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$1bn artists line up global tours as confidence builds

Some of the world’s biggest artists, collectively worth more than US$1 billion in ticket revenue between 2018 and 2020, will hit the road again in 2021 and ’22, as confidence builds for a return to international touring over the next 12 months.

Sir Elton John, Celine Dion, Metallica, Michael Bublé, Guns N’ Roses, Bruce Springsteen and Eagles – all of whom ranked among the highest-grossing tours of 2018, 2019 and 2020, grossing more than $1bn between them – have in recent weeks revealed plans for new or rescheduled global tours, many of them starting as soon as this summer.

Sir Elton has extended his disrupted final tour, Farewell Yellow Brick Road, with a bumper 30-date, six-month stadium run across across mainland Europe, the UK and the United States.

https://twitter.com/eltonofficial/status/1407684876338405378

“Hello, all you wonderful fans out there. I’m coming to you today with an announcement I’ve been working towards for, well, all my life: the shows that I announce today will be my final tour dates ever in North America and Europe,” he says in a statement.

“I’m going to go out in the biggest possible way, performing at my very best, with the most spectacular production I’ve ever had, playing in places that have meant so much to me throughout my career.

“Whether it’s next summer in Frankfurt or at the legendary Dodger Stadium for the grand finale in the United States, I can’t wait to see you all on the road one last time. This has been an incredible tour so far, full of the most amazing highs, and I look forward to making more wonderful memories with you at these final shows.”

The Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour, Sir Elton’s farewell tour, was brought to a halt by the coronavirus pandemic last March, with the last show on 7 March 2020 at Bankwest Stadium in Parramatta, Australia. The tour resumes on 1 September at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin and will conclude in Australasia in 2023.

The tour, produced and promoted by AEG Presents, grossed $212 million in 2019 and $71.2m in 2020.

“I’m going to go out in the biggest possible way, performing at my very best”

Springsteen, who grossed an incredible $88.3m from his Springsteen on Broadway shows, which had an average ticket price of $509, in 2018, also has live plans for 2022.

As well as reviving Springsteen on Broadway, Springsteen confirmed to E Street Radio on SiriusXM he is planning a full tour with his E Street Band in 2022. “I knew we were going to tour with the band next year,” he said, “[but] I had a friend who got so enthusiastic about it [Springsteen on Broadway] that he talked me into it sitting on my couch one night. The next day I said, ‘OK, we’ll do some shows.’ It really came around kind of casually.”

Eagles, meanwhile recently added another six dates to their long-delayed Hotel California tour, which kicks off at Madison Square Garden in New York in August.

While the band has only announced the rescheduled US dates so far (the first leg ends at Chase Center in San Francisco on 23 October 2021), pre-pandemic the Live Nation-promoted tour included included dates in London (Wembley Stadium) and Los Cabos, Mexico (Cabo en Vivo), so it is expected that additional European and Latin American shows are still to be announced.

Eagles grossed $166m from their 2018 North American tour.

Metal titans Metallica earlier this month announced six European festival shows for 2022, adding to the open-air shows pencilled in for the US in September, October and November 2021.

“We have waited far too long to say these words: we’re getting back out there”

Under the banner The Return of the European Summer Vacation, the band will play headline shows at Denmark’s Copenhell, the Netherlands’ Pinkpop, Italy’s Firenze Rocks, the Czech Republic’s Prague Rocks, Belgium’s Rock Werchter, Spain’s Mad Cool and Portugal’s NOS Alive. .

“We have waited far too long to say these words: we’re getting back out there and are finally announcing our return to Europe in 2022,” say Metallica in a statement. “Needless to say, we cannot wait to see all of you once again as our European ’tallica Family will finally have a chance to reunite in June and July of next year.”

The festivals next year will be Metallica’s first European shows since their Worldwired global tour, which grossed a total of $179m in 2019.

Elsewhere, Bublé (who grossed $115.8m in 2019 and $24.8m in 2020) is resuming his An Evening With Michael Bublé tour in North America in August, while Dion’s (2020 gross: $71.2m) postponed Courage world tour will finally kick off the same month in Winnipeg.

Also resuming a postponed tour this summer are Guns’ N Roses, whose world stadium tour – newly rechristened We’re F’n’ Back! – will begin at Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey, Pennsylvania, on 31 July 2021. The tour will include Australasian dates later this year and a string of European stadium shows next summer.

Opening the tour will be the late Eddie Van Halen’s bassist, son Wolfgang, with his band Mammoth WVH.

 


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ICM Partners wins Celine Dion legal battle

Major US agency ICM Partners has won a legal battle over unpaid commissions from a deal negotiated and procured for former client Celine Dion with AEG.

The superstar signed a $500 million multi-year touring and performing contract with AEG in 2017 but was dropped by her representative of over 30 years Rob Prinz (ICM partner and co-head of worldwide concerts) in 2019 after failing to pay commission.

ICM sued the singer to receive the unpaid funds and the company announced on Wednesday (18 November) that the California labour commissioner ruled in its favour, upholding the terms of the contract even after the representation has ended.

The ruling states: “Although the Omnibus Agreement (Dion’s agreement with AEG negotiated by ICM and Prinz) is valued at a staggering half a billion dollars, the labour commissioner has dealt with similar matters, albeit not in this monetary range.

“In similar fact patterns, we have consistently applied the rule stating. [A] talent agency is generally entitled to receive post-termination commissions for all employment secured by the agency prior to its termination.”

“[The ruling] unequivocally confirmed ICM’s and Rob Prinz’s right to commission an extremely lucrative deal”

The labour commissioner cited fellow cases, including ICM Partners v James Bates, Paradigm Talent Agency v Charles Carroll and Endeavor Agency v Alyssa Milano, in the decision.

“Further, [c]ommissions are owed post termination for monies negotiated by the agent during the term of the agreement and the artist cannot unilaterally determine there is no further obligation to pay for work already performed.”

Patricia Glaser, litigation counsel for ICM Partners says: “We are very pleased that the labour commissioner listened to the testimony of numerous witnesses over several days and reviewed a significant number of documents before issuing a very thoughtful 32-page opinion which unequivocally confirmed ICM’s and Rob Prinz’s right to commission an extremely lucrative deal which they were instrumental in negotiating and procuring.”

Rick Levy, general counsel, ICM Partners says: “This ruling leaves no doubt that Rob Prinz and ICM not only had a legally enforceable agreement to commission Ms Dion’s AEG deal, but that, throughout her brilliant career, Rob represented her in an exemplary manner, culminating in an unprecedented touring and residency contract.

“As the labour commissioner found, agents have every right to be paid for the work they do for their clients, especially where, as here, Rob’s more than two decades of hard work resulted in raising her compensation to dizzying new levels.”

 


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Elton John records biggest tour in Covid-hit H1 2020

With gross earnings of nearly US$90 million, Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road was the biggest tour globally in the first half of 2020 according to the latest Pollstar box-office numbers.

The site’s mid-year Top 100 Worldwide Tours shows Sir Elton had grossed $87.1m from 38 shows, with a total of 664,749 tickets sold, when concert touring ground to a pandemic-induced halt in March. (The ‘mid-year’ reporting period runs from 21 November 2019 to 20 May 2020, though the final show of John’s only 2020 touring period, at Western Sydney Stadium in Australia, took place months before, on 7 March.)

Sir Elton’s AEG-promoted success down under outshone his nearest competition to the tune of $16m, Celine Dion placing second with Courage world tour, which played arenas in North America from September to March. Another AEG tour, Courage grossed $71.2m from 33 shows, with 408,407 tickets sold.

Third and fourth, and the only other artists grossing more than $50m, were Trans-Siberian Orchestra and U2, respectively, while fifth-placed Post Malone recorded $38.8m from 22 dates.

Live Nation, unsurprisingly, retains its crown as the number-one promoter; Madrid’s WizInk Center is a new entry for top arena, having sold 30,000 more tickets than second-placed Madison Square Garden.

 


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More high-profile acts join Lady Gaga-curated benefit gig

A host of new artists have joined the line-up for One World: Together at Home, a livestreamed benefit concert co-curated by Lady Gaga in celebration of health workers and in support of the World Health Organisation’s Covid-19 solidarity response fund.

Taylor Swift, Jennifer Lopez, Christine and the Queens, the Killers, Sam Smith, Alicia Keys, Usher and Celine Dion join previously announced acts Stevie Wonder, Billie Eilish, Elton John, Lizzo, John Legend, Paul McCartney, J Balvin and many more for the mega charity concert, which is taking place on Saturday 18 April from 8 p.m. (EDT).

First announcing the event last week, Gaga revealed she had helped to raise $35 million for the WHO fund, which is dedicated to funding protective equipment for health workers and efforts to find a Covid-19 vaccine.

On Monday, the singer called on world leaders including Canada’s Justin Trudeau, France’s Emmanuel Macron and EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen to contribute funds to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (Cepi) and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, organisations seeking to find a vaccine for the Covid-19 coronavirus.

As part as the One World: Together at Home initiative, Global Citizen, the social action platform that has partnered with the WHO to produce the event, is calling on individuals, philanthropists, investors and business to support global health efforts.

“We are incredibly grateful for the continued support from the artist community to make One World: Together At Home a moment of global unity”

“We are grateful to the private sector who have listened to the public’s call for action and come together to support the global response to Covid-19,” says Hugh Evans, co-founder and CEO of Global Citizen. “This pandemic is too large for governments to tackle alone.

“We are also incredibly grateful for the continued support from the artist community to make One World: Together At Home a moment of global unity,” continues Evans. “Our hope for the special is that everyone will come away believing that we, as a shared humanity, can emerge from this moment forever grateful for the work of doctors, nurses, teachers, grocery store workers, and all those who are the backbone of our communities.”

One World: Together at Home, which will be hosted by US talk show hosts Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel and Stephen Colbert, will be broadcast live across US television networks ABC, CBS and NBC, as well as being streamed online.

Internationally, the UK’s BBC One will show an adapted version of the concert the following day from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. (BST), including exclusive performances from UK artists and interviews with frontline health workers. Additional international broadcasters include AXS TV, beIN Media Group, IMDb, MultiChoice Group, and RTE.

There will also be a globally curated digital show beginning at 2 p.m. EDT/6 p.m. GMT. Streaming partners include Alibaba, Amazon Prime Video, Apple, Facebook, Instagram, LiveXLive, Tencent, Tencent Music Entertainment Group, TIDAL, TuneIn, Twitch, Twitter, Yahoo, and YouTube.

Photo: proacguy1/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0) (cropped)

 


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AEG pegs BST 2019 as greenest event yet

AEG Presents has introduced a series of new sustainability initiatives and community-based activities to make British Summer Time (BST) Hyde Park 2019 its most eco-friendly and inclusive yet.

BST Hyde Park returns this Friday (5 July) with an exclusive European performance from Celine Dion. Other performances over the ten-day event will come from Stevie Wonder, Barbra Streisand, Florence and the Machine and Robbie Williams.

Sustainable practices at the event include a zero waste to landfill policy, achieved through the use of biodegradable food packaging and cutlery. Heineken, BST’s drinks partner, is trialling a new plastic-free, 100% compostable paper cup. The majority of food traders (80%) will also offer meat-free options.

A post-event litter pick-up team will ensure no trace is left behind once the festival is over and a dedicated ‘Green Team’ will maximise recycling rates, introducing a new bin system to recycle previously non-recyclable plastics such as crisp packets, carrier bags and bottle caps.

Biodiesels such as hydrogenated vegetable oil (HVO) will be the fuel of choice to avoid the harmful diesel emissions produced by many live events.

Situated in the heart of London, a community impact management will be on site at BST, helping AEG to limit the effect on the local area. A four-day midweek event, Open House, will take place from Monday 8 to Thursday 11 July with movie nights, live music, street food, tennis screenings, family theatre and an ambient performance from Icelandic avant-rock band Sigur Rós.

“As a ten-day event with nearly half a million visitors each year we have a huge responsibility to deliver for our visitors, the local community and Hyde Park itself”

AEG are offering training and paid employment opportunities will be available to students at schools and universities and raising money for BST’s partner charities, including the Royal Parks charity and My Cause UK.

“We work very closely with AEG Presents to ensure our Sustainability Strategy is embedded into the British Summer Time event planning process and so we welcome the pioneering green practices being introduced this year,” says the Royal Parks head of events, Alun Mainwaring.

“As a ten-day event with nearly half a million visitors each year we have a huge responsibility to deliver for our visitors, the local community and Hyde Park itself,” comments AEG Presents senior events manager Jenny Hamada.

“We take this responsibility extremely seriously and work with our partner the Royal Parks year-round to build and implement positive initiatives.”

Another focus for the BST Hyde Park team is accessibility. AEG Presents celebrated a double win at the Outstanding Attitude Awards in March and recently receiving a gold status from Attitude is Everything for BST, the inclusivity-based music charity’s highest accolade.

Tickets for BST 2019 and more information about the festival can be found here.

 


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Celine Dion to headline first day of BST Hyde Park

AEG Presents has announced that Celine Dion will headline the opening night of British Summer Time (BST) in London’s Hyde Park on Friday 5 July.

The Canadian singer joins previously-announced headliners Florence and the Machine and Robbie Williams, who will play the event on Saturday 13 July and Sunday 14 July respectively.

It is the first time that Dion will perform on Hyde Park’s Great Oak Stage and the show is believed to be her only European appearance of the year. The five-time Grammy award winner will be the best-selling artist ever to perform at BST, having sold more than 240 million record worldwide.

“I’m so excited. I love London, and it’s a great honour for me to be part of the Barclaycard presents BST Hyde Park concerts. I can’t wait… summertime in London, here we come,” says the singer.

“Celine’s record-breaking career has seen her perform her many iconic songs on the globe’s most iconic stages, yet never before in Hyde Park,” comments senior vice president of AEG Presents, James King.

“I love London, and it’s a great honour for me to be part of the Barclaycard presents BST Hyde Park concerts”

Daniel Mathieson, head of experiential marketing and partnerships for event’s sponsor Barclaycard says it is a “privilege” to welcome the singer along with “a fantastic set of headliners”.

Launched in 2013, BST Hyde Park is back this year for its seventh edition. Past highlights include the Rolling Stones’ return to Hyde Park, and comeback shows by the likes of the Strokes and Libertines.

Rock legends Bob Dylan and Neil Young were originally set to co-headline this year’s event on 12 July, but following Young’s objection to the involvement of headline sponsor Barclaycard, the pair will now play a standalone concert. On the same date, and in the same venue.

Tickets for Celine Dion’s performance go on sale on 29 January at 9am, with presale tickets available from 23 January. The remaining headliners and full line-up are expected to be announced shortly.

 


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A week on, music returns to the City of Lights

One week on from the murder of 58 patrons of country music festival Route 91 Harvest, Las Vegas is returning to normality, with a string of emotionally charged performances by major artists helping the city to recover from the worst mass shooting in US history.

As expected, there were several cancellations in the wake of the attack – which saw gunman Stephen Paddock open fire on the open-air festival from the 32nd floor of the nearby Mandalay Bay hotel, killing 59 people, including himself, in the early hours of Monday morning – with Jennifer Lopez, Blue Man Group and Jason Aldean, who was performing at the time of the shooting, among those to call off scheduled shows.

However, Celine Dion, who is midway through an eight-year residency at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace (4,298-cap.), bucked the trend, returning to the stage on Tuesday night. Standing in front a screen reading “#VegasStrong”, the Canadian singer told the audience she had toyed with the idea of cancellation but ultimately decided to donate the proceeds of the concert to victims.

“On Sunday we lost too many beautiful, innocent souls, and so many are still suffering,” she said. “But tonight we’re going to let these families know that we are supporting them and that we will help them through their tragic loss.”

She continued: “We dedicate tonight’s show to all of the victims and their families, and to the first responders, and to the doctors and nurses who are working around the clock to save lives and to so many heroes who did whatever they could to help complete strangers in a time of desperate need.”

“Las Vegas returned almost immediately to its high-glitz version of normal … The shows go on”

Other performers opting to go ahead with planned shows included Billy Idol, who played the first night of his residency at House of Blues (1,800-cap.) on Wednesday, John Fogerty, who played the Encore Theatre (1,490-cap.) the same night, and Pete Yorn, who performed at the Beauty Bar (300-cap.) last Friday, additionally paying tribute to the late Tom Petty by opening with ‘I Won’t Back Down’.

Echoing the sentiments expressed after the Bataclan and Manchester Arena attacks, all emphasised the need for life to go on as normal and for live music to not be cowed be terrorism. “They can’t break me,” said Idol, “and they can’t break Las Vegas”, while Fogerty spoke of music having a “way of healing, and that is what we will do: come together and heal. We can’t let fear control our lives.”

Britney Spears, meanwhile, has confirmed she will continue her residency at the Axis at Planet Hollywood (7,000-cap.), saying she and the city will “get through this together”; Aldean, too, has returned to the site of the attack, meeting hospitalised survivors of the shooting after dedicating his performance Saturday Night Live the previous day to the city.

Figures from across the live music industry last week responded to the attack, with Route 91 Harvest promoter Live Nation, Canadian association Music Canada Live and Outside Lands organiser Superfly among those to have paid tribute to the victims.

“We are heartbroken”: Industry reacts to Route 91 tragedy

Revellers appear to have responded to performers’ faith in the city: According to local paper the Santa Fe New Mexican, Vegas has “returned almost immediately to its high-glitz version of normal after Sunday’s massacre of 58 people, the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. The shows go on. The roulette wheels spin, the dice fly and people carrying Coronas wander the strip alongside bubbly showgirls and a guy dressed as Chewbacca.”

But if the thrill-seekers of Las Vegas have already put Monday’s tragedy behind them, the nature of the attack – on an open-air festival, as opposed to the enclosed space of a venue or arena – is weighing more heavily on the minds of US festivalgoers. Raelene Wentz, who attended last weekend’s Desert Oasis festival in Indio, California, says had she not already bought tickets, she might have reconsidered attending – “We’re here and we already have the tickets,” she tells the Desert Sun. “[But] we’re definitely aware of where all the exits are” – while another, Rachel Livingstone, describes having “apprehension” about attending the event.

At Austin City Limits in Texas, meanwhile, “many fans and musicians acknowledged that the potential of a Las Vegas-style copycat had crossed their minds”, reports the The New York Times – although, at both festivals, the consensus seemed to be that to live in terror is to hand victory to terrorists. “I’m kind of the opinion things like that shouldn’t change your life,” says City Limits-goer Tyler Costolo. “At that point, you’re letting those kinds of things win.”

By number of concerts, Las Vegas is the sixth-biggest city in the US for live music, and the eighth in the world.

 


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Switzerland’s abc introduces “rigorous” bag ban

Zurich-based abc Production has become the latest promoter to ban backpacks in the aftermath of 22 May’s Manchester Arena bombing.

Under the new rules, those attending future abc shows – which include Justin Bieber at the Stade de Suisse (32,000-cap.) on 15 June, Aerosmith at Hallenstadion (13,000-cap.) on 5 July and The Rolling Stones at the Letzigrund stadium (30,930-cap.) on 20 September – will be limited to bum bags/money belts and bags no larger than an A5 sheet of paper (14.8 x 21 cm).

In a statement, the promoter says it is “aware of its great responsibility in security matters”. “As a consequence of the tragic events at Manchester Arena, as well as the constantly changing demands of tour safety and artist management, abc Production has decided to implement a rigorous backpack and bag ban on all shows,” it reads.

“As a consequence of the tragic events at Manchester Arena, abc Production has decided to implement a rigorous backpack and bag ban”

By banning rucksacks, abc follows German festivals Rock am Ring/Rock im Park, which last week announced no backpacks would be permitted in the festival arena. (Despite the increased security, the first day of the festival was called after receiving a “concrete warning” of an imminent terrorist attack.)

abc says a backpack ban will speed up entry, with “shorter waiting times” as a result of security staff not needed to search patrons’ bags.

 


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CEOC set to emerge from bankruptcy

American venue giant Caesars, which operates 47 casinos in five countries, has been given the go-ahead for its main operating unit to emerge from bankruptcy after two years in administration.

Caesars Entertainment Operating Co. Inc. (CEOC) is expected to emerge from chapter-11 bankruptcy protection later this year – with US$10 billion shaved off its $18bn debt burden – following the approval of its reorganisation plan yesterday by the bankruptcy court of northern Illinois.

Under the plan – which still requires the approval of gambling regulators – CEOC will separate its gambling operations and US property assets, with parent company Caesars Entertainment continuing to own and manage the the former and a newly created ‘real estate investment trust’ (REIT), owned by certain creditors, taking over the latter.

“While there is still much work ahead to complete this process, we are excited about the future of the Caesars enterprise”

“The new Caesars will be a stronger company with a healthy balance sheet, a plan for growth and investment, operating discipline and a relentless focus on employee and customer satisfaction,” says group CEO and president Mark Frissora. “Upon CEOC’s emergence, we will be positioned to strengthen our financial and operational performance by pursuing new opportunities to invest in and expand our brands and business. While there is still much work ahead to complete this process, we are excited about the future of the Caesars enterprise.”

Many CEOC casinos also double as live entertainment venues, with its flagship venue, Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, hosting residencies by Celine Dion, Elton John and Rod Stewart this spring.

 


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