By postponing the Australian leg of their 14 On Fire Tour following the death of Mick Jagger's longtime girlfriend L'Wren Scott, the Rolling Stones and multiple parties involved in staging the tour potentially could be on the hook for as much as $10 million, industry sources tell Billboard. That includes everything from deposits on venues to the storage of gear to lost revenue, though it's possible that some or all of those costs will be covered by insurance policies.
Moving a tour the magnitude of a Stones outing is an epic, expensive affair, potentially involving millions of dollars in travel, transportation and other expenses. While some production work would have been done on the ground, the band had 60 trucks on hold to transport its equipment, and just chartering the gear could have cost as much as $250,000, say sources.
Typically, such productions are covered by insurance policies, and for 14 On Fire, the Stones and their promoters likely had multiple insurers, say industry sources. The exposure each party faces will depend on the type of insurance they carried. It is unclear what any of the specific policies include.
For a cancellation of this sort, insured parties must be able to show that the circumstances were beyond control, and that the act is unable to perform for that reason, says a music industry manager/producer experienced in megatours. Policies for major tours usually allow artists to name individuals whose severe illness, injury or death would justify cancellation. These lists generally include wives, children and sometimes parents and longtime companions, says a source. The cost of the premium rises in direct proportion to the number of people named. Given Jagger's 13-year relationship with Scott, who was found dead of a suicide on March 17 in her New York apartment, it would be difficult for an insurer to argue that the band must perform.
The Stones' representatives were unavailable for comment. On March 18, the singer posted a statement on his official website that read in part: "I am still struggling to understand how my lover and best friend could end her life in this tragic way."
Scott, 49, was a glamorous fashion designer with a high-wattage clientele including Madonna and Nicole Kidman, but her business is said to have been crumbling under $6 million in debt. She had recently been with Jagger on the set of the James Brown biopic he is producing.
In the case of a death like Scott's, the canceling artist typically is required to reschedule, provided those costs are less than the claim. The first show of the band's Australian leg had been slated for March 19 in Perth. That performance was quickly postponed, as were the remaining six appearances for the territory. Australian promoter Michael Gudinski, whose Frontier Touring is presenting the band locally with AEG Live, says talks are underway to bring the band back in October/November.
Regardless of the level of insurance on 14 On Fire, the Stones' visit to the territory is likely to be financially profitable. The band hadn't played Sydney and Melbourne since 2006, or Perth and Adelaide since 1995, and demand was high. The Stones had sold more than 150,000 tickets, according to Gudinski, with a gross that Billboard estimates to be about $40 million.
If history is a guide, it is unlikely the cancellations will dampen sales for the fall replacement dates. In 2006, after the Stones' Keith Richards fell out of a tree in Fiji and injured his head, the Stones postponed 15 European dates of their A Bigger Bang Tour while Richards recovered from brain surgery. That tour went on to gross $558 million, second only to U2's 360° Tour.
14 On Fire is largely a continuation of last year's 50 & Counting Tour, which grossed $126 million from 23 shows in North America, along with appearances at London's Hyde Park and the Glastonbury Festival.