Despite very strong sales of their new album, the Dixie Chicks are struggling to sell concert tickets.
Initial ticket sales for the Dixie Chicks’ upcoming tour are far below expectations and several dates will likely be canceled or postoned. Ticket counts for the 20-plus arena shows that went on sale last weekend were averaging 5,000-6,000 per show in major markets and less in secondaries, according to sources contacted by Billboard. Venue capacities on the tour generally top 15,000.
In contrast, the band’s new album, “Taking the Long Way,” sold 526,000 units in its first week, according to Nielsen Soundscan, the third-largest sales week of 2006. The album logged a second week in the period ended June 4, according to sales data issued Wednesday. Despite those numbers, early ticket sales are clearly not meeting projections. The plug was pulled on public on-sales for shows in Indianapolis (August 23), Oklahoma City (September 26), Memphis (September 27) and Houston (September 30) because of tepid pre-sales in a national promotion with Target stores. The Memphis show has been pulled off the route and the status of the shows in Indianapolis, Houston and Oklahoma City remains uncertain. Industry speculation has it that much or all of the tour may be postponed. At the very least, it is likely routing and capacity will be reconfigured.
Early ticket sales for this tour are in marked contrast to the Chicks’ last proper outing in 2003 when a national on-sale moved some 867,000 tickets the first weekend, and second shows were added in several markets. The Chicks ended up with the top-grossing country tour of 2003 at $62 million.
But not all shows on this tour are below projections. “We’re happy (with our on-sale) and comparatively seem to be ahead of most,” says John Page, Global Spectrum COO/GM at Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, where the trio is booked for July 25. A second date was added for the Air Canada Center in Toronto, where the first show sold out in eight minutes. “Canada loves the Chicks,” says ACC booking director Patti-Ann Tarlton.
Needless to say, the primary fan base for country music is not Philadelphia or Toronto. (Canadian k.d. lang used to joke that when she told people she sang country music they’d ask, “Which country?”)
via Kevin Aylward
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