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Shake It Off: Despite Negative Press, Taylor Swift's Reputation Tour Could Be One of the Biggest of All Time
Taylor Swift is on track to chart one of the highest-grossing tours of all time, with projections that she could sell $450 million worth of tickets on her Reputation stadium tour which kicks off this summer.

Ticket sales could approach the half-billion dollar range as slower, steadier sales with higher returns replace sellouts as the barometer for success

Taylor Swift is on track to chart one of the highest-grossing tours of all time, with projections that she could sell $450 million worth of tickets on her Reputation stadium tour which kicks off this summer.

Swift is using a strategy deployed by Jay-Z and bands like The Rolling Stones – price tickets high and have seats available on the primary market up until the day of show. That means few, if any, early sellouts but huge revenues, as tickets, especially premium seats, are marked up much higher than previous tours. While several recent stories have warned of poor ticket sales – including a New York Post article this morning – those close to Swift say the “Look What You Made Me Do” singer sold $180 million worth of tickets in the first seven days of sales – that’s four days of sales through the Verified Fan platform and three days of sales to the general public that began Dec. 13. Swift is planning to add eight more shows to the North American leg of her tour for a total of 41 shows, with double, and in some cases triple, visits to major cities.

In markets like Los Angeles, Swift has sold 110,000 tickets for her May 18 and 19 concerts at the Rose Bowl, an increase of 36 percent over her 2015 visit, where she performed six shows at Staples Center for 81,000 fans. Thousands of tickets for both Rose Bowl concerts are still available and promoter Louis Messina told Billboard in December he was confident every show on the tour would sell out over the next five months. (The Reputation Tour kicks off May 8 in Glendale, Arizona.)

Sources now tell Billboard each show on the tour is forecast to sell between $7.5 million and $10 million worth of tickets. Couple that with six shows in Europe and five shows in Australia and New Zealand, and Swift is looking at earning anywhere between $390 million and $510 million for the Reputation Tour, putting her on track to have one of the top-grossing tours of all time based on Billboard Boxscores. (A request for comment from representatives for Swift and promoter AEG was not returned as of press time.)

Swift is looking at a huge earnout despite not having sold out a single show on her tour, a stark contrast from her 1989 Tour in 2015 which sold out in seconds. Swift watched as tickets were rapidly bought up by scalpers and bots and then resold on secondary sites like StubHub at high markups, sometimes three, four or five times face value. Hoping to capture more of the revenue for her Reputation Tour, Swift sold her tickets at much higher prices than in previous years, fetching upwards of $500 for floor seats, $800 for pit passes and $1,500 for VIP tickets.

The idea is to charge what people end up eventually paying for the ticket on the secondary market, capturing the revenue for the artist and making it more difficult for scalpers to flip the tickets on the secondary. While the practice does shift spending toward the artist, several ticketing professionals say they are concerned about how Swift’s high ticket prices will affect consumers.

At Houston’s NRG Stadium, where Swift plays Sept. 29, the cheapest tickets are $160 apiece, with some seats listed high up in the rafters selling for $230, meaning a young fan would have to pay between $400-$500 for a pair of tickets to her show.

“Whenever I see an upper deck ticket priced above $200 for a football stadium tour I have a hard time imagining that fan will leave the show thinking they got their money’s worth,” says Patrick Ryan, co-founder of ticketing and distribution company Eventellect. “Regardless of whether they bought that ticket on the primary or secondary market, $200 is a lot to spend on a seat literally in the rafters.”

While Ryan says he believes it is "good that the artist is taking a harder look at the ticket prices and isn’t focused on getting an immediate sellout,” he said the consequences of high ticket prices could mean fans "go to fewer sporting events and other concerts during that same time frame.”

"Overall, it’s good and smart for Taylor to price her tickets higher,” he says, "but it could cannibalize other games or shows, because for most consumers, they don’t have an endless budget.”

There’s also a larger question about whether the days of instant tour sellouts are gone, replaced by a “slow ticketing” model where platforms like Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan allow only a few fans to purchase tickets at a time. After running a month-long promotion for Taylor Swift Tix where fans were encouraged to buy her albums and merchandise in order to “boost” their chances of getting a good ticket, Swift began selling a small number of tickets to fans on Dec. 5, only allowing three people at a time into the purchase queue to complete transactions.

As each day of the Verified Fan presale passed, more buyers were allowed into the sales queue – the idea was to weed out scalpers who often overwhelm an onsale with ticketing bots and automated programs that allow them to buy up tickets faster than fans. What Ticketmaster wants to avoid is having all the tickets sell out in seconds and then have fans turn to sites like StubHub for available tickets.

"We’d like to sell the last ticket to her concert when she takes the stage each night,” David Marcus, executive vp and head of music at Ticketmaster, told Billboard last month. “We’re not trying to sell all of her tickets in one minute; we’re trying to figure out how to sell tickets in a more modern way.”

9

Beyoncé memeFavourite tour: The Formation World Tour

The Formation World Tour kicked off on April 27th 2016 in Miami, Florida and ended on October 7th 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. With 3 legs and a total of 49 sold-out shows, the tour grossed $256 million from 49 sold out shows according to Billboard Boxscore. The tour is one of the top 20 highest grossing tours of all time.

Billboard

One thousand nights ago, you might have been listening to Taylor Swift’s 1989 for the first time. You might have blasting “Blank Space,” learning how to sing along to “Style” and gearing up to dance along to “Shake It Off” on the inevitable 1989 tour. October 27, 2014 seems like a long time ago now — as of Sunday (July 23), it was 1000 days ago — and since the release of Swift’s fifth album, the pop superstar has stayed extremely busy.

Could we talk about her charity work, the Kanye West-Kim Kardashian West drama, the AT&T deal, the Tom Hiddleston? Of course. But let’s focus, as Taylor often does herself, on the music. As fans await Taylor Swift’s post-1989 full-length follow-up, let’s review the songs that she’s given us (or performed, or co-signed) since her last opus.


RELEASES

By the end of 2016, it had become clear that Taylor Swift was not going to continue her streak of releasing a full-length album every other year, as she had done from 2006 up to 1989 in 2014. Yet three weeks before the end of last year, Swift returned with her first post-1989 song: “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever,” a duet with Zayn that was part of the Fifty Shades Darker original soundtrack. Produced by Taylor’s pal Jack Antonoff and following in the success of Fifty Shades soundtrack songs like The Weeknd’s “Earned It” and Ellie Goulding’s “Love Me Like You Do,” “Forever” became Swift’s second soundtrack hit (following “Safe and Sound” from The Hunger Games) and peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song’s video, released last January, has a whopping 361 million YouTube views.

Swift has also spent the downtime between albums to collect a few songwriting credits: “Better Man,” Little Big Town’s latest country hit, was written by Swift… although it wasn’t revealed that the pop superstar had penned it until a few weeks after its October 2016 release. “Better Man” topped the Hot Country Songs chart, and has been performed by Swift exactly once (more on that later).

Meanwhile, Swift also sneakily co-wrote “This Is What You Came For,” Calvin Harris’ hit from last year featuring Rihanna, under the pseudonym “Nils Sjöberg.” She was eventually outed as having a hand in her ex’s Top 10 smash, and the song’s official credits now include Swift’s name. She has performed it exactly twice (more on that later).

Aside from those three songs, the big music news of Swift’s post-1989 run has been where her previous output has been available. After famously locking herself in a stalemate against Spotify and agreeing to have only Apple Music serve as her streaming host, Swift unleashed her catalog upon all streaming services — Spotify, Tidal and Amazon included — on June 9, 2017, the same day that Katy Perry just so happened to release her new album, Witness. Four of Swift’s albums, including 1989, returned to the Billboard 200 albums chart following the streaming free-for-all.

TOURING

The entirety of the 1989 world tour was contained in 2015, and the 85 shows became that year’s biggest tour, taking in more than $200 million worldwide, per Billboard Boxscore. The big difference between 1989 and Swift’s previous tours, of course, was that she graduated to stadiums from arenas on her latest live run, and she’ll likely continue in that format whenever she goes back on the road. The tour was also captured in The 1989 World Tour Live, a concert film shot in Sydney and released in partnership with Apple Music in December 2015.

LIVE PERFORMANCES

Ten months after her 1989 tour wrapped up, Swift decided to put on a one-off show last October at the Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix in Austin – her only performance of 2016, and the first time she played “This Is What You Came For” herself (in a solo piano version, no less!). “As a songwriter, the most rewarding feeling in the world is writing something and then having the crowd sing it back to you because they know the words,” Swift said during the show.

Swift played the track again at a pre-Super Bowl performance in Houston earlier this year, in an event dubbed the AT&T Presents DIRECTV NOW Super Saturday Night. She also played “Better Man” and “This Is What You Came For” at the show, which has been Swift’s only performance of 2017… so far.


MUSIC VIDEOS

By now, we’ve all seen the seven music videos that came from the 1989 era. Some fun stats about them: the three biggest videos (“Shake It Off,” “Blank Space” and “Bad Blood”) have become Swift’s first to cross the 1 billion mark on YouTube, while the controversial “Wildest Dreams” clip is one of Swift’s five most-viewed videos ever at this point (“You Belong With Me,” from Fearless, rounds out that top tier). The live video for “New Romantics” was unveiled as an Apple Music exclusive, and has 66 million YouTube views to date. Joseph Kahn directed four of the videos, including “Out of the Woods,” which was filmed in New Zealand.

AWARDS/ACHIEVEMENTS

Essentially, Swift released 1989 in October 2014 and the accolades started pouring in almost immediately after. She was named Billboard’s Woman of the Year in 2014, and “Shake It Off” was nominated for record of the year and song of the year at the 2015 Grammys. The song didn’t take home either prize, but Swift nabbed the big one the following year, when 1989 won album of the year at the Grammys in 2016. After previously winning the award for Fearless, Swift became the first female solo performer to win multiple AOTYs at the Grammys.

The Grammy win (along with two others in 2016) was simply the crown jewel in a long list of major achievements in the past 1000 days. Swift also won Video of the Year at the MTV VMAs in 2015 for “Bad Blood,” was given the 50th Anniversary Milestone Award at the ACM Awards that year, and 1989 became only the fifth album ever to spend its entire first year in the top 10 of the Billboard 200 chart. All told, 1989 has sold 6.1 million copies one thousand days into its existence, according to Nielsen Music, and in June, the RIAA certified Swift for having moved 100 million song units, second only to Rihanna among all artists in their rankings.

ADS

It’s worth noting that, while never commercially released, the sound of Swift rapping along to Drake and Future’s “Jumpman” does exist in this fair world. In a popular Apple Music ad, Swift rhymes along with the song on a treadmill before face-planting in epic fashion; she also toasted Jimmy Eat World’s “The Middle” and The Darkness’ “I Believe In A Thing Called Love” in separate Apple ads. Consider the homages a subtle co-sign of not just the songs in question, but of Apple’s playlist curation.

FRIEND SUPPORT

The cornerstone of Swift’s post-1989 music activity may very well be the role of “hypewoman” — that is, building up her pals and supporting their music online. She’s got mad love for squad members Lorde, Haim and Selena Gomez, and former tour mate Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” might have very well gotten a mini-bump due to an Instagram post in its favor. The biggest revelation for casual Swifies: Taylor’s still an enormous Kings of Leon fan! “I’ve been waiting for this album for SO LONG and it’s insane, you need it in your life,” she wrote of the rock band’s WALLS. Same with the 1989 follow-up, Taylor.

(Additional reporting by Sabrina Finkelstein)

[INTERVIEW] EXO - 170526 Billboard: “EXO Reflect on Latest U.S. Tour, Share Hint About Upcoming Album: Video Interview”

“About a year after their last tour in America, EXO returned to their U.S. fans to bring their Exo Planet 3 – The Exo'rdium tour to both coasts in their latest stateside stadium trek. The dazzling show that focused on tracks from their most recent album Ex'act (featuring the World Digital Song Sales No. 1s “Monster” and “Lotto”) included an acoustic section (that saw member Chanyeol playing guitar), breakout unit performances (featuring dance solos and ballad sections), along with LED screens and pyrotechnics to create some of the most impressive visuals seen from a K-pop concert in America. The K-pop sensation’s Inglewood, Calif. show at The Forum ranks at No. 8 on Billboard’s Current Boxscore chart this week, earning an impressive $1,436,158 for the late April show and making them the highest-ranking K-pop act on the chart this week.

Billboard caught up with the band at their New York date before for some pre-show reflections on how they’ve grown since their last tour, when we can expect their new album and more:

Plus, EXO thought deeply about their discography and concert setlist to decide which songs they would dedicate to their fellow members.“

Note! The post contains embedded videos, with subtitles, which may not be viewable on the dashboard. Please visit the blog to view those.

Credit: Billboard.

Coldplay Surpasses Madonna for No. 5 Highest Grossing Tour of All Time

The British band’s continuing A Head Full of Dreams Tour has now grossed $412 million.

Coldplay has passed Madonna to claim the No. 5 highest grossing tour of all time, according to ticket sales data reported to Billboard Boxscore.

The British band’s continuing A Head Full of Dreams Tour has now grossed $412 million, pulling ahead of Madonna’s Sticky & Sweet Tour, which earned $408 in revenue in 2008 and 2009.

The all-time highest grossing tour remains U2’s 360 Tour, which tallied a massive $736.4 million during its run from 2009 through 2011.

The A Head Full of Dreams Tour launched in March of 2016 at La Plata’s Estadio Ciudad de La Plata in Argentina. It is currently on a short break until it picks up on Aug. 1 at the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. The trek is slated to end on Nov. 15 at the same venue where it started: Estadio Ciudad de La Plata.

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billboard.com
Shake It Off: Despite Negative Press, Taylor Swift's Reputation Tour Could Be One of the Biggest of All Time

Taylor Swift is on track to chart one of the highest-grossing tours of all time, with projections that she could sell $450 million worth of tickets on her Reputation stadium tour which kicks off this summer.

Swift is using a strategy deployed by Jay-Z and bands like The Rolling Stones – price tickets high and have seats available on the primary market up until the day of show. That means few, if any, early sellouts but huge revenues, as tickets, especially premium seats, are marked up much higher than previous tours. While several recent stories have warned of poor ticket sales – including a New York Post article this morning – those close to Swift say the “Look What You Made Me Do” singer sold $180 million worth of tickets in the first seven days of sales – that’s four days of sales through the Verified Fan platform and three days of sales to the general public that began Dec. 13. Swift is planning to add eight more shows to the North American leg of her tour for a total of 41 shows, with double, and in some cases triple, visits to major cities.

In markets like Los Angeles, Swift has sold 110,000 tickets for her May 18 and 19 concerts at the Rose Bowl, an increase of 36 percent over her 2015 visit, where she performed six shows at Staples Center for 81,000 fans. Thousands of tickets for both Rose Bowl concerts are still available and promoter Louis Messina told Billboard in December he was confident every show on the tour would sell out over the next five months. (The Reputation Tour kicks off May 8 in Glendale, Arizona.)

Sources now tell Billboard each show on the tour is forecast to sell between $7.5 million and $10 million worth of tickets. Couple that with six shows in Europe and five shows in Australia and New Zealand, and Swift is looking at earning anywhere between $390 million and $510 million for the Reputation Tour, putting her on track to have one of the top-grossing tours of all time based on Billboard Boxscores. (A request for comment from representatives for Swift and promoter AEG was not returned as of press time.)

Swift is looking at a huge earnout despite not having sold out a single show on her tour, a stark contrast from her 1989 Tour in 2015 which sold out in seconds. Swift watched as tickets were rapidly bought up by scalpers and bots and then resold on secondary sites like StubHub at high markups, sometimes three, four or five times face value. Hoping to capture more of the revenue for her Reputation Tour, Swift sold her tickets at much higher prices than in previous years, fetching upwards of $500 for floor seats, $800 for pit passes and $1,500 for VIP tickets.

The idea is to charge what people end up eventually paying for the ticket on the secondary market, capturing the revenue for the artist and making it more difficult for scalpers to flip the tickets on the secondary. While the practice does shift spending toward the artist, several ticketing professionals say they are concerned about how Swift’s high ticket prices will affect consumers.

At Houston’s NRG Stadium, where Swift plays Sept. 29, the cheapest tickets are $160 apiece, with some seats listed high up in the rafters selling for $230, meaning a young fan would have to pay between $400-$500 for a pair of tickets to her show.

“Whenever I see an upper deck ticket priced above $200 for a football stadium tour I have a hard time imagining that fan will leave the show thinking they got their money’s worth,” says Patrick Ryan, co-founder of ticketing and distribution company Eventellect. "Regardless of whether they bought that ticket on the primary or secondary market, $200 is a lot to spend on a seat literally in the rafters.”

While Ryan says he believes it is "good that the artist is taking a harder look at the ticket prices and isn’t focused on getting an immediate sellout,” he said the consequences of high ticket prices could mean fans "go to fewer sporting events and other concerts during that same time frame.”

"Overall, it’s good and smart for Taylor to price her tickets higher,” he says, "but it could cannibalize other games or shows, because for most consumers, they don’t have an endless budget.”

There’s also a larger question about whether the days of instant tour sellouts are gone, replaced by a “slow ticketing” model where platforms like Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan allow only a few fans to purchase tickets at a time. After running a month-long promotion for Taylor Swift Tix where fans were encouraged to buy her albums and merchandise in order to “boost” their chances of getting a good ticket, Swift began selling a small number of tickets to fans on Dec. 5, only allowing three people at a time into the purchase queue to complete transactions.

As each day of the Verified Fan presale passed, more buyers were allowed into the sales queue – the idea was to weed out scalpers who often overwhelm an onsale with ticketing bots and automated programs that allow them to buy up tickets faster than fans. What Ticketmaster wants to avoid is having all the tickets sell out in seconds and then have fans turn to sites like StubHub for available tickets.

"We’d like to sell the last ticket to her concert when she takes the stage each night,” David Marcus, executive vp and head of music at Ticketmaster, told Billboard last month. “We’re not trying to sell all of her tickets in one minute; we’re trying to figure out how to sell tickets in a more modern way.”

billboard.com
Neil Diamond and J. Cole Caught in the Crossfire as Irving Azoff and AEG's Booking War Escalates

A-list artists choosing Staples over The Forum can forget about playing Madison Square Garden, as Azoff and Jay Marciano clash over exclusives.

On Nov. 23, 2016, 10 days after William Morris Endeavor worldwide head of music Marc Geiger confirmed that his client Neil Diamond would play two August 2017 dates at the AEG-owned Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, he emailed the arena’s vp of booking and events with bad news: He was moving the show to The Forum in nearby Inglewood, Calif., an arena owned by Azoff MSG Entertainment, after “getting squeezed” by one of its partners, longtime music power broker Irving Azoff.

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Panic! at the Disco Leads Latest Hot Tours Recap

Panic! at the Disco leads the pack on the latest slate of Hot Tours (see list below), based on $7.8 million in sold ticket revenue recently reported from its 2017 tour that kicked off in late February.

On the road in support of the studio album Death of a Bachelor, released early in 2016, the band launched the tour Feb. 24 with a sold-out concert at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. The seven-week run through 36 U.S. markets wrapped April 15 in south Florida.

First-quarter box office counts from the tour, reported by promoter Live Nation, show that 247,447 tickets were sold at arenas in 25 American cities from the beginning of the trek through the end of March, with revenue from those concerts landing at $11.7 million.

The tour continued into April, though, with 11 more performances before the finale. Adding gross estimates from those concerts yet to be reported, the overall box office take was about $17 million when the tour closed. About 350,000 fans saw the Death of a Bachelor Tour during its run.

Following on the Hot Tours tally are three touring artists with ticket sales from shows performed at London’s O2 Arena during their treks through Europe. Bruno Mars, Ed Sheeran and John Mayer each earn a slot on the weekly recap based on box office counts reported by the arena.

With the No. 2 ranking, Mars scored a $6.3 million box office total from four shows at the London venue during his 24K Magic World Tour’s 11-week jaunt through Europe. His concerts on April 18-19 and 21-22 drew a total of 71,135 fans. Also included in this tally is a later show in Switzerland on May 12. Mars performed for a sellout crowd of 13,888 at Hallenstadion in Zurich with sales topping $1.3 million.

Sheeran’s 2017 world tour launched in Italy on March 16 and hit 19 markets in Europe through May 3. The last date on the trek was his three-night stint at the O2 Arena on the first three days of May. He takes the No. 4 Hot Tours ranking based on $5 million in revenue from 55,708 sold seats during the run.

Mayer (No. 7) played the venue on May 11 and 12, the final two nights of his brief swing through six European cities during May. With 30,709 fans in attendance, sales from the two performances reached $1.7 million. The world tour in support of his April release The Search For Everything kicked off in Albany, N.Y., at the end of March and is set to run through early September.

 HOT TOURS - May 23, 2017 Ranked by Gross.  Compiled from Boxscores reported May 16-22  RankACT Total Gross Show Date Range Venue/City (Shows/Sellouts) Total Attendance (Capacity)  1PANIC! AT THE DISCO $7,862,407 March 4-31 DCU Center, Worcester, Mass. (1/0) Schottenstein Center, Columbus, Ohio (1/0) Wolstein Center, Cleveland (1/0) Palace of Auburn Hills (Mich.) (1/0) Allstate Arena, Rosemont, Ill. (1/0) Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, Minn. (1/0) Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines, Iowa (1/0) Baxter Arena, Omaha, Neb. (1/0) Pepsi Center, Denver (1/0) UCCU Center, Orem, Utah (1/0) Taco Bell Arena, Boise, Idaho (1/0) WaMu Theater, Seattle (1/0) Moda Center, Portland (1/0) Viejas Arena, San Diego (1/0) The Forum, Inglewood, Calif. (1/1) Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix (1/1) Allen (Texas) Event Center (1/0) 170,806 (180,937)  2BRUNO MARS $7,733,170 April 18-May 12 O2 Arena, London (4/4) Hallenstadion, Zurich (1/1) 85,023 (85,023)  3GAME OF THRONES LIVE CONCERT EXPERIENCE $7,288,971 March 6-31 TD Garden, Boston (1/0) Madison Square Garden, New York (1/0) Spectrum Center, Charlotte (1/0) BB&T Center, Sunrise, Fla. (1/0) Amalie Arena, Tampa (1/0) AT&T Center, San Antonio (1/0) Toyota Center, Houston (1/0) Pepsi Center, Denver (1/0) The Forum, Inglewood, Calif. (1/0) MGM Grand Garden, Las Vegas (1/0) Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix (1/0) SAP Center, San Jose (1/0) KeyArena, Seattle (1/0) 102,049 (156,074)  4ED SHEERAN $5,093,280 May 1-3 O2 Arena, London (3/3) 55,708 (55,708)  5BILLY JOEL $5,046,093 May 13 Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles 48,162 (48,162)  6THE WEEKND $4,744,274 April 29-May 13 The Forum, Inglewood, Calif. (2/2) Philips Arena, Atlanta (1/1) 47,434 (47,434)  7JOHN MAYER $3,566,897 March 31-May 12 Times Union Center, Albany, N.Y. (1/0) The Forum, Inglewood, Calif. (1/1) O2 Arena, London (2/2) 54,567 (56,989)  8RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS $3,111,853 May 14-18 Schottenstein Center, Columbus, Ohio (1/1) KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, Ky. (1/1) Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis (1/1) 34,624 (34,624)  9GREEN DAY $3,067,150 March 5-28 Toyota Center, Houston (1/0) Verizon Arena, North Little Rock, Ark. (1/0) DCU Center, Worcester, Mass. (1/0) Petersen Events Center, Pittsburgh (1/0) Joe Louis Arena, Detroit (1/0) State Farm Center, Champaign, Ill. (1/0) 58,792 (63,334)  10ELTON JOHN $2,939,841 March 5-23 Spokane (Wash.) Arena (1/1) Tingley Coliseum, Albuquerque (1/1) Don Haskins Center, El Paso, Texas (1/0) 33,444 (33,720)  

anonymous asked:

Anon, I can't tell you exactly how many tix ML sold tonight but it was quite a good turnout for her standard. BUT B's show at the same place which isn't till March has already sold so well that they've opened the entire additional 10 sections or so behind AND side stage with obstructed views. Also B's tix costs more than ML's. You'll see when the Boxscore $ is posted. The gross income will be very different, in Blake's favor. That's what probably pissed her off lmao.

Thanks for the info and I bet you’re right.

- B

In 2015, Zayn Malik abruptly quit One Direction, broke off a fairy-tale pop-star engagement and overdid the hair dye. Now, as he wraps up his long-simmering creative statement, the boy band outlier aims to prove that he has been his own man all along.

Zayn Malik is standing in a dimly lit studio, spliff hanging from his lips and whiskey tumbler in hand.

“My fans are giving me shit every day,” he says. “Like, ‘Where the f— is your music? You’ve been at it for months. Give us something.’ ” It’s around 9 p.m. the Monday after Thanksgiving, and the 22-year-old is indeed about to give up something, though not to his adoring public – they’ll have to wait for a solo album due early this spring on RCA. The four others here at Los Angeles’ Record Plant are part of Malik’s team, and even they seem surprised at how little the slinky, propulsive music he plays has to do with anything recorded byOne Direction, the band he abruptly left eight months ago, setting off a convulsion of online lament including accusations of treason and upsetting hashtags like #CuttingForZayn. In fact, the beat of shadowy, au courant R&B track “She” drives so hard that Malik, grooving intensely, sloshes liquor onto his arm. He quickly grabs a tissue and self-consciously dabs his wrist.

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2

The first four decades of Irving Azoff’s career were marked by fearsome advocacy on behalf of his clients that did much to set the parameters of the music industry. There’s no reason to think that the fifth will be any different.

Two years ago, Azoff abruptly resigned as ­chairman of Live Nation, followed in the fall of 2013 by the announcement of a joint venture, Azoff MSG Entertainment, with James Dolan, executive ­chairman of the Madison Square Garden Company and CEO of Cablevision.

In January, Azoff made headlines when the MSG-owned Forum in Inglewood, Calif., reopened after a $100 million renovation that saw Azoff’s wife, Shelli, playing a major role and his management clients, The Eagles, headlining the first six nights (at a total gross of nearly $9.9 million, according to Billboard Boxscore). He made news again in March when he helped broker the deal that brought Phil Jackson to the Dolan-owned Knicks as the basketball team’s president.

Throughout 2014, AMSGE made ­expansive moves. Azoff’s startup publishing rights ­organization, Global Music Rights, built a roster of 40 artists and 20,000 songs, then put YouTube on notice. Azoff took a strong position in the comedy world – a $300 million-a-year live business, according to Billboard estimates – first signing Chelsea Handler as a management client, then acquiring a 50 percent stake in Levity Entertainment Group, which owns comedy clubs nationwide and counts The Mentalist, Iron Chef America and Comedy Central specials among its TV division’s production interests. AMSGE also took a 50 percent stake in branding specialists Burns Entertainment, experiential ­marketers Pop2Life and social media marketing and online talent management agency Digital Brand Architects.

Music publishing, branding, venue management – virtually any way of making money in the music business, Azoff is now in it. And as always, he’s in it not just to win it, but to reshape it.

“In the 40 years that we have worked with Irving, we have been continually amazed at his business acumen – his foresight, timing, creativity, fearlessness, loyalty, wisdom and everything else the band expected … and demanded. The only frustration being when we were on a tight deadline to deliver a record, he didn’t help write one song.” – Don Henley

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BILLBOARD: Zayn Malik's Solo Plans, One Direction's Future Course: Inside the Band's Sony Contract

Three days into a four-person tour, two hours after playing to a stadium of 43,000 fans in Jakarta and just eight minutes past ­midnight, One Direction made an announcement that would send millions of teenagers into hysterics. Zayn Malik was leaving the band “to be a normal 22-year-old who is able to relax and have some private time out of the spotlight,” as the singer said in an official statement on March 25.

Malik’s departure didn’t come as a complete surprise (he had announced a brief hiatus from the band’s current tour on March 19 due to “stress”), nor is it unprecedented (the Spice Girls and Backstreet Boys both had members exit at the height of their popularity). But it’s a troubling sign that even 1D’s record-breaking four-year run may soon come to an end after its current stadium tour (it wraps in the United Kingdom on Oct. 31) and upcoming fifth album (expected in the fourth quarter through Syco/Columbia). It also brings into question Malik’s contractual status as one-fifth of the X Factor U.K.-born prefab group.

Richard Griffiths, One Direction’s manager at London-based Modest Management, confirms to Billboard that “nothing changes on the tour,” which will spend two months and 25 dates in North America starting July 9. That’s good news for promoters Live Nation and Creative Artists Agency, as 1D finished 2014 as the top touring act in the world with total gross ticket sales of more than $290 million and attendance of 3,439,560 from 69 shows reported to Billboard Boxscore. Reps for the band and labels Columbia and Syco declined further comment.

But while ticket sales remain sturdy, the group’s chart momentum has slowed since the release of Four last November. Although the set debuted at No. 1 on theBillboard 200 (making 1D the only group in the chart’s 59-year history to have its first four albums bow in the top slot), it has yet to generate a top 10 hit, with lead single “Steal My Girl” peaking at No. 13 and second single, “Night Changes,” petering out at 31 (a label rep says no further single releases are planned at this time). In total, the group has sold 6.5 million albums in the United States, according to Nielsen Music; 2012 debut Up All Night is its biggest at 2 million.

Still, that’s a covetable track record – and Billboard’s forthcoming 2014 Money Makers list, an annual compilation of the top earners in U.S. recorded music and touring, will report One Direction at No. 1 for the first time, with a total take of $42 million. That’s why Malik’s label management team has already positioned him for a future as a solo act: Malik is signed to Syco as a group member and individually. A “leaving member clause” in the band’s deal allows the act to continue as a foursome, and it also offers the label the option to pick up Malik’s contract as a solo artist.

By Malik’s own admission to U.K. newspaper The Sun, a solo career looks to be in the cards and the singer is currently working with British producer Naughty Boy in a London studio.

The remaining 1D four-piece still owes two more albums to Sony as part of a three-album renewal inked in 2013. Beyond that, “the theory is, because there are fewer members in the group, the label should pay less [of an advance for future work] because they’re likely to be less viable,” explains attorney Doug Davis, principal at The Davis Firm, whose clients include Lil Jon and Swizz Beatz. “But if Zayn is properly represented, he will negotiate a more substantial solo deal than the percentage he’s entitled to as part of a group.”

Malik had been withdrawn from the band for months, suffering from what one source calls “terrible anxiety” (for which he allegedly took medication) and dropping out of a key promotional appearance for Four on NBC’s Today in Orlando, Fla., in fall 2014. “There have been rumors of substance abuse,” hintedToday host Matt Lauer of Malik’s illness excuse. Indeed, another source contends, “Zayn wasn’t sick when he missed Orlando … he’s had one foot out the door since then.” Offers a third, well-placed insider: “He just didn’t want to do it anymore.”

But for every short-lived post-boy band solo project (Jordan Knight, Nick Carter,Joe Jonas), there’s plenty of success stories (Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake) to bode well for Malik’s next path. Johnny Wright, who currently manages Timberlake and has worked with Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, The Jonas Brothersand New Kids On The Block at various stages in their respective careers, says, “My advice to him would be always leave an open door with the band, so that there’s a time in the future for him to develop and find himself but always leave that door open so that he can come back.”

Jayne Collins, the creator and first manager of prefab British group The Wanted, adds, “I don’t think Zayn is going to hide under a rock – I think he’ll do his own solo thing. I would imagine he just wants to be in control of his own destiny.”

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