunity. Typically, when you sponsor a festival, you’re not getting an actual ambassador. But every brand that was a partner at Kelce Jam is basically getting Travis as their ambassador. He’s posting on social, he’s talking about the brands during media interviews. There's this really unique integration that a celebrity-led festival can offer."

What's next for Medium Rare?

Richman: "We’re really excited for Dave Portnoy’s One Bite Pizza Festival coming back to New York on Sept. 14. We’ll also be doing Chainfest with The Office’s B.J. Novak; it started out as a gag during COVID where they were doing gourmet spins on chain restaurants and their iconic dishes. The brands caught on and started partnering directly with them on these pop-ups. We’re excited to help them take it to the next level in New York and Los Angeles this fall." 

Scroll down to see highlights from Kelce Jam's on-site sponsor activations. Behind the Scenes at Travis Kelce's Kelce Jam 2024Jim Beam, Beam Suntory’s brand of bourbon whiskey, was a presenter of this year's Kelce Jam. The oversize activation served Kansas City barbecue and Jim Beam cocktails.Photo: Medium RareBehind the Scenes at Travis Kelce's Kelce Jam 2024Jim Beam also presented a drone show during the event.Photo: Medium RareBehind the Scenes at Travis Kelce's Kelce Jam 2024Sponsor Takis brought the heat to Kelce Jam with a memorable main-stage moment, filled with pyrotechnics and free Takis product passed out from the stage. Fans who weren’t able to make it to Kansas City were also able to watch the Kelce Jam Livestream, presented by Takis.Photo: Medium RareBehind the Scenes at Travis Kelce's Kelce Jam 2024Wingstop was back for the second time as the event's official wing partner. In addition to passing out free samples of its sauced-and-tossed barbecue wings, the brand hosted a wing-eating contest on the main stage—co-hosted by Kelce and featuring his teammate Trey Smith.Photo: Medium RareBehind the Scenes at Travis Kelce's Kelce Jam 2024Subway was on site promoting its Footlong Subway Sidekicks, the brand's new collection of footlong snacks including the footlong churro and cookie.Photo: Medium RareBehind the Scenes at Travis Kelce's Kelce Jam 2024After getting a free sample, fans could grab a photo on the Subway seesaw.Photo: Medium RareBehind the Scenes at Travis Kelce's Kelce Jam 2024Uncrustables hosted “The Uncrustival," a place for fans to hang out, try their luck at a carnival-style basketball game, and, of course, get free samples of their favorite Uncrustables flavors. Uncrustables had a custom-branded sampling station, and the entire basketball game was customized with Uncrustables branding as well as prizes for anyone who participated.Photo: Medium RareBehind the Scenes at Travis Kelce's Kelce Jam 2024Fans could also visit a custom-branded Hilton activation to take part in Travis Kelce’s Football Toss presented by Hilton, where they could step up, hit the targets, and win Hilton-branded prizes. Hilton also offered an exclusive package where Hilton Honors members could use points to purchase one of 10 spots at an exclusive meet-and-greet with Kelce, along with VIP tickets and more.Photo: Medium RareBehind the Scenes at Travis Kelce's Kelce Jam 2024Uber Eats was a returning sponsor of Kelce Jam with Merchant Row, where the brand brought in three Uber Eats merchants—Jack Stack Barbecue, Hawaiian Bros Island Grill, and 7-Eleven—to provide fans with all of their festival necessities. As an added bonus, Uber One members were able to get an exclusive meet-and-greet with Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Trent McDuffie.Photo: Medium RareBehind the Scenes at Travis Kelce's Kelce Jam 2024Rogaine brought a football toss activation for fans to test their luck and skill in hitting the target: an oversize Rogaine bottle. Fans were also able to get free samples of Rogaine after taking their shot at the target.Photo: Medium RareBehind the Scenes at Travis Kelce's Kelce Jam 2024Lee Jeans had a denim-clad photo moment where fans were able to pose catching a football. The photo moment had a custom-built denim backdrop using real Lee denim to showcase the brand’s Kansas roots. Attendees were also able to purchase Kelce Jam merchandise at various merchandise stands, which were powered by Lee Jeans.Photo: Medium RareBehind the Scenes at Travis Kelce's Kelce Jam 2024Casa Azul had a custom-built dedicated bar for Kelce Jam fans to try out the brand's new Playa Pack, a full line of canned tequila soda flavors.Photo: Medium RareBehind the Scenes at Travis Kelce's Kelce Jam 2024Adjacent to the Casa Azul bar was a surfboard photo moment.Photo: Medium Rare

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