The New York Post is reporting that while tickets for Madonna’s upcoming shows at New York’s Madison Square Garden and one show at the just-across-the-Hudson Izod Center have sold out, ticket sales at other venues in the States have been soft. The Post‘s Brian Garrity pays particular attention to Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, which holds 43,000 people but has only sold 27,000 tickets to her November date there so far. (Spot checks of Ticketmaster pages for shows in Boston and Houston also showed that tickets were still available in those markets as well.) Sure, one could cite this as more evidence that the lousy economy is resulting in even those artists who can charge $575 for a VIP package not being as able to make the “earn your money on the road” strategy work as well as it has in the past. So with sales of her final Warner album, Hard Candy, stalling in the mid-500k range and ticket sales to her road spectacles faltering in the U.S., what does this mean for Live Nation, which shelled out $120 million to have Madonna in its back pocket a few months back?
Well, I’m pretty sure that it means that Live Nation chief executive Michael Rapino was right to put his foot down about lucrative 360 deals that are based off an unproven business model. But other people in the company are more optimistic:
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. …
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.
Perhaps people are waiting until right before the tour, so they can avoid Ticketmaster surcharges, or at least figure out whether or not they can afford to fill up their gas tank and shell out the cash for a nosebleed seat? Either way, I’m sure Madonna is taking comfort in the fact that she’ll always have Dubai to fall back on should times get really rough.