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According to sources, the 17-year-old was paid $1 million for his April 14 concert at Hayarkon Park, where Madonna had entertained some 56,000 back in 2009. (Says the show’s local producer Gadi Oron: “It is our policy not to talk about financial arrangements we reach with talent we promote.”) And while the frenzy was most certainly felt among Israeli tweens — one girl even came to the concert with a chuppah (the traditional Jewish wedding canopy) in hand — the show wasn’t exactly a sellout.
Local police estimated that 17,000 showed up for the 90-minute performance while event producers had the number at 24,000, well below the 35,000 attendees they had hoped to attract.
“They overpaid and did not market it right,” says Israeli promoter Shuki Weiss, who declined to bid on Bieber believing it would be a difficult sell. “I think it’s important for every artist to come to Israel, but you need to know your crowd.”
A poster advertising Bieber’s Tel Aviv show
Indeed, posters advertising the show were scant in the city, with the exception of areas surrounding Bieber’s hotel, and with ticket sales initially sluggish, a promotion offering free entry to parents was introduced, causing its share of headaches at the park’s gates.
But Weiss, who has brought over acts such as Linkin Park, Ozzy Osbourne and Missy Elliott, adds that the high price tag is not unusual. Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, who performed in the Jewish-Arab cooperative village Neve Shalom (“Oasis of Peace”) in 2006, pocketed almost $2.5 million from that gig. And there’s the matter of the many cancellations Israelis have had to contend with in recent years. Elvis Costello and the Pixies are just two acts who have called off confirmed shows days before they were to take the stage, each citing political reasons. It’s no surprise then that ticket buyers — and, in turn, other artists — might be skittish.
Still, promoter Oron is not complaining, telling THR, “[The sales] definitely met our expectations.” And neither is Bieber, who tweeted after taking his final bow, “AMAZING NIGHT … AMAZING PLACE …AMAZING SHOW!! NEVER GOING TO FORGET THIS ONE. #BLESSED.”
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