Attractively Priced Bruno Mars/Janelle MonÃÂÃÂ¡e Twin Bill Scores With Ticket Buyers
The Bruno Mars/Janelle Monáe Hooligans in Wondaland outing is a tour for its times: two hot acts smartly packaged with a conservative ticket price in the right rooms. Ticket sales indicate that this is a blueprint for success in 2011.
Synergies abound. Both acts are booked by Paradigm Artists' New York office, with Matt Galle as responsible agent for Mars and Marty Diamond repping Monáe. Both artists are signed to Atlantic. And Mars and Monáe have obvious onstage chemistry, as evidenced by their performance at this year's Grammy Awards. The anticipated power of that performance was smartly maximized, as the North American tour was announced the week before the live Feb. 13 telecast and went on sale the week after.
Monáe and Mars first met when the latter opened a couple of West Coast dates for Monáe last year and the pair developed a friendship. "Bruno thought she would be great to tour with. He's a big fan, and the label obviously thought it was a great idea because both artists are on the label," Galle says. "And Janelle's management [Wondaland Arts Society] and her team all thought it was a great idea."
In terms of recorded-music sales, Mars is the bigger star. He's topped the Billboard Hot 100 twice with "Just the Way You Are" and "Grenade." And his 2010 debut album, "Doo-Wops & Hooligans," sold 821,000 units in the United States through the week ended March 13, while Monáe's critically acclaimed 2010 debut, "The ArchAndroid," sold 146,000, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
But Monáe earns co-billing because "she's done a lot of touring, and Bruno had not done a lot of touring," Galle says. "We needed to give her respectful billing."
The Grammy appearance definitely generated some heat around the on-sales, he adds.
"Our sales are great. I couldn't be happier," Galle says. "We were aggressive in some places and it paid off. In Vancouver, for example, we had trouble finding the right room, and we decided we would go into a scaled Rogers Arena. We had it scaled at 6,500 and now we've opened it to full capacity [more than 10,000]. We're 70% sold and we're still three months away."
Elsewhere across the route the venues range from theaters and ballrooms to arenas. In New York, the tour plays the Roseland Ballroom because Madison Square Garden, the Theatre at MSG and Radio City Music Hall were unavailable for the May 4 date.
Still, Mars at least will play to a lot of people in the greater New York market, as he's tapped for the Bamboozle Festival at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., on May 1, a day the fest will likely host 50,000. "There's a radius [clause], but Live Nation worked with us on that," Galle says.
The tour works with different promoters across the country. "We used whoever we thought would do the best job in a particular market or who had the best offer in," Galle says. The tour will play two nights at the Gibson Theatre in Los Angeles after selling out the first one on the day of on-sale.
They'll play the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden, N.J.-just across the Delaware River from Philadelphia-to about 7,000, and Boston University's Aggannis Arena is sold out at 6,500. Galle says the tour is looking at bumping up to larger venues in several markets. Ticket prices are conservative, priced in the $25-$49.50 range.
Mars came up with the old-school poster promoting the shows (at left), which harks back to old R&B concert posters of yore.
"Bruno and Janelle got on the phone [and] discussed the artwork and imaging," Galle says. "Everybody's thinking is that Bruno will expose Janelle to some of his fans-radio fans, as she hasn't had a lot of radio-and Janelle is a cool act and she makes the vibe great."
British hip-hop artist Plan B, also on Atlantic and also booked by Paradigm, will open half the shows before embarking on overseas commitments. Mayer Hawthorne steps in for the remainder of the 27 dates.
Galle says he has been "very strategic" with Mars' touring, basically taking baby steps.
"In November, he did like two-and-a-half weeks in the U.S., hitting markets with underplays-500- to 1,200-capacity rooms, mostly under 1,000," he says. "We kept it cheap, too, like a $15-$17 ticket. Now we've bumped up the rooms, and we're coming with a bill people want to see."
Production is coming together now and the show will begin rehearsals in New York a week before the first date at Roseland. "From what I'm hearing, it will be a show people will walk away from and be very excited," Galle says. "I don't want to give too much away, but Bruno and his team are planning on putting together a great show."