It’s In the Name: A Conversation with Craig Nyman

Delivering “happiness and joy” is Nyman’s mantra and mission. This proves true with Life Is Beautiful.

By: Jason R Latham

Craig Nyman remembers the moment he realized Life Is Beautiful was bound for success, and it was long before any of us did.

“[It was] when the name Life Is Beautiful was born,” the festival’s Director of Music, Programming, and Development recalls. “It was clear that those three words resonated, across our team, our staff, volunteers, and the community.

“It really acted as a force that brought everyone together. It was at that moment that I knew were on to something.”

The 10th anniversary of Life Is Beautiful marks Nyman’s 10th go-round with the festival. It’s another opportunity to perfect a formula that Las Vegas fell hard for when LIB landed in 2013 – taking the best of the city’s cultural and culinary scenes, fusing them with the trendiest artists in music, and giving them all an 18-block playground to do what they do best. 

Bringing the festival to life is what Nyman does best. A festival founder and a staple of the Las Vegas entertainment industry since his early days as a publicist, Nyman is the man who gets asked about the LIB lineup at least 5-6 times every day, even after the official announcement hits the newswires. 

This year, the lineup dropped in March, six months before the gates open. That’s left Nyman and his team very little time to come up for air – “[I’m] always keeping my nose on the grindstone,” he says – as they corral talent, contributors, vendors, and more, directing each of them to their positions in the jigsaw puzzle that is the festival grounds.

Delivering “happiness and joy” is Nyman’s mantra and mission, and when the last artist leaves the stage on the festival’s final night, he’ll be right back at it for Year No. 11. 

“I hope one day I’ll be able to reflect and see the impact that has been made in our community, in our city, and to anyone who has ever experienced our footprint,” he says. “For now, for me, I’m focused on delivering on that mission of joy.”

Jack Harlow performs at the Downtown Stage during day three of the Life is Beautiful Music Festival held in Downtown Las Vegas, NV on Sept. 18, 2022. (Photo by Alive Coverage/Sipa USA)

Five LIB Questions with Craig Nyman

OTS: What’s the best performance you’ve ever seen at Life Is Beautiful? 

Craig Nyman: I can’t pick just one, but what I will say is this: I’m extremely proud of the artists we’ve been able to bring to Life is Beautiful, and to Las Vegas. In the beginning, most didn’t even know about Downtown Las Vegas – and some had never played the city. Being a part of the team to drive more music to the city and to fans is one of the most rewarding parts of this dream.

OTS: What’s your craziest Life Is Beautiful story? 

Craig Nyman: In 2014, after convincing The Beatles LOVE by Cirque du Soleil to partner up with the Las Vegas Philharmonic for a once-in-a-lifetime performance, there were a lot of hoops to jump through on the back end. It was pure magic watching this come together – to have my crazy idea not seem so crazy to these organizations. Once it was approved, the real work started when [composer] Giles Martin had to rewrite the score and adapt it for the Philharmonic to perform live. The levels that went into making this performance happen were truly magical and memorable. I still get goosebumps watching the behind the scenes video, as it was one of the most intricate moments for me in the history of the festival.

OTS: Which artist are you most excited to see this year? 

Craig Nyman: It’s not just one, there are too many to list! I love our lineup and the artists we have. Having The Killers headline the festival for the first time since 2013 is perfect for Vegas, and our other two headliners are also Life is Beautiful vets, with Kendrick Lamar headlining in 2015 and Odesza performing at the festival in 2018. Now they are both back to headline – it’s just awesome. Yeah Yeahs Yeahs on Friday night is going to be wild. The 1975 will mark its Life is Beautiful festival debut, which is huge for our fans. Khalid is a hit machine. John Summit’s set is going to be straight fire, as are our other DJs on the lineup like Vintage Culture, Purple Disco Machine, Claptone, and J. Worra. Up-and-comers like Jessie Murph, Barry Can’t Swim, RAYE, Beach Weather, and TSHA mixed with Dayglow, Goth Babe, Franc Moody, Bebe Rexha, Rina Sawayama, and more just makes it such a fun lineup to come out and dance your heart out.

2023 Lineup of Headliners for Life is Beautiful

OTS: Which experience are you most excited to see this year? 

Craig Nyman: Mantis Stage and Meow Wolf are going to be truly special, and I cannot wait! We have a few more surprises in store too, but I can’t spill the beans just yet.

OTS: What’s Your No. 1 Tip For A First-Time Festival Goer?

Craig Nyman: Get some comfortable shoes, hydrate, and get ready for three days of magic!

Read More: Recap Of Life is Beautiful 2022

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