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Wasserman’s Holly Rowland on the rise of Louis Tomlinson

Wasserman Music agent Holly Rowland has spoken to IQ about Louis Tomlinson’s 2023 European arena tour.

The former One Direction star is to embark on a 39-date outing across 28 countries next year, having recently completed a pandemic-delayed tour that spanned 57 dates in Europe, South America, Asia and Australia.

“Louis wanted to go everywhere,” says Rowland, who represents Tomlinson with Wassmerman’s Alex Hardee.

“One Direction never really toured Europe extensively – they did the major cities and the stadiums – but they never went to Eastern Europe for example. During their solo careers, Harry Styles has never done it and Niall Horan has never done it.”

Rowland believes that unlike Styles and Horan, who have also carved out solo careers since the best-selling boyband disbanded in 2016, Tomlinson’s worth is often underestimated.

“When I say I’ve booked a 39-date arena tour for Louis, people can’t believe it,” Rowland tells IQ. “They don’t believe his sales or the fact he has his own festival.”

“Even markets which are typically late sellers are nearly sold out even though the concerts are still a year away”

If Tomlinson was overlooked before, it all looks set to change now. Last Friday (18 November), the star beat Bruce Springsteen to score his first solo UK No. 1 album with ‘Faith In The Future’ via BMG. At the same time, ticket sales for his forthcoming tour are “really strong” despite going on sale a year in advance.

“It will sell out,” says Rowland. “London’s The O2 [cap. 21,000], for example, is on 90% and even markets which are typically late sellers, like Greece, are nearly sold out even though the concerts are still a year away.”

Rowland says it’s thanks to a symbiotic album-tour campaign that Tomlinson’s sales are strong on both the recorded and the live side.

“You wouldn’t typically go on sale with a tour so early but we needed to go out before the album so we could get the pre-orders,” she explains. “Synchronicity with recorded and live has sometimes been missed before but now, more than ever, it’s so important. An artist does well because their whole team is across everything and is communicating with each other.”

Rowland and Tomlinson’s team are particularly proud of the ticket prices for the tour, which start at £27.50 regionally.

“He’s a man of the people,” she says. “For example, he won’t do any golden circles or platinum or flexible ticketing or increased isle seating or paid meet-and-greets. That’s his philosophy.

“He won’t do any golden circles or platinum or flexible ticketing or increased isle seating or paid meet-and-greets”

“The issue nowadays is costs are going up so you have to cover your base but also keep it fair for the customer. The promoters crunched the numbers on their side and there was a lot of back and forth on the ticket price but obviously, the tour is spread across multiple dates so that helps. Plus it’s something Louis really wants to do.”

Promoters working on Tomlinson’s forthcoming tour include Live Nation (Slovenia, Hungary, Bulgaria), 8 Days a Week (Baltics), Pop Farm (Greece), Follow The Step (Poland), Charmenko (Romania), Fource Entertainment (Czech Republic) and SJM (UK).

The Faith In The Future 2023 outing is the follow-up to Tomlinson’s first world tour, which concluded in September, having been pushed back due to the pandemic.

Highlights from the tour include South America – “one of Louis’s biggest markets” – which saw the star sell 30,000 tickets in Brazil, 30,000 in Buenos Aires and 21,000 in Mexico.

Rowland also notes an open-air show in Milan, Italy, at the beginning of September, which saw 34,000 tickets fly off the shelf in 48 hours.

2022 also saw the evolution of Tomlinson’s own festival, Away From Home, which launched last year in Crystal Palace Park, London, and was free to attend.

“Louis’s fanbase is so loyal and they hang on every word he says”

This year the event moved to Malaga in Spain and featured The Vaccines, Sun Room, Stone and Hinds, all of whom performed alongside Tomlinson. This time around the event was ticked and Rowland says it sold 15,500 tickets in two days.

“I programmed it [alongside Louis] so it was quite fun to be on the other side of things, being the promoter and offering out supports to agents,” says Rowland.

Launching a festival was the natural progression for Tomlinson, who is known to hand-pick his own tour supports – many of whom go on to see great success, according to Rowland and Hardee.

“His fanbase is so loyal and they hang on every word he says,” says Rowland. “He’ll go onstage after the support acts and say ‘How amazing were they, go out and follow them,’ and that’s what his fans do because they really believe in him and trust him.”

Rowland notes that Tomlinson’s fanbase is surprisingly young – between 14–18 years old – which translates into strong merchandise sales, thanks to the parent pound.

“He can’t hide from his past in One Direction but we need to respect his path and see him for the artist he wants to be”

“What’s crazy is that his fanbase is so young, they weren’t even around when One Direction were having their heyday. They must’ve found the band through siblings or something…” she notes.

When asked if it has been difficult to extricate Tomlinson from his previous work in One Direction, Rowland says: “He can’t hide from his past – One Direction were one of the biggest boybands of all time – but we need to respect his path and see him for the artist he wants to be and not who he was.

And as for comparisons to his former bandmates’ solo careers, she adds: “Harry is pop, Niall is more singer-songwriter and Louis is indie. That’s the music he loves and you can see that through the acts he requests to support him. It’s time now to shine the light on who he is.”

 


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