“I have the same goal I’ve had ever since I was a girl. I want to rule the world.”
In less than 24 hours all eyes will be on the opening of Madonna’s Rebel Heart tour which opens in Montreal at the Bell Centre.
The tour sports an ambitious 64 show global arena trek. But as has been widely reported, there is much more on the line here than the songstress’ talents; her ability to draw audiences is also under the microscope. That’s because Madonna’s 10 year partnership with Live Nation expires in 2017. That deal–a 360 deal–was a good one for Madonna as it guaranteed the performer an unprecedented $120 million.
Editor’s Note: The term “360” refers to a complete circle. Under such a deal Live Nation would share in the total pie of Madonna’s income which would include merchandising, recording and performing. The thought was that if Live Nation provided marketing, promotion and touring support, it would also share in essentially everything Madonna generated. Plenty of other sources broke down the deal however, some were critical of it as to Live Nation’s gamble for a variety of reasons.
Here’s the rub. Not long after Madonna’s deal was inked consuming patterns changed–drastically–and album sales literally became half of what they used to be (257 million units in 2014 compared to 501 million units in 2007). Without supporting album sales to drive the artist’s side of the equation, the 360 is compromised thus putting more emphasis on the performance aspect. Madonna has historically done well in the performance category with 2008’s Sticky & Sweet tour which accounted for $408 million as well as 2012’s MDNA tour which brought in $305 million.
Obviously, Live Nation believes–and is hoping– that Rebel Heart can do the same. As further support, Madonna has offered her 13th studio album (Rebel Heart) to online ticket buyers via a 25 song digital version. Time will tell what happens here as Rebel Heart (released in March of 2015) marked Madonna’s slowest sales start in two decades. Ticket sales for the tour also appear to be somewhat down although that could always change. Are these sure signs of how this tour will end up? Again, time will tell and Madonna is one artist who has historically risen to the occasion so don’t count her out.
However, today’s business is different. It’s about reinventing how to make money in a changing consumer market. Nevertheless, we have confidence in the Material Girl. After all, she once said:
“No matter who you are, no matter what you did, no matter where you’ve come from, you can always change, become a better version of yourself.”
If the Queen of Pop follows that mantra she just might save Live Nation here. Do your stuff Madonna.