Live Nation is on the defensive about the health of its $120 million Madonna deal.
Big sales around the world for the Material Girl’s upcoming “Sticky & Sweet” tour have been overshadowed in music industry circles by chatter about the large number of tickets still available for a key stop in Los Angeles in November and softer-than-expected sales of her latest album “Hard Candy.”
The tour so far has grossed more than $74 million in sales for 13 dates in Europe and piled up a string of sellouts at arenas across North America, according to Live Nation.
Arthur Fogel, chairman of global music and CEO of the global touring division at Live Nation, projects the tour will gross more than $250 million in ticket sales – surpassing her record-breaking “Confessions on a Dance Floor” tour two years ago, which pulled in $195 million worldwide.
But just over half of the 43,000 seats available for a Nov. 6 date at Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium – 27,000 tickets in all – have been sold in their first three weeks of availability, raising red flags about the limits of US demand for the 49-year-old Madonna at this stage of her career.
It also comes as Live Nation’s management has been at odds over the strategy of handing out big-bucks, all-encompassing contracts, known as 360 deals, for aging stars like Madonna and Jay-Z. The rift led to last week’s exit of company chairman Michael Cohl.
To be sure, Madonna’s sales have been better at other venues.
A Nov. 4 show at San Diego’s Petco Park has sold 29,000 of 35,000 seats. And over 33,000 out of 42,000 available tickets were sold for a Nov. 26 stadium date in Miami.
And her US arena dates, including three nights at Madison Square Garden, have sold out.
But at the biggest venues, consumers in the US are not rushing for Madonna tickets with the same fervor that they are in Europe and other parts of the world.
An Aug. 30 show at the Military Airfield Deubendorf in Zurich, Switzerland, sold over 70,000 tickets in days in May, and an October date in Vancouver, BC, sold 50,000 tickets in 29 minutes.
The economy could be a factor – top tickets for Madonna are running as high as $500 at a time when food and gas costs are soaring.
Her latest album is doing solid but unspectacular business in the US. “Hard Candy” has sold 544,000 copies domestically, according to Nielsen SoundScan. That’s barely half of what rapper Lil Wayne recently sold in the first week for his latest album “Tha Carter III.”
Analysts note that the album could be hard pressed to match the business of her last album “Confessions on a Dance Floor,” which sold more than 1.6 million copies in the US.
Fogel, who has produced Madonna’s last three tours, said concern about ticket demand is overblown.
He noted that there are close to five months to go before the US stadium shows in question open, and each one has already grossed $3 million to $4 million in sales.
Live Nation stock closed down 3.92 percent, or 46 cents, at $11.27.
source : new york post