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Madonna Announces 2012 World Tour Dates

Madonna

The queen of pop will kick off a 50-plus-date trek on May 29 in Tel Aviv, Israel and perform in Australia for the first time in 20 years.

Fresh of her halftime performance at Super Bowl XLVI (which was viewed by a record 114 million people) comes details of the Madonna 2012 World Tour. The trek will begin May 29 in Tel Aviv, Israel, and will be her most extensive tour ever in terms of number of dates, according to Arthur Fogel, CEO of Live Nation Global Touring, worldwide producers of the tour. The tour will take Madonna to Australia for the first time in 20 years, as well as many markets she has never played before.

This will be Madonna's fifth tour with Fogel and Live Nation, and second under her long-term multi-rights deal with the promoter. Her last tour, 2008-2009's Sticky & Sweet, grossed $408 million according to Billboard Boxscore, the highest ever for a solo artist and third-highest of all time. Prior to that, Madonna's 2006 Confessions Tour grossed $194 million, according to Boxscore, then the highest ever for a female artist.

The 2012 tour will follow the release of Madonna's new album MDNA, due March 26 on Live Nation Entertainment/Interscope Records, which creates myriad cross-promotional opportunities, according to Fogel. Having the recording and touring (not to mention merchandising and other rights) under one umbrella "gives you the freedom to line up all the different elements to sell tickets and to sell records," he says. "It's as great a set-up as you could have. If this doesn't work, I'm going into plumbing."

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The tour will play arenas, stadiums and unique outdoor sights, including the Plains of Abraham in Quebec. Fogel tells Billboard.com that production for the tour is in the conceptual stages, but did say, "it will be big and can get bigger," depending on the venue.

The tour will play 26 European markets, including London, Paris, Milan and Berlin, before hitting North American shores beginning Aug. 28 in Philadelphia. Twenty-six shows are planned for North America, including a Sept. 6 show at New York's Yankee Stadium, and an Oct. l0 performance at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Tickets are scheduled to go on sale beginning Feb. 10 in Tel Aviv and the U.K., with North American tickets going on sale beginning Feb. 13. Tickets for North America are available at Ticketmaster.com and LiveNation.com.

Madonna will play North America until just before Thanksgiving, then head to Latin America to tour until the holidays, then wrap the tour in Australia in early 2013, Fogel says. The entire tour will end up with close to 90 shows, which would be the most ever for Madonna; Sticky & Sweet ended up with 85 dates.

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When all is said and done, the upcoming tour will be one of the highest-grossing treks in history, potentially giving her two tours in the top five all time. Fogel says ticket scaling will be "almost identical" to Sticky & Sweet, though venue capacities will vary.

While there are "certain variables" that come with routing a Madonna tour, Fogel says planning begins with the amount of time the artist makes available for touring and then producers using that time to maximum effect. "There's basically an established window and we need to fit into that window whatever we can that makes sense logistically," he says. "Of the shows we're doing, I'd say 25%-30% will be markets she's never played before. There's still a few left. We'll get to these markets where she's never been, some exciting new places, and get back to Australia after too long a time."

While Madonna's first headlining tour was in 1985, the upcoming run will only be her ninth. Sticky & Sweet was a monster by any measure, and included some blockbuster dates in a wide range of territories, 32 countries in all. Madonna sold 650,000 tickets in South America, 72,000 tickets at Zurich's Dübendorf Airfield -- the largest attended concert ever in Switzerland -- 75,000 tickets in London, and four sellouts at New York's Madison Square Garden that sold 60,364 tickets. That tour wrapped where the next one begins, Tel Aviv.

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As a touring artist, Madonna is relatively "fresh" compared to some artists with similar career longevity. "When I started working with her on the 2001 tour, she hadn't toured since the early '90s," Fogel points out. "The last tour was her biggest tour ever, it propelled her into the top-grossing tours of all time and was the top tour ever by a solo artist, and that was 25 years into her career. Whatever there is to be said, the facts speak for themselves: she's never been bigger, and she's a great performer with a great catalog and a great new record. She's one of those iconic legends at the top of her game."

Over the past decade, Madonna tours have moved into that elite status of the "event" tour, where the tour itself becomes a cultural touch point. And while there are other acts that are hugely popular on a global scale (Fogel works with a couple of them, including U2 and Lady Gaga) a Madonna tour remains a unique animal in terms of striking a chord with a passionate fan base and generating media coverage. "There are people out there who always want to set it up as her against other artists that have emerged, but the truth is they're all unique and great and have their space in the hearts and minds of fans," Fogel says. "I don't even think about that stuff, it's irrelevant."

In addition to her Super Bowl performance, the last week also saw the release of Madonna's new single, "Give Me All Your Luvin." According to today's announcement, pre-orders for MDNA have already catapulted the record to No. 1 on iTunes in 51 countries, including the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, Spain, Canada, Italy, Sweden and the Netherlands.

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U.S. residents ordering tickets online to a U.S. performance will receive their choice of a digital or physical copy of Madonna's new MDNA album with every ticket purchased. Citi is the official credit card of U.S. leg of the tour, and Citi cardmembers will have access to presale tickets beginning Feb. 8 through Citi's Private Pass Program.

Lifetime Legacy members of Icon, Madonna's official fan club, will receive first access to tickets and VIP Packages starting today. Registered free Icon members will have the opportunity to purchase an Icon Live Pass, which gives them access to ticket and VIP Package pre-sales. Fans can sign up for a free Icon membership at Madonna.com today.

VIP Packages will are available through VIP Nation, including premium seats, exclusive merchandise and more. For more information please visit: www.VIPNation.com

Viagogo, Europe's leading secondary ticketing company, has been named as the Official Premium and Secondary Ticketing Partner for Madonna's 2012 summer tour dates across Europe.

Twitter: @billboard