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NEAR TRUTHS:
ARTIST IN RESIDENCE


ARTIST IN RESIDENCE:
Since the news broke late last week, everybody’s been talking about the new U2/Azoff team, causing wonderers to wonder what happened between the band and Guy Oseary, who’d been managing them for the last nine years. Live Nation has been a constant and dominant factor in U2’s career since 2008, when the band signed a long-term deal with the company, and most believe the combination of the Azoff team, Michael Rapino and Arthur Fogel will lead to something extraordinary. But right now, the priority is Bono and his upcoming memoir, Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story, which is said to be terrific by people who’ve read the galleys. Is a residency part of the new touring plan? Insiders say it’s not out of the question.

Rihanna, Taylor Swift and Beyoncé are among the superstars due to mount stadium tours in 2023, along with Ed Sheeran, Dead & Company (allegedly their “farewell”), Luke Combs and—after a very successful arena run—BLACKPINK, to name a few. For some of these, a cutting-edge touring hybrid is likely in the works, about which more in a moment.

RiRi is said to be back in the recording studio shortly after the biggest look in showbiz was added to her calendar thanks to the NFL/Roc Nation synergy (this will mark RN’s fourth halftime; the third was, of course, the Dr. Dre-led hip-hop spectacular). Conjecture abounds over how the Super Bowl platform will be used to relaunch her music career and what impact it will have on her brand—notably her Fenty Beauty apparel/cosmetics empire, said to be valued at north of $2.8 billion, of which half belongs to her. Rihanna’s deal with LVMH was struck in 2016, the same year her last album, ANTI, came out. Fenty Beauty was launched in 2017 with a Puma collaboration showcased during New York Fashion Week. RiRi’s membership-based Savage x Fenty lingerie brand, “made for every body” (and unveiled in 2018), has been wildly successful, quickly rendering sector giant Victoria’s Secret more or less obsolete. A Fenty Beauty IPO may be in the offing.

For the last few years, the superstar has been sitting on an album’s worth of not-quite-finished material, but the conventional wisdom has been that there’s little upside to releasing new music. If it’s not as successful or well received as her prior hits, after all, that could tarnish her incredibly valuable brand. It appears that strategy is now changing. For RiRi to maintain her relevance and help her brand grow further, she’s making a move on the world’s biggest stage. With word currently spreading like wildfire that she'll have two songs on the blockbuster Black Panther: Wakanda Forever ST, which will hit on 11/11, RiRi is poised for a huge new chapter.

In any event, the Super Bowl is generally agreed to be too big an opportunity not to follow up with a major tour. Look for the Harry Styles-style “traveling residency” to be part of the plan: Set up camp at the presidential suite of the Peninsula Hotel in NYC, do your 10-15 arena shows along with a possible stadium date, lather, rinse and repeat in other major markets.

The MSG Sphere in Las Vegas, being built in partnership by Jim Dolan’s Madison Square Garden and Las Vegas Sands, is nearing completion and is expected to be fully operational by early next year. The 18k-capacity venue is said to boast incredible production values and other state-of-the-art assets that will make it one of the most compelling arenas in the country—and an alluring potential Sin City residency site.

In L.A., RiRi can do these shows and sleep in her own bed. Artists and their reps love this arrangement for its much lower overhead—far fewer load-ins and teardowns, drastically reduced travel costs, etc.—and infinitely greater simplicity. What’s more, it’s been clearly demonstrated that fans from all over will gladly add the cost of a plane ticket to the show ticket as these soon-to-be-legendary events prompt pilgrimages by the faithful, who spend top dollar for the limited number of available seats.

While Taylor didn’t pull off her Super Bowl bid, she was once again able to insert herself into the conversation just prior to the official announcement—once again reminding the world who the true queen of social media and brand management is. Word has it her new stadium tour will be announced in November in tandem with her hotly anticipated album drop. You can bet your bottom dollar she’ll find a way to use that tour to sell enough albums to score the year’s biggest first week—and possibly set a new bar for the post-bundling era, a record currently held by Adele with 839k.

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