Las Vegas is best known for gambling, but it’s also the biggest entertainment cities in the world. Recently, it was announced that “the Queen of Pop” Lady Gaga would start a 2-year residency in December 2018. She will carry on the tradition that many entertainers before her started. Her presence continue to define Las Vegas as a center for great shows.

Elvis Presley, Wayne Newton, and Frank Sinatra were historically synonymous with the Las Vegas entertainment scene. But those 3 people are not the entire list of performers who have graced the stage. Nor is it only musicians that make up the list.


Most performers who entertain on a regular basis in Las Vegas do so as part of a concert residency. A resident performer is an artist who performs a series of concerts at the same venue. It’s like a tour for the artist, but they don’t travel around the world. They play the same location over a period of weeks, months, or even years. Lady Gaga’s new residency is fitting considering her accomplishments and the people that preceded her.

Historical Residencies

One of the earliest known residencies–and the person credited with the concept–was the flamboyant musician Liberace. In 1944, Liberace contracted for a 10-year residency at the Riviera Hotel and Casino. It built his career. During that time, radio was making way for TV and Liberace’s showmanship was not only able to be displayed but honed for the new medium.

Liberace moved on to other projects for several years after his residency, including television and film. He became a household name in the US. In the 20 years that followed his residency, he became the highest paid entertainer in the world. But he never forgot his Las Vegas roots. He returned for a few residencies in the 1980s before his unfortunate death.


Another famous residency was that of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack. Sinatra had several residencies over the 1950s and 60s. In the early 50s, he used these appearances to prop him up when his career seemed to be in decline. After the appearance in the 1953 film From Here to Eternity, Sinatra’s career skyrocketed. Sinatra’s biggest residencies were at the Sands Hotel and Casino. His performances were so popular, he eventually negotiated for ownership shares of the hotel.

Elvis Presley had 2 major residencies in Las Vegas. The first was a 2-week residency in 1956 at the New Frontier Hotel and Casino after the release of his first album. Because the crowd mostly consisted of conservative people in the 40s and 50s, the residency did not go well. 13 years later, Elvis would return to Las Vegas and take up residency at the Hilton Las Vegas, (now known as the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino). He would perform there from 1969 through 1976. He had 837 consecutive sold-out shows during that 7 year period.

But the end of the 20th century, Las Vegas residencies became known for artists at the end of their career trying to cash in before retirement. To some extent, it was true then, and it’s still true now. But in 2003, that perception and business model for both artists and venues started to change.

In a pioneering move, singer Celine Dion signed to do a 4-year residency at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas. The residency was called Celine Dion, A New Day. It sold 322,000 tickets and grossed $43.9 million in the first half of 2005, and by July 2005, she had sold out 315 out of 384 shows.


According to Billboard, A New Day is the most successful residency of all time. It grossed over $385 million and drew nearly 3 million people to 717 shows. Dion’s success made Las Vegas the cool and hip place for younger and/or less conservative artists to take up residencies. Britney Spears took up residency in 2013. Other popular artists like Bruno Mars, Guns and Roses, Aerosmith, Mariah Carey, Gwen Stefani, Blink 182, and the Backstreet Boys have all followed with their own residencies in Las Vegas.

But no one will be bigger than Lady Gaga. Gaga is expected to start her Lady Gaga Enigma residency at the MGM Park Theater in Las Vegas in December of 2018. The residency will run for 2 years.

About Lady Gaga

It’s safe to say that the woman born Stefani Germanotta is among the most successful artists in the world. Notice I said artist and not singer or musician. That’s because she’s more than that.

A short list from Lady Gaga’s impressive resume includes:

  • singer
  • songwriter
  • pianist
  • fashion designer
  • actress
  • record producer
  • artist
  • social activist

She’s the Madonna of her generation. At the age of 32 (her age as of the writing of this blog), she has achieved some major accomplishments.

Among her awards and achievements:

  • 27 million albums sold
  • 146 million singles sold
  • First woman to receive the Digital Diamond Award certification from RIAA
  • One of 3 artists with at least two Diamond certified songs
  • The only artist to have two songs pass 7 million downloads
  • The eighth top digital singles artist in the US with a total of 61 million equivalent units certified according to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)
  • The holder of 12 Guinness World Records

And with an estimated worth of approximately $400 million, she’s among the richest and most successful young artists recording and performing today.

Glitz and Glamor

Ever since the debut of Liberace, Las Vegas has had a reputation for glitz and glamor. Liberace would not have been as successful without his sequin and bejeweled tuxedoes and capes. Nor should we forget his trademark candelabra that adorned his piano each time he performed.

Lady Gaga is a fitting successor to Liberace’s Las Vegas legacy. When Time magazine made its 100 All-Time Fashion Icons in 2012, Lady Gaga was among those listed. They stated “[she] has sported outfits made from plastic bubbles, Kermit the Frog dolls, and raw meat. And companies are catching on — Gaga has partnered with brands like Giorgio Armani on tour outfits, as well as Polaroid, and even pens a fashion column for V Magazine.”


The meat dress won Gaga one of the Best Dressed people of 2010 from Vogue Magazine and Fashion Statement of the Year from Time in 2010. It was later displayed at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in 2012, and since September 2015 has been on display the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

But it’s not all steak that makes her sizzle. She can go from the outrageous to the demur. As in the case with her recent A Star is Born publicity tour. Gaga is the star of the film and walked the red carpet in many cities. Each red carpet was a different dress made by different designers.

Some of the designers included:

  • Jonathan Simkhai
  • Jean Paul Gaultier
  • Iris van Herpen
  • Ralph & Russo
  • Alexander McQueen

The New Wave of Las Vegas Visitors

I remember watching an episode of the television show Roseanne in the 1990s. The premise was that Roseanne’s husband, Dan, was saving up to take Roseanne to Las Vegas for their anniversary. Of course, there was some hindrance to this as Roseanne couldn’t get the time off and wound up quitting to be able to go, but they did go.

And while Roseanne wanted to gamble, there was another, more important reason for her to go: To see Wayne Newton. For years, people would go to see Wayne Newton, Frank Sinatra, Siegfried and Roy, or David Copperfield. And millions would come to see them each year. But it was people Roseanne’s age, which at the time was in their 40s. Las Vegas was a hub for middle aged or even elderly people to come and blow some money on the slots and see a show.


Lady Gaga represents a stark difference to that demographic. Her “little monsters”–as she refers to her fans–started listening to her a decade ago in their preteens and teens. These fans are now in their early 20s and are making the trek to Las Vegas to see her.

Acts like Lady Gaga, as well as Britney Spears and Bruno Mars, are pulling in the 20 somethings that Las Vegas could never tap into before. Lada Gaga is achieving what Las Vegas wanted to do 20 years ago. They realized that an aging audience does not increase revenue, because they eventually get sick and die. So there was a campaign to market Las Vegas as family friendly.

This family-friendly atmosphere included:

  • amusement rides on the top of high rise hotels
  • shows aimed at kids
  • amenities hotels had to offer such as babysitting

This marketing concept failed and was replaced with the popular “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”. But now, with acts like Gaga, Las Vegas is getting some young blood in the city. And the city is prepared. Many existing businesses are changing their business models, and new businesses are popping up to accommodate the younger demographics. This can plainly be seen in the restaurant industry. Some hotels and restaurants in Las Vegas and the surrounding areas are moving towards healthy menus. Vegan, gluten-free, and organic menus are being featured all over town.


In any business deal, the bottom line comes down to money. And Lady Gaga is a money machine. When MGM Park Theater signed Gaga to her residency, the old expression of “printing their own money” was first in their minds. They knew that there would be so much interest that ticket sales would seem like they have their own cash printing press.

The reason they knew is simple:

She’s the most successful recording artist of the age. In a decade of recording, she has amassed well over $400 million dollars. The MGM knows that they have the potential to eclipse records set by Celine Dion, which in Gaga’s case could more than double her wealth. But the shows aren’t the only way that both the MGM and Gaga are going to make money.

First, there are merchandise sales. T-shirts, posters, and all the other products that they sell at concerts will be available. Then there is the possibility of live albums. Gaga could conceivably record 1 or 2 live albums while in residency. While the MGM may not see anything from the profit of these recordings, depending on how their contracts are set up, they will definitely see publicity from the album(s) as the venue is usually prominently featured in such recordings.

Another way they’ll make money is through pay-per-view. As Caesar’s did with Celine Dion, the MGM will more than likely do with Lady Gaga. We will see at least one special pay-per-view concert or streaming carrier broadcast a show or 2. The money from this event and the subsequent video releases an album will bring in a lot of money.


Any hotel that landed Lady Gaga has a publicity coup for that hotel. The MGM was the one who landed her, and they’ll reap the rewards for the next 2 years. With Gaga constantly in the press and doing interviews for any project that she does publicity for, it will be said: “currently in residence at the MGM Park Theater in Las Vegas” or something similar. Whether it is her movie A Star is Born, or a television appearance, or a new album, it will be mentioned. You can’t buy that kind of advertising. But not only will it be great publicity for the MGM, but Las Vegas as a whole.


One of the considerations that Lady Gaga had to take into account was her health. She has been experiencing issues with fatigue and chronic pain for years. In 2010, she was diagnosed with borderline Lupus and has had to change her diet to accommodate it.

Lupus is a disease in which the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue in many parts of the body. The symptoms can include painful and swollen joints, fever, chest pain, hair loss, and a red rash which is most commonly on the face. Often there are periods of illness, called flares, and periods of remission during which there are few symptoms.

Last year, Gaga had to cancel several concerts due to fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia causes chronic widespread pain and a heightened pain response to pressure, excessive tiredness, sleep problems, and memory issues. It’s frequently associated with depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Gaga has stated that she does have issues with depression and anxiety.

So, the desert air and the fact that she isn’t going from city to city touring will be a great boost for Gaga’s health. She can get into a routine and be able to manage her illnesses. This is great for Las Vegas, too. First, because she will be performing their consistently and making money for them. But also because Gaga is open about her challenges. If she cites Las Vegas as helping her cope with her ailments, more people and fans may come to Las Vegas to try and manage their similar ailments.

LGBTQ+ Marriages

Lady Gaga identified as a bisexual woman. She is a fierce advocate of LGBTQ+ rights. She credits the gay community as a whole for her early successes. She has appeared at marches and has spoken at rallies worldwide. With the legalization of same-sex marriage via the Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, Las Vegas can now be in the business of gay weddings.

For a long time, Las Vegas has been the place to get married without any hoops to jump through and with no waiting period. With a large number of gay fans expected to come to see Gaga, we could see many of these couples tying the knot while in town, which will create an economic windfall for the area.

If Lady Gaga never became the icon she did and was just an ordinary artist, she still would have been a great candidate for a Las Vegas residency. She is a classically trained musician and has a beautiful voice. But Gaga took it all to the next level. And as a result, she became the pop icon that she is. She will make hundreds of millions of dollars for herself, the MGM, and Las Vegas in general during her residency.

Both she and MGM made a smart business decision to partner up; Lady Gaga is a great fit for Las Vegas. She’s the new blood that they need while being a throwback to the showmanship of the original residency in the city, Liberace.

Related Articles
Leave Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *