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Behind Maluma’s Ambitious ‘Papi Juancho’ Tour: ‘We Gave the Industry a Needed Infusion’

Maluma's newly announced 30-date U.S. and Puerto Rico arena tour, on sale this Friday, is the biggest and most ambitious 2021 U.S. tour announced post-pandemic in the United States, for any

Maluma‘s newly announced 30-date U.S. and Puerto Rico arena tour, on sale this Friday, is the biggest and most ambitious 2021 U.S. tour announced post-pandemic in the United States, for any genre.

Set to kick off Sept. 1 in Sacramento’s Golden 1 Center and closing at Chicago’s Allstate Arena, the tour is big by any standard and signals confidence not just in Maluma but also in the live market overall.

“This is going to be Maluma’s biggest U.S. tour to date,” says his manager Walter Kolm of WK Entertainment. “Once doctor Anthony Fauci announced most of the population would be vaccinated by July, we wanted to give back to Maluma’s fans the full experience of his live show and bring back some joy. We are going out with a full production and all COVID protocols in place.”


“Maluma is good news,” adds Henry Cárdenas, CEO of Cárdenas Marketing Network (CMN), which is producing the tour. “We gave the industry a needed infusion. It’s good for the market, and we’re ready to go.”

Being “ready to go” in the age of COVID-19 implies many things.  On the one hand, Cárdenas needed to get the green light from each of the 23 venues, which are responsible for implementing COVID-19 protocols, in order to route and announce their tour stops. These include Madison Square Garden in New York City and the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami.

“They agreed that between now and September, things will have returned to normal,” he says.

But if things don’t “return to normal,” Cárdenas has a contingency plan that’s still built on the assumption that concerts will take place. Specifically, the Maluma tour is being booked in an in-the-round or 360 format, which allows for more seating. In Miami, for example, a 360 stage can accommodate 18,000 seats, which Maluma can handily sell out in that market.


If things are not back to “normal” and capacity needs to be reduced to accommodate social distancing, Cárdenas says “we can cut ticket sales by half, do two nights instead of one, and still make a profit. Whether we sell at 100% capacity or 50% capacity, the numbers will work.”

“It’s very ambitious,” says Steve Kirsner with the SAP Center in San Jose, California which is hosting the fourth date of the Papi Juancho tour. But, based on Santa Clara’s own COVID-19 regulatory framework, “We still don’t know if we will be able to do the show,” he says.

Kirsner said Cardenas was aware of the risk and added that he would be watching the state’s own vaccine efforts as the Sept. 9 date approaches. “If we can achieve a 70% vaccination rate by then, we’re optimistic we could move forward with the show,” Kirsner added, noting that the show’s 360-degree configuration “gives us options for social distancing” if needed.

Another entertainment executive working at a building booked for one of the dates of the tour, but not authorized to speak to the media, told Billboard, “We’ll find a way to make it work. We expect the tour to do really well, so if it’s sold out and there is a concern about COVID, we could also reschedule.”


The caveat, of course, is that this plan works with only select acts, like Maluma, who can sell out arenas and whose pricing is not exorbitant.

The last time Maluma toured the U.S., as part of his “11:11” trek in 2019 and early 2020, he played 36 shows and grossed $23 million, according to Boxscore, with an average ticket price of $90.39. This time around, prices will range from approximately $40 to $250, says Cárdenas, and he expects full houses, buoyed by a string of hit singles including “Hawai,” which last summer hit No. 1 on Billboard’s debut ex U.S. global chart. In addition, Maluma’s exposure from his upcoming film, Marry Me, alongside Jennifer Lopez (slated for 2022) will only heighten interest in his show.

While Maluma is the first major tour to be announced for 2021, it hasn’t been for lack of trying. Last year, Cárdenas was planning to announce on-sale dates for May with Ana Gabriel and Alejandro Sanz and had to postpone them because “the venues were not ready.” Plans were further complicated by the presidential elections, and later, by the events that took place in the Capitol. And of course, there’s the continued uncertainty of COVID-19.

“But now, it’s done,” says Cárdenas. “We can’t keep on postponing tours. In this case, management, Walter Kolm, the artist and CMN got together to do a tour with affordable prices. I hope more artists come to the table and work with us.”