Arthur Fogel, the reigning king of the megatour, has re-upped with Live Nation for a new five-year deal to continue his role as the Chairman of Global Music and the CEO of Global Touring. His tours with Live Nation have grossed more than $2.5 billion combined over the past seven years, according to Billboard Boxscore.
In a statement, Live Nation president/CEO Michael Rapino says, "We are delighted that Arthur has decided to continue his illustrious career at Live Nation. We look forward to continuing to expand our global touring activity under Arthur's leadership."
When it comes to setting up, launching, and executing global tours by elite artists, Fogel and his Toronto-based team, back by Live Nation's international network of promoters, producers, merchandisers and marketers, are unmatched. Fogel has steered five of the top 10 highest-grossing tours of all time, according to Billboard Boxscore, most recently the Madonna MDNA tour which, when all numbers are reported to Boxscore, will clock in at more than $300 million in gross ticket sales, 10th all time.
When Fogel's work with former Rolling Stones producer Michael Cohl is thrown into the mix, Fogel played a role in eight of the top 10 and more than half of the top 20 tours in history, according to Boxscore. Tops among them is the biggest tour ever, U2 360, which grossed more than $736 million, with attendance of 7.2 million, according to Boxscore. Other Fogel productions include Madonna Sticky & Sweet ($408 million), U2 Vertigo ($389 million), the Police Reunion tour ($362 million), Madonna Confessions ($206 million), and Lady GaGa's Monster Ball ($188 million).
Given its far-flung international footprint and deep resources, Live Nation has proven to be a perfect launch pad for Fogel and his team to steer the types of tours that are his specialty-worldwide blockbusters. "The company has continued to evolve over the last seven years into more and more of a force globally, in local markets and regions, so it's almost like you get the best of both worlds," Fogel tells Billboard.biz . "We get the Live Nation Global team, and then this ever-expanding global footprint of Live Nation, and in many ways they compliment each other. We can bring the Global Touring artists all these markets and know that there is an infrastructure in place that helps make the whole thing work."
Clearly, it still works. Fogel produced each of Madonna's last five tours, including the most recent MDNA recognized as the top tour of 2012 in Billboard. Global Touring is currently producing and promoting Lady Gaga's Born This Way Ball tour. Fogel's long-term clients, including Sting, Neil Young, Rush, and David Bowie, continue to have their tours promoted by Fogel. And most recently, Rihanna selected Fogel to promote her upcoming Diamonds tour, beginning in March of 2013. If there is a flagship client, it's U2, which, like Madonna, is in the midst of a long-term multi-rights deal with Live Nation that maximizes touring revenue streams like merchandising and sponsorships.
The "global" in Global touring is a critical element and has been since Fogel worked with Cohl on the massive Stones tours going back to Steel Wheels in 1989. Then, Cohl and Fogel not only had to arrange the critical financing necessary to launch such endeavors, they had to find partners in markets the world over that could coordinate production, marketing, and staging shows with local no-how. With Live Nation, that financing and those local market promoters are already in place, eliminating extremely complex prep and accounting, and streamlining the entire process. "There isn't really much of the world left where there isn't either a Live Nation office or a strategic alliance in place that helps facilitate the overall execution," Fogel says.
Fogel says he is "totally excited" about what the future holds with Live Nation and his specific skill set. "Our team is intact and firing on all cylinders," he says, adding that new acts are emerging that show they have the demand to be successful within this type of model.
"People tend to speculate on what happens when some of these iconic, legendary artists sort of drop out of the game, and what will replace them," Fogel observes. "I believe there is some real potential in terms of up-and-coming acts. Gaga is just one example, but there you go, two tours and they both end up in the top 20 of all time. This Rihanna tour is going to be a big tour, it's doing really great, and there are other acts that I'm not involved with that are doing some serious business, as well."
Asked to describe what types of artists work best in the Global Touring model, Fogel says, "Someone asked me once, 'what is it you do,' and I had to think about it. When I have to put it into words, it's almost like I take something that's big and make it the biggest it can be. I don't pretend to be Mr. Artist Development, that's a particular skill set, and I don't think I'm particularly good at that, necessarily. But I do believe that I am absolutely good at taking something big and making it the biggest it can be."
One could argue that Fogel has developed the careers for artists like Gaga, or even Madonna, who wasn't particularly known as an elite touring act before she began working with Fogel. Other artists have certainly grown their touring profiles under the watch of Fogel, who tends to think several tours down the road when plotting a trek. "There's that long term building part of it," he says, "but I'm always more comfortable when something is at least starting to develop on a global basis, and then being part of a team that takes it from that point onward."
Album sales, scarcity in the marketplace, demand, and current cultural relevance all play a role in deciding whether or not to go into a territory with an artist. "It's some combination of those tangible factors you measure, together with instinct, whether it has room to grow, be bigger than it is," he says. "So much of it is about being in the right place at the right time."
For Fogel, the right place is Live Nation and the time is now. "I couldn't be happier," he says. "I'm really excited about how far this company has come since 2005, and I'm even more excited about the future, on so many different levels. It's positioned exactly as it should be in today's world."