AEG’s Danielle Kennedy-Clark on fan expectations
AEG’s VP guest experience Danielle Kennedy-Clark has spoken to IQ about enhanced customer expectations at shows, post-pandemic.
A 16-year AEG veteran, Kennedy-Clark was deputy general manager of London’s The O2 prior to being appointed to the newly created role at the start of 2023.
“I could see a gap within our business, particularly working through Covid and seeing how behaviour was starting to change around guest experience,” she says. “We didn’t have an overarching person pulling a strategy together and making sure there was synergy between all of our businesses.
“Given my experience, and the passion I have for it, I thought it seemed like a good role, so we created it together, but based around AEG’s need and aspiration to put the customer at the forefront of all of our decision making. We’ve always done that, but we probably haven’t done it as strategically and seamlessly as maybe we should have done in the past. And that’s why I’m here now – to drive that agenda point forward.”
“If you put 20,000 people in a room that don’t know each other, it can be fantastic, but it can also be quite problematic”
Kennedy-Clark suggests the Covid shutdown – exacerbated by the subsequent cost of living crisis – represented something of a turning point for audiences.
“There have always been certain behaviours around different demographics, arrival processes, and those sorts of things. If you put 20,000 people in a room that don’t know each other, it can be fantastic, but it can also be quite problematic,” she says. “We’re experts in controlling that and have been for many years, but what we’ve seen coming out of the pandemic is this real passion and drive to be in a live environment. Everybody’s certainly missed that, but we have seen behavioural changes.”
Kennedy-Clark suggests that, for many customers, their overall experience at an event is now just as important as what they actually see on stage.
“The expectation level of guests has certainly gone up and there are multiple factors around that – particularly that money is sparse,” she continues. “If people are investing money into going to see a show, that’s a privilege for us, but it also comes with expectation because there is a finite amount of money and have built up to it as a special occasion. So from the moment that purchase happens, there’s an expectation that it needs to be as seamless as possible.
“It can be quite overwhelming, as well, to come to a massive place full of people and music, with lots of things going on, if you’ve been out of that environment for two years, so we need to consider that as well. On top of that, our staff were out of practice and so we need to make sure that their interactions between our people on the ground, and the people attending is all joined up and done in the best possible way to make sure that everybody has an enjoyable time.”
“Smart technologies are helping us move forward into the future and take the pain points away from the customer”
Kennedy-Clark outlines some of the priorities for venues when dealing with customers on arrival.
“Of course, safety is paramount and should always be at the forefront of everybody’s mind,” she says. “That’s our number one priority, so that guests feels completely comfortable when they arrive and it’s certainly something that we factor in always with very fine detail.
“You also have to communicate efficiently and effectively to a guest. Where we’ve changed is we don’t necessarily over-communicate, we need to make sure that there’s a fine balance and they get the information they need at the right time, and that it’s readily available. It’s a 24-hour culture now – it can’t just be available 9 to 5, it has to be available 24 hours a day. If you can’t get the information quite quickly, you get quite frustrated, so we’ve had to evolve with the use of chatbots, for instance – information readily available in apps and being able to download your ticket at a touch of a button, and it’s all stored in your phone. Smart technologies are helping us move forward into the future and take the pain points away from the customer.”
During last month’s ILMC, Prof Chris Kemp of Mind Over Matter Consultancy put forward some of the sociological factors for changing crowd dynamics, which he says pre-date the pandemic. AEG has worked closely with Kemp on studying the issue in detail, and now monitors the data it obtains from post-event and on-the-ground surveys “much more meticulously”.
This week has also seen the announcement of The Residence – an exclusive VIP members club at The O2
“Our customers will tell us how we did and whether we’re getting things right,” says Kennedy-Clark. “They are asked questions like, ‘How long did it take you to get into the building?,’ for instance. ‘Were you in a queue when you got to the bar? Was what you needed at the bar available?’ We’re analysing these sorts of things in much more in detail now so that if there are any areas where we can improve, we can do it very quickly.
“We will check the data around how quickly the tickets were scanned because we know it increases people’s satisfaction if they haven’t had to wait. We would look at spend per head – have we been able to service customers efficiently and effectively in a timely fashion? And we would look at incident rates to see if there were problems on the night, or complaints, or any issues with staffing. So we take this data from multiple areas and it goes to filling out this big picture.”
She adds: “We put smart technologies in place to take away the pain points and make sure we can be automated where needed to be, but not so automated that we take away our people. Ultimately, we want to be the industry leader in giving a best in class guest experience. There are so many other experiences available, and we need to make sure that we are the business of choice.”
This week has also seen the announcement of The Residence – an exclusive VIP members club at The O2 designed to change the way customers experience live events.
Opening late 2023, the 300-cap club will offer members exclusive access to some of the best views for every public event at The O2. It will be located on Level 3 directly opposite the arena stage, as well as exclusive experiences including retractable viewing platform The Walkway, which will enable members to stand 70ft above the crowds before the show.
The Residence will also include intimate lounges and booths, a range of premium bars including a cocktail bar and a ‘floating’ champagne bar, and a 50-seat restaurant with an open kitchen serving specially curated menus.
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Save Brixton Academy petition launched
A petition has been launched to save O2 Academy Brixton after the Met Police called for the venue’s licence to be revoked.
The 5,000-cap Academy Music Group (AMG) venue has been closed since two people died in a crush at a show by singer/songwriter Asake on 15 December 2022, amid reports that “a large number of people breached the entrance doors and gained entry to the venue”.
Concert attendee Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, and security operative Gaby Hutchinson, 23, both suffered fatal injuries in the incident, while a third person was left in a critical condition.
Earlier this week, it was revealed that police have applied to Lambeth Council seeking the revocation of the venue’s licence, having “lost confidence in the premises licence holder”. AMG, meanwhile, said it had “presented detailed proposals that we believe will enable the venue to reopen safely” following discussions with the authorities, with the council set to consider both parties’ applications “in due course”.
“Brixton Academy is an iconic London music venue and should this cease to be so, another part of the musical landscape and history is lost forever”
More than 15,000 people have already signed the petition launched by concert-goer Stuart O’Brien, which is appealing for new security and crowd control measures to be implemented at the venue in the wake of the tragedy, rather than outright closure.
“Brixton Academy is an iconic London music venue and should this cease to be so, another part of the musical landscape and history is lost forever,” it says. “Let’s not turn this venue into soulless flats as would more than likely happen in the event of permanent closure.
“I personally have been to hundreds of gigs in my lifetime, many of them here and I have never once felt like safety was an issue. The loss of this venue would also have a devastating affect on the local economy. So please, let’s help keep music live and Save Brixton Academy.”
Lambeth Council has already initiated an independent health and safety review of the venue, led by former council chief Paul Martin.
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CTS inks ticketing partnership with Semper Opera
Pan-European live entertainment giant CTS Eventim has agreed a deal to become the official ticketing partner of Dresden’s Semper Opera House.
The Eventim.Inhouse solution will offer benefits including new “simply control gates”, which will give ticket-holders quick and easy access to events using a code on their smartphone, while a 3D seating map for choosing the best seats and buying tickets is set to be introduced in the near future.
“We are delighted to equip one of the world’s most famous music venues with an in-house ticketing solution that enhances the wide range of events it hosts,” says Karsten Elbrecht, CTS’ chief commercial officer of ticketing in Germany. “We want to ensure that Semper Opera House’s service offering matches its reputation as a world-class venue, while turning it into a role model for other cultural venues.”
“CTS Eventim is the ideal partner for us, providing extensive expertise that enables us to offer our visitors the best possible service”
“CTS Eventim has shown how a tailor-made software solution can meet customers’ expectations when it comes to booking and buying tickets, as well as the needs of our own operation,” says Wolfgang Rothe, commercial director of Sächsische Staatstheater Dresden. “CTS Eventim is the ideal partner for us, providing extensive expertise that enables us to offer our visitors the best possible service, from booking and purchasing tickets through to admission. We look forward to using Eventim.Inhouse this season and to continuing our collaboration with CTS Eventim.”
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Digital merch platform Hawkr secures £260k funding
Digital live music merchandise firm Hawkr has secured £260,000 (€296,000) in a seed round led by venture capital firm Jenson Funding Partners and other investors.
Launched in 2021 by co-founders Jamie Monson and Les Seddon-Brown, London-based Hawkr aims to streamline the process for artists and fans via a digital platform and data-driven solution to make buying and selling merch at live music events more accessible, profitable and sustainable.
Hawkr is centred around print-on-demand technology and direct-to-consumer sales. Artists can use tools on the platform to create designs, upload the final product to their virtual merch stand and then set the items live during a show while directing fans to the platform via in-venue promotion.
“Hawkr isn’t just improving the live music industry with a platform that makes the merchandise buying and selling process easier for all, but doing it in a way that takes sustainability into account,” adds Sarah Barber, CEO of Jenson Funding Partners. “It’s exciting to be investing in a company that values reducing the carbon footprint of tours and live events alongside the profitability and accessibility that is at the heart of the music industry. We look forward to seeing Hawkr’s continued growth as it makes the merchandise experience better for music fans everywhere.”
“It’s a problem that’s needed a solution for a long time”
Fans are able to browse merchandise on their phones, select their item and have it sent to Hawkr’s print-on-demand supplier. Some 150 artists are currently on the Hawkr platform, and the firm also has partnerships with industry organisations and groups including Marshall Amps, the Featured Artists Coalition, and Brian Eno’s music eco charity Earth/Percent.
Hawkr plans to use the new investment to develop a pipeline of new innovative features, while continuing to build out its partnership network within the music industry.
“When I ran a portfolio of major music festivals for nearly a decade, I got to experience the merchandise world and all the issues that artists and fans go through first hand,” says Monson, Hawkr CEO. “It’s a problem that’s needed a solution for a long time, particularly on the sustainability front where it was often the case where I’d be left with countless boxes of items and be left to find ways of getting rid of it.
“Our marketplace platform helps alleviate all of these pain points and offers a more seamless process for all parties from start to finish. This funding will help us continue to develop our service and expand it to other parts of the world so artists and fans everywhere can enjoy a better experience with merch at live gigs.”
Ticket requests for U2 Sphere residency top 1m
U2 have added a further five dates to their U2:UV Achtung Baby Live At Sphere residency after receiving more than one million ticket requests for the shows.
The run will launch Madison Square Garden (MSG) Entertainment’s 17,500-seat/20,000-cap Sphere at The Venetian in Las Vegas venue in September.
The Irish group initially announced five nights from 29-30 September and 5, 7-8 October, before confirming an additional seven (11, 13-14, 18, 20-21 and 25 October). Now, Sphere Entertainment and Live Nation have revealed five more dates – 27-28 October and 1, 3-4 November – bringing the total number of concerts to 17.
Tickets start at US$140 (€127) and will reflect all-in pricing. Promoters say the larger capacity allows for 60% of tickets to be priced under $300, while there will also be a limited number of premium priced tickets per show.
Based around U2’s classic 1991 album Achtung Baby, the series will be the band’s first live shows since The Joshua Tree 30th anniversary stadium tour, which was seen by 3.28 million fans worldwide from 2017-19 and grossed US$390.8 million.
The $2.18 billion Sphere is a “next-generation entertainment medium” that promises to “redefine the future of live entertainment”. It will introduce the first 16K screen that wraps up, around, and behind the audience, and also boasts Sphere Immersive Sound and 4D technologies.
“There’s nothing else like it in the world and won’t be for many, many years”
“The idea behind U2 is always to make the worst seat in the house the best seat in the house,” Bono told Apple Music’s Zane Lowe. “This changes the whole dynamic on that. Most music venues [bigger than theatres] are sports venues. They’re built for sports, they’re not built for music. They’re not built for art. So this building was built for immersive experience in cinema and performance. You can’t come here for an ice hockey game.”
“The sound has been designed as a priority from the beginning,” added The Edge. “There’s nothing else like it in the world and won’t be for many, many years. I think the truth is that depending where you are in the venue, you will get your own very unique show.”
The pair also commented on the possibility of their residency expanding further still.
“I don’t know,” said Bono. “We’ll have to see if we like this. We’ll have to see if our audience love this. I think it’s going to be hard to get us out of here. We’re not touring Achtung Baby anyway. With The Joshua Tree, we took that album around the world. This will only be here.”
“Don’t forget it’s 18,000 to 20,000 people a night so you’re not going to be doing 100 shows,” noted The Edge. “I mean, it’s impossible.”
Last week, MSG announced “Sphere Experiences” as part of its opening programming at MSG Sphere at The Venetian in Las Vegas. The concept will launch this October with a “first-of-its-kind” immersive production Postcard from Earth.
ASM taps Brian Celler for newly created role
ASM Global has appointed seasoned executive Brian Celler to the newly-created role of SVP, content and programming, Europe.
The major label veteran brings more than 25 years of experience in major live events, international marketing, and artist management.
He will be responsible for leading ASM’s live entertainment offering, driving “high-calibre, diverse content” across the company’s venue portfolio in the UK and Europe, including AO Arena in Manchester, P&J Live Aberdeen, OVO Arena Wembley, First Direct Arena in Leeds, Friends Arena Stockholm and Rudolf Weber-Arena Oberhausen.
“I am delighted to welcome Brian to ASM Global. Brian comes armed with tremendous international experience, and a fantastic reputation as a highly skilled live events industry professional,” says Chris Bray, ASM’s EVP, Europe. “Brian’s vision and ambition for our European content and programming operations will bring huge value as we look to the future, developing a diverse, relevant and truly exciting calendar of events across Europe.”
Celler began his music industry career in the production teams of bands such as Aerosmith, AC/DC and Metallica, going on to work as an artist manager with Q Prime, after which he ascended to progressively more senior roles in artist development and international marketing.
He developed award-winning creative campaigns for artists at Sony Music in New York and London, as well as at Universal Music Group UK in London where he served most recently as EVP and head of the label’s international team. He also oversaw all operations including creative, marketing, touring, production and content for U2 during an eight-year stint working as MD of Principle Management in Dublin and London.
“I’m honoured to join the incredible ASM Global team in a role that aligns perfectly to my passions for the future of our industry and leverages the diversity of experience I’ve accumulated over the course of my career,” says Celler. “I’m inspired to support ASM Global’s mission to redefine what world-class content looks and feels like to live event fans. I ‘m very much looking forward to getting started.”
John Boyle, global chief content officer at ASM Global, adds: “Brian is the consummate music business and live event executive. He has spent his entire career working with big artists on an international level. He is incredibly well-respected around the world, and there is nothing he hasn’t seen or done. I really look forward to having him on our Global Content team, and I am certain he will add significant value to our business”.
Global Promoters Report: South Korea
At the epicentre of K-pop, everything moves at lightning speed. With quarantine measures lifting in 2022, the region’s hunger for live shows reaching ravenous extremes, population growing, and its IT platforms outperforming any in the world, South Korea’s live music culture has not so much bounced as catapulted back to life.
“This country is an extremely trendy market, with everything moving fast, including fashion, trends etc,” says Tommy Jinho Yoon, CEO of ACI Live Asia, one of the region’s biggest promoters alongside Live Nation, Creativeman, Summer Sonic, and Ovation Productions. “Everything needs to be done quickly, and there is no time for patience. This is the general mentality of the pop culture in South Korea, and it’s been like this for many years. Korea has always been aggressive towards the entertainment world, meaning people really love music and live shows here. Regardless of any economic changes and challenges that may be faced through the region, there will always be demands for shows here.”
Pre-pandemic, ACI had launched YOURSUMMER Festival, the first festival in Korea to consist largely of international acts (including Rita Ora and Zedd) and saw their show with The 1975 sell out at Seoul’s Olympic Hall. Such levels of international action are swiftly returning to the region. But as K-pop has become a global sensation; Yoon argues that the
business has grown unnecessarily combative in South Korea.
“Collaborating with pop and K-pop artists who are already popularly established in Korea, are the best methods of building an artist here”
“Competition would have to be one of the primary challenges yet also one of the biggest ways of creating opportunities,” he says. “If there is one artist everyone wants, several promoters make several offers, resulting in a bidding war. No holds barred! I’m sure this sort of challenge takes place in other regions as well, but from our experiences having offices in Korea and the US, we see Korea’s competitiveness is at a much higher level, resulting in promoters having no respect for one another.
“Japan still seems to better-understand the meaning of respect in the business world […] generally speaking, there is less of a war in the entertainment world in Japan compared to South Korean entertainment companies.”
The popularity of K-pop is also the key to success for new artists wanting to break in the territory, say Live Nation Korea’s Steven Kim and Yongbae Cho, who say artists’ overall style should be relevant to current K-pop trends.
“Collaborating with pop and K-pop artists who are already popularly established in Korea, are the best methods of building an artist here,” they explain. “Younger fans in Korea are more drawn to discover new artists online who are actively communicating with their followers on social media, sharing their other attributes besides music, for example, talking about and/or sharing their looks, taste in fashion, lifestyle, celebrity friends, and so on.”
“Regardless of the technology advancements, the fundamental ingredients that formed music was from the hearts for the hearts”
Yoon emphasises the importance of trust and firm relationships within the live music industry – alongside a firm grip on social media promotion – as key to success.
“Due to our long history of being one of the promoters that essentially created the international show market and festivals in the region for [the] last 25 years, we have accumulated a person-to-person, relationship-based community with fans, which still plays a very valuable and undeniably important role. And we believe it will always remain as one of, if not the most important tools to sustain concert marketing in the region, regardless of the technical advancement of the marketing world in the future.”
By establishing a unified network of promoter allies across southeast Asia as “the engine to sustain and enhance the development of international tours,” Yoon sets a sense of loyalty between artists, managers, agents, promoters, and fans at the core of a successful South Korean strategy.
“Regardless of the technology advancements, the fundamental ingredients that formed music was from the hearts for the hearts,” he says. “As we promote shows, rather than just looking at numbers, we try to connect with the audience for better communication and to genuinely provide better foundations and to educate each other, which motivates and results in new innovations. Although Korea is extremely trendy and everything moves quickly, there’s still the essence of the basic human foundation that respects genuine music from the heart, regardless of genre. I believe this applies to anywhere in the world.”
The Global Promoters Report is published in print, digitally, and all content is also available as a year-round resource on the IQ site. The Global Promoters Report includes key summaries of the major promoters working across 40+ markets, unique interviews and editorial on key trends and developments across the global live music business.
To access all content from the current Global Promoters Report, click here.
Live Nation buys renowned Portuguese promoter
Live Nation has reportedly bought a controlling stake in Portugal’s leading promoter Ritmos e Blues (Rhythm and Blues).
Founded in 1990 by Nuno Braamcamp and Álvaro Ramos, the company has promoted concerts for the likes of Whitney Houston, Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams, Dire Straits, Michael Jackson, Prince, Phil Collins, U2, Rolling Stones, George Michael and The Police.
Ritmos e Blues was responsible for several of the first stadium concerts in the country, including a groundbreaking event with Tina Turner at the Estádio de Alvalade in 1990 with 65,000 spectators.
The Lisbon-based firm is also a co-producer of Rock in Rio Lisbon, one of the biggest music festivals in Europe, which has been taking place since 2004.
Ritmos e Blues was responsible for several of the first stadium concerts in the country
Live Nation confirmed to IQ it has purchased an “indirect controlling stake” in Ritmos e Blues and Arena Atlântico, which owns the country’s largest arena, Altice Arena in Lisbon.
Arena Atlântico is controlled by a consortium that includes Ritmos e Blues, Luís Montez (owner of the promoter Música no Coração) and Jorge Vinha da Silva, among others. Its subsidiaries include the ticketing company BlueTicket, which Live Nation will also take control of.
“Daily operations at the arena will continue to be led by their senior management team and the arena’s employees,” Live Nation told IQ. “The acquisition is expected to close later this year upon completion of customary closing conditions, including approval from Portugal’s competition authority.”
The Competition Authority is accepting comments on the deal for the next 10 days.
The 21,000-capacity Altice Arena (formerly MEO Arena) last year recorded the best financial results in its 25-year history, closing the year with more than €16 million in revenue.
The deal solidifies a partnership between Live Nation and Ritmos e Blues that dates back to 2012, when the companies joined forces with Rock in Rio’s promoter to “substantially grow the live events market”.
Forthcoming shows promoted by the Portuguese promoter include Madonna, Blink 182, Louise Tomlinson, Ricky Gervais, Rod Stewart, Michael Bublé and Il Divo.
US senators introduce Unlock Ticketing Markets Act
US senators yesterday (26 April) introduced legislation intended to improve competition in live event ticketing markets.
The Unlock Ticketing Markets Act, sponsored by senators Richard Blumenthal and Amy Klobuchar, would allow the Federal Trade Commission to prevent the use of “excessively long” multi-year exclusive contracts that “lock out competitors, decrease incentives to innovate new services, and increase costs for fans”.
“Today’s primary ticketing market is dominated by one company that by some estimates has locked up 70 to 80% market share and has used its dominance to pressure venues to agree to ticketing contracts that last up to ten years, insulating it from competition,” notes the announcement.
Klobuchar said: “Right now, one company is leveraging its power to lock venues into exclusive contracts that last up to ten years, ensuring there is no room for potential competitors to get their foot in the door. Without competition to incentivise better services and fair prices, we all suffer the consequences. The Unlock Ticketing Markets Act would help consumers, artists, and independent venue operators alike by making sure primary ticketing companies face pressure to innovate and improve.”
“Right now, one company is leveraging its power to lock venues into exclusive contracts that last up to ten years”
Also yesterday, senators introduced a bipartisan bill, called the Transparency in Charges for Key Events Ticketing (TICKET) Act, which requires ticketing companies to disclose upfront full ticket prices, including fees, for concerts, sporting events and other large gatherings.
The new bill follows the recent reintroduction of the Junk Fee Prevention Act, which would eliminate “excessive” ticketing fees for concerts and other events.
It also comes as lawmakers wage a broader battle against ticket sellers. In December, Taylor Swift fans sued Live Nation after its Ticketmaster site crashed during presales for the artist’s Eras Tour. The presale prompted a US Senate antitrust panel, organised by Klobuchar and senator Mike Lee, to look into a “lack of competition in ticketing markets”.
Ticketmaster also pledged to offer partial refunds for “unduly high” ticketing fees charged in the Verified Fan sale for The Cure’s upcoming North American tour, after criticism from group leader Robert Smith.
In the wake of the Swift controversy, Ticketmaster parent Live Nation launched the Fair Ticketing Act, which says that artists should decide resale rules; selling speculative tickets should be illegal; the scope of the BOTS Act needs to be expanded and enforced; and there needs to be industry-wide all-in pricing so fans see the full cost they are paying up front.
More than 20 music organisations including CAA, UTA, Wasserman Music and WME have come out in support of the act.
Morgan Wallen sued over cancelled concert
US country music star Morgan Wallen is being sued over the last-minute cancellation of his stadium concert in Mississippi.
The singer-songwriter was due to play a 60,000-cap show at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford on Saturday (22 April). However, moments before he was due on stage, fans were informed he had “lost his voice and is unable to perform tonight”.
In a social media post the next day, Wallen said: “After last night’s show I started losing my voice so I spent the day resting up, talking to my doctor and working through my vocal exercises trying to get better. I really thought I’d be able to take the stage and it kills me to deliver this so close to showtime, but my voice is shot and I am unable to sing.”
As a result of the cancellation, one ticket-holder, Brandi Burcham, launched a class action lawsuit accusing the 29-year-old of breach of concert and negligence, reports TMZ.
“Even if ticket prices are refunded, no offer has been made to reimburse concert goers for other out-of-pocket expenses they incurred in connection with the concert cancellation, including transportation, lodging, food, merchandise sales, transaction fees, and other such expenses,” it stated.
“The sudden cancellation raises red flags and should be investigated”
While the original lawsuit has since been voluntarily dismissed, Mississippi-based legal firm Langston & Lott says it is planning to re-file with a new plaintiff.
“We have been contacted by numerous individuals who spent thousands of dollars – separate and apart from the cost of their ticket – who would like to seek legal redress as well,” it says. “The second lawsuit, like the first, will seek compensation on behalf of all those affected, not just one person.”
At least one other law firm is also pursuing the case. Benjamin Philley of Kilpatrick & Philley writes on Facebook: “Folks, if you spent your hard earned money to attend the Morgan Wallen concert tonight, do not accept a refund that requires a signed release. The sudden cancellation raises red flags and should be investigated.
“A refund of the ticket price is insufficient to compensate us for our actual out of pocket expense. Like everyone affected, I want answers and will not rest until I get them. More information from our legal team investigating this matter will be forthcoming.”
Wallen, who has also postponed tour dates in Michigan, Illinois and Nebraska, scored the seventh highest-grossing tour in North America in 2022, generating $121.5 million from his 63-date run. His current 2023 One Night at a Time world tour, produced by Live Nation in North America and Frontier Touring for Australia/New Zealand, kicked off in New Zealand and Australia in March with before hitting the United States earlier this month.