Kelly Clarkson’s summer tour was canceled Thursday, and immediately, two sides of the story emerged: Clarkson said, “Touring is just too much right now”; the promoter said tickets weren’t selling.
“It is mind blowing when you stop to think about what Kelly Clarkson has achieved during her young career,” said LiveNation CEO Michael Rapino. “But ticket sales have not been what we anticipated, and we came to the realization that we had bit off more than we could chew. In the end, we are in the Kelly Clarkson business, and for that reason, we believe that this decision will only benefit her and her fans in the long run.”
Clarkson, who won the first season of “American Idol” in 2002 and has sold more than 10 million albums since, had been booked for 36 dates in North American arenas. The tour was to start July 11 to coincide with the release of her RCA album “My December,” which has been moved up four weeks to June 26. She will still perform July 7 at Giants Stadium as part of the Live Earth concerts.
The cancellation comes on the heels of Clarkson’s dismissal of her manager, Jeff Kwatinetz of the Firm, and a reportedly tepid response to her new single. While Clarkson has been saying her new album is a departure, there have been rumblings that execs at her label have been less than enthusiastic about its commercial potential. In an interview with Elle magazine, Clarkson said label chief Clive Davis offered her $10 million to remove five songs from the album and include songs with more hit potential.
On her Web site, Clarkson posted a note that read in part “I promise you that we’re going to get back out there as soon as is humanly possible to give you a show that will be even better.”
Clarkson will likely scale back the look of the show and the size of the venues she will be playing once she does tour.
Promoters were keen to have Clarkson on the road as the summer touring schedule at the arena level appears a bit lean. There are fewer than a dozen national tours booked for the 15,000-plus seaters, among them Keith Urban, the Police, Beyonce, Rascal Flatts, Justin Timberlake, Rush, John Mayer, Genesis, the “American Idol: Season 5” finalists and the double bill of Faith Hill and Tim McGraw.
The concert industry has been in desperate need of new superstars for more than a decade to replace arena and stadium bands such as the Grateful Dead, Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd. During that time, the gap between the acts that sell albums and the acts that sell concert tickets has been widening significantly — in any given summer, more than half the bands crossing the country playing amphitheaters are not signed to a major label.
Unlike the boy bands and teen singers who proved to be flashes in the pan just as she was receiving her “Idol” crown, a young star such as Clarkson, who is 25, was seen as the type of artist who would bring in young listeners — along with parents — and get them accustomed to experiencing music live. The other arena-level acts that are touring this year attract significantly older auds than the Clarkson crowd.
Clarkson has won two Grammy awards, and her previous album, “Breakaway,” has sold nearly 6 million copies. She toured arenas in 2006 and, as a first-timer, kept her prices low. She was booked on this tour to play the Honda Center in Anaheim, where a top ticket would have gone for $88. Ducats were often priced about double those of her first go-round.
Gregg Perloff, CEO of concert promoter Another Planet Entertainment, issued a statement: “The day when she will play in sold-out arenas is, no doubt, coming, but for now, her fans should look forward to seeing her in a more intimate concert environment.”