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CLEAR CHANNEL NEWS: CCE Rethinks Concert Business Model (Click on More to view all articles)

(CelebrityAccess News Service) — With its concert division performing below par in recent years, Clear Channel Entertainment is rethinking its concert strategy, according to the Wall Street Journal. That new thought process includes paying lower artists guarantees; lowering tickets prices; and returning the local concert market business back to the very promoters it acquired, giving them more authority to pay artists what they feel their market will bear; and to even operate under their original company names.

Part and parcel of the revamped strategy is the acknowledgment by CCE CEO Brian Becker, who, in the Wall Street Journal, noted that "the environment has radically changed," than when its predecessor SFX acquired the bulk of independent concert promoters back in the late 1990's, and CCE is now readjusting its business model to reflect that.

Clear Channel Entertainment has been criticized of paying over-the-top guarantees to top name talent to assure a lock on the entire tour and promote it nationally, mostly at the venues they owned or operated. But with outrageous ticket prices, fans weren't buying and the company found it difficult to turn a profit, according to the WSJ.

One example is Peter Gabriel, whose last tour was hardly profitable. According to the Wall Street Journal, CCE paid Gabriel "as much as $600,000" per arena show. With a $91 ticket price, his shows were far from capacity.

This year, both Gabriel and CCE are singing a different tune. The paper reports his guarantee has been cut nearly in half, average ticket prices are about $43, and he is performing in CCE amphitheaters, allowing the company to collect ancillary income from parking, concessions and merchandise.

The Wall Street Journal did not report however, that Gabriel's last tour was an in-the-round, high-end production with hydraulic lifts, while this summer's tour is a regular, straight-ahead amphitheater production, thus much lower production costs for the artist. Interestingly, the paper also did not give any other examples of lesser guarantees.

In addition, the WSJ ran a potentially misleading chart of average 2002 concert ticket prices, comparing them to lower prices for 2003. For 2002, they used Paul McCartney ($129.92), Rolling Stones ($119.20) and Cher ($71.89). For 2003, they listed Elton John/Billy Joel ($109.26), Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band ($73.96) and Bon Jovi ($60.59).

McCartney and the Stones, who normally charge among the highest ticket prices in the industry, are not touring in the U.S. this year, and the Journal did not use Cher's 2003 ticket prices for comparison. For the 2003 acts cited, the paper didn't use 2002 comparisons either.

According to the WSJ, CCE was also confronting an image problem, one acknowledged by company president Mark Mays, who, in a raw, self-examining report, admitted the company was seen as a "behemoth," whose "corporate size is at odds with grass-roots values of artists and music." The report also warned of "aging artist talent and lack of staying power of new touring acts," leading to "dependence on a select, key number" of talent. This resulted in an over-inflated sense of the artists' worth and the demand for outrageous guarantees, which drove up ticket prices.

In addressing some of the company's past ills, Don Law, chairman and co-CEO of Clear Channel Entertainment, told the Journal, "There are tours we are not doing this year. If you look at the tours being done by the competition, and note which ones aren't hitting their numbers, you will have a good idea."

Clear Channel is also doing fewer national tours than in the past. Instead, they have been buying only the dates they want in the markets they choose, rather than the entire tour (just to have the whole tour) as in the past. A Clear Channel spokesperson advised CelebrityAccess that they have "most of the current Santana tour," for example. – By Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen

CCE Extends Cher's Farewell Tour–Again

(CelebrityAccess News Service) — Clear Channel Entertainment has extended Cher's sold out "Living Proof–The Farewell Tour" with final dates added in several markets. The show, which has been experienced by more than 1.6 million fans at more than 130 stops, will be the diva's final appearances on the live concert stage.

The extravaganza, dubbed by Cher herself as "The Cher-ist Show on Earth", includes songs spanning over four decades such as "All Or Nothing", "I Found Someone", "Half Breed", "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves", "Dark Lady" and a cover of U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" as well as music from her recent album "Living Proof". The show also includes a small army of dancers and several video clips highlighting the greatest moments of her music, film and TV career.

Cher's costume changes, which come with virtually every song, are complimented by some incredible choreographed dances and musical segues from her seven-piece band. Her almost carnivalesque two-tiered set comes complete with a mechanical elephant, acrobats on rings and ropes, and colorfully clad dancers.

Additional Cher "Living Proof–The Farewell Tour" dates:

July 9 Uncasville, CT Mohegan Sun

July 11 Atlantic City, NJ Boardwalk Hall

July 12 Worcester, MA Worcester Centrum Center

July 14 Portland, ME Cumberland County Civic Center

July 16 Hartford, CT Hartford Civic Center

July 18 Wilkes Barre, PA First Union Arena

July 19 Manchester, NH Verizon Wireless Arena

July 21 Dayton, OH Nutter Center

July 23 Albany, NY Mellon Arena

July 25 Rochester, NY Blue Cross Arena

July 26 Hershey, PA Giant Center

July 28 Rockford, IL Rockford Metro Center

July 30 Grand Rapids, MI Van Andel Arena

August 1 Columbus, OH Schottenstein

August 2 Indianapolis, IN Conseco Fieldhouse

August 4 Evansville, IN Roberts Stadium

August 6 Fort Wayne, IN Allen County War Memorial

August 7 Charleston, SC Charleston Civic Center

August 9 St. Louis, MO Savvis Center

August 11 Peoria , IL Peoria Civic Center

August 13 Des Moines, IO Veterans Memorial Auditorium

August 15 Minneapolis, MN Target Center

August 16 Milwaukee, WI Bradley Center

August 22 Seattle, WA White River Amphitheatre

August 23 Vancouver, BC GM Place

August 25 Calgary, AB Pengrowth Saddledome

August 27 Saskatoon, SK Saskatchewan Place

August 30 San Bernardino, CA Hyundai Pavilion at Glen Helen

August 31 Las Vegas, NV MGM Grand Garden Arena

More Cher dates are expected to be announced. – By Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen

Clear Channel to Promote Concerts at The Palace

(CelebrityAccess News Service) — In a multi-year deal, Clear Channel Entertainment has been tapped to exclusively book The Palace in Hollywood by new owners Steve Adelman and John Lyons, principals in Hollywood Entertainment Partners. HEP bought the legendary venue last September. In the greater Hollywood/Los Angeles area, Clear Channel exclusively books only the larger Wiltern Theatre.

Scheduled to open in mid-September, the 1,300-capacity concert venue's new name will be announced shortly. CCE's Eric Herz will book live music and comedy artists, while Adelman and Lyons will book DJ/dance music events.

The venue will undergo major upgrading, including installation of state-of-the-art light and sound systems and redesigns of the lobby, concert hall, restaurant, upstairs club, and balcony areas.

"We are creating a prime quality concert experience like nowhere else in Los Angeles not only for fans but for the artists," said Adelman, whose success has included New York City's Roxy, Palladium, Club USA and Tunnel.

"We're a good fit," added Lyons, who, independent of HEP, is co-owner of the Lyons Group, Boston's premier entertainment venue company, whose flagship mega-club is the renowned Avalon. "We bring them a first-rate facility in this segment of the LA market and they bring access to a wide range of talent." – By Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen