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Madonna will embark on an international tour in support of her new album, Rebel Heart, an all-arena trek that will take the artist to territories she hasn’t visited in decades, if ever, Billboard has learned. An announcement from tour producer Live Nation is expected today.
The Rebel Heart world tour launches Aug. 29 at American Airlines Arena in Miami that will begin a run through North American arenas of about 25 to 30 shows through October, with additional dates likely to be added as certain shows sell out. The artist then will head to the U.K. and Europe for a run of 20 to 25 shows beginning in November through the third week in December.
In early 2016, Madonna will take Rebel Heart to Asia and Australia, with those dates expected to be announced by the end of March. The tour is produced by Live Nation’s Global Touring division, led by chairman Arthur Fogel. Rebel Heart will be Fogel’s fifth tour with Madonna, a relationship that has produced more than $1 billion in Boxscore grosses, with 7.8 million tickets sold to 289 shows. That’s a remarkable per-show average of $3.8 million gross and 27,227 attendance, enough to make her the top female touring artist in the world.
Fogel, who also will be steering the U2 Innocence + Experience tour (which begins May 14 in Vancouver) and Lady Gaga/Tony Bennett Cheek to Cheek tour (which runs through July), is predictably bullish on the Madonna tour’s prospects, particularly with the reception to the artist’s new music. “Everything I’ve seen has all been incredibly positive,” Fogel tells Billboard. “Not only is she a major star with her live work, there has been a great reaction to this new music.”
Similar to Madonna’s last tour, MDNA, ($305 million gross, 2.2 million attendance, 88 shows, according to Boxscore), the new record will be bundled with the tickets, which will go on sale beginning March 9. The model will expose the record to more fans, as ticket sales for Madonna — and most superstars — tend to outpace album sales in today’s market. “Really, the key is to get the new music to as many people as possible,” says Fogel, “and [bundling] is a pretty obvious way to do that.”
The highly publicized December leak of unfinished demos for Madonna’s new music forced scrambling among her management (Guy Oseary at Maverick) and label (Interscope/Maverick), which quickly finished six tracks to offer as instant grat on iTunes pre-orders for the March 10 release. However, the leak — and resulting previews — did bring much attention to Madonna’s new music, which only can be viewed as a positive in setting up a world tour. “It’s kind of strange how it all came about, but it certainly hasn’t been a negative in terms of getting people engaged with the new music,” says Fogel. “Anything that helps put it out there is good, even if it happens in a weird way.”
Stellar performances on the Grammy Awards and Brit Awards provided juice to the setup, though Madonna’s frightening tumble at the latter likely produced near heart attacks for her handlers — she was not injured. Fogel particularly is excited about the Pacific Rim leg of Rebel Heart. “She has never played in Southeast Asia, and she hasn’t been in Australia or New Zealand in probably 25 years,” he notes. “It’s kind of bizarre when you think about it — that a superstar like that hasn’t been to a pretty regular touring area for 25 years.”
When Fogel began working with Madonna in 2001, though she already was an international star, she was not known as a particularly active touring artist. “She was probably the most underplayed superstar ever,” he says. “Since then, we’ve covered a lot of territory, but Asia and Australia are really the last major territories we’ll get to over the course of the last 15 years of touring.”
No sponsor has been inked for the tour, though Citi will offer a presale for many territories. Ticket scaling is the same as Madonna’s past few tours, with the top price in $300 to $350 range all the way down to $35. A support act has not been confirmed, though a DJ likely will open the shows.
Previous Madonna tours with Fogel include MDNA in 2012; Sticky & Sweet in 2008-09 ($408 million gross, 3.5 million tickets sold, biggest tour ever for a female artist); Confessions in 2006 ($194 million gross, 1.2 million tickets sold to 60 shows); and Re-Invention in 2004 ($125 million gross, 900,748 attendance).
This also will be the third — and, presumably, final — tour by Madonna under a 10-year multirights deal she inked with Live Nation in 2007, valued at a reported $120 million. The future of that partnership is unclear, given that Oseary’s Maverick Management (which also includes U2, which struck a similar deal with Live Nation) now is part of Artist Nation, Live Nation’s artist management division. Initially, the Live Nation/Madonna deal included recorded content (along with touring, merch, fan club/website, DVDs, some sponsorships and certain other music-related projects), but those recording rights were sold to Interscope in 2011 for a reported $40 million in a three-album deal, of which Rebel Heart is the second.
This article originally appeared on Billboard.com.
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