Adele's return to music after four years on the sidelines (save for "Skyfall") has been record-breakingly triumphant so far. The 1.11 million first-week purchases of lead single "Hello" broke digital sales records and her third LP 25, out Nov. 20 via XL/Columbia, is expected to sell well over a million copies in its first week and could even pass two.
But despite her mighty chart and sales record -- 2011's 21 has sold 11 million units in the U.S. and stuck around in the top 10 of the Billboard 200 for 80 weeks -- the singer's touring history is less established. The 2011 Adele Live tour was plagued by cancellations and postponements as the singer battled laryngitis, then a chest infection, then a vocal cord hemorrhage that required surgery and forced her to cancel her 16 remaining U.S. and U.K. performances.
Finally fully healed, sources tell Billboard Adele is plotting a tour to support 25 using a strategy that's rare for an artist of her stature: her team is working on deals on a market-to-market basis rather than cutting a single tour deal with a promoter like Live Nation or AEG Live.
It's a more complex and time-consuming approach that is common for club circuits but has fallen largely out of practice on the arena level. But it can lead to competitive bidding in each market and better terms on hall rental and merchandise percentages. Plus, it can provide individualized attention in each market, as promoters focus on working their own shows independently rather than a tour as a whole.
For all its potential benefits, the tactic also puts much more work on the plate of Adele's booking agent, William Morris Endeavor's Kirk Sommer, who now has potentially dozens of deals to negotiate. Though less common for a superstar artist, the practice is not unheard of, and is the model for agents like Dennis Arfa, CEO of AGI, and his flagship client Billy Joel.