Is there enough demand for a North American a-ha tour to promote
Home » a-ha, Norwegian, Scandinavian

Is there enough demand for a North American a-ha tour to promote “Cast in Steel”?

6 August 2015 18 Comments
This blog belongs to Radio Creme Brulee – an internet music radio station that broadcasts globally.

a-ha-pressconferenceThis year is undoubtedly THE year for veteran artists returning to the limelight with new material. Madonna is back with one of her strongest albums (titled “Rebel Heart“) in recent years – and a tour that is destined to impress. Duran Duran is back with their best and catchiest single (titled “Pressure Off“)in 22 years. Simply Red not only announced a 30-year anniversary tour but also returned with a surprise album titled “Big Love“. But one of the biggest surprises of the year and the most unlikely reunion is that of Norwegian pop/rock trio a-ha. The band had officially called it quits in 2010/2011 after a tour aptly titled “Ending on a high note“. This tour took them across the globe for their final bow (or at least what appeared to be their final bow). While we believed that they would never reunite, we could not help but think they had a deep attachment to their catalog and to their live presence as a cohesive three-piece unit. They reunited for a one-off performance after the terrorist killings in Norway not long after they split. Last year, they announced a performance at the “Rock in Rio” festival in Brazil to mark 30 years since their rise to stardom. Despite solo projects, it seemed like their hearts were still deeply entrenched in a-ha. Their return to the limelight this year met with dizzying levels of happiness as well as cynicism given that they had already announced an official farewell just to reunite a few years later. a-ha debuted their new single “Under the makeup” a few weeks ago and has already announced tour dates for their “yet to be released” album titled “Cast in Steel” (scheduled for release in September 2015). The list can be found HERE.

Interestingly enough, the US and Canada are NOT on this list. While it is unfortunate that the legacy of a-ha in the North American mainstream has been tied exclusively to their debut hit single “Take On Me“, multiple North American tours over the last decade and a half have proved that a-ha is not only a viable touring act in the US and Canada but are also a profitable act. While no one expects a tour on the scale of something the band would do in Europe or South America, we truly believe that leaving out the US and Canada is equivalent to leaving money on the table and walking away from it.

We understand that while bands have fans across the globe, touring in every part of the globe might not necessarily be commercially viable. This is a business and the bottom line does matter but we do have to wonder if a-ha’s record label and management is using the data they need to decide whether or not it is worth having the band tour in the US and Canada. This post of ours is similar, in flavor to one that we did a few years ago about Manchester quintet (now a trio) Take That. The post was titled “Is there demand for a Take That concert tour in the US?”. Our basis for the analysis of a-ha’s tour viability in the US and Canada is also the same as that outlined in the article mentioned earlier.

The management companies and record labels for artists such as a-ha seem skeptical about there being demand for these artists outside UK, Europe, and parts of South America. This assertion is based primarily on the fact that these artists/bands have no exposure via terrestrial radio outside of Europe and South America. In the case of a-ha, the only song that gets regular exposure is “Take On Me“. But is terrestrial radio the final word in terms of determining the lack of viability of a concert tour for a globally successful artist? Maybe not.

In this world of big data, it appears that the music industry displays the most resistance to leveraging data in making marketing and promotion decisions around musicians. Record labels are to blame for this. They continue to resort to “old world” approaches such as “focus groups” to figure out the marketability of their artists. Decisions are made primarily on gut instinct and are very often divorced from reality.

When deciding whether or not an act such as a-ha is viable in North America from a concert tour perspective, the following questions need to be answered:

  • What is the market demand (in terms of potential ticket buyers) for an act such as a-ha in North America and what cities is this demand concentrated in (if indeed there is a concentration)?
  • If there is market demand, how many shows can be put on and in which cities?
  • Can the tickets be priced in such a way that the tour is profitable? Depleted levels of demand on a per-city basis can make this a tough one

For bands that do not have a significant commercial footprint in a specific country’s mainstream (i.e. not much terrestrial radio play), record sales is NOT a good indicator of domestic demand for an artist or band. So given that record sales are inadequate and radio airplay on terrestrial radio is practically non-existent, what is the answer?

The answer can be summarized in two words – “social data”. In the last few years, companies like The NextBigSound have proved that a music listener’s activity on a social network (especially as it relates to his or her favorite artists) is a stronger predictor of music consumption patterns than responses to old-world research approaches such as focus groups and surveys. It is absolutely mind-boggling that record companies do not dig into this pool of social data to make any of their decisions about their artists. Here is the best part of this data. It is literally available to ANY of us (or so we think!).

We used Facebook’s Audience Insights to project demand for a-ha’s “Cast In Steel” tour in North America. For this analysis, Facebook’s Audience Insights gives us the following data:

  • The number of ACTIVE a-ha fans (based on whether or not a facebook user explicitly “likes” a-ha) in each country.
  • For a given country, the “percentage split” of a-ha fans across the country’s major cities.

We made the following assumptions in our exercise of determining whether or not a-ha live gigs are profitable in North America:

a. Facebook gives us a lower estimate and a higher estimate of the active monthly fans of a-ha. The number of people in the US that would be willing to buy tickets for an a-ha concert is equal to HALF The number associated with the lower estimate of a-ha fans as reported by facebook . The number of people in Canada that would be willing to buy tickets for an a-ha concert is equal to 60% of the number associated with the lower estimate of a-ha fans as reported by Facebook.

b. The likelihood of a Facebook fan to buy a ticket is NOT lowered by the fact that the fan has already watched a-ha in concert in one of the earlier tours.

c. All the demand for a concert is LOCAL. No one will travel from one city to another to watch a-ha. For instance, a fan in Minneapolis will NOT travel to New York City to watch the concert. We made this assumption in an endeavor to be conservative with our ticket demand estimates.

d. The cost basis for a-ha to perform in North America is similar to that of their prior tours in North America – all of which enjoyed great live success.

e. a-ha needs to be able to sell a MINIMUM of 3000 tickets in a US city and a MINIMUM of 2000 tickets in a Canadian city for the concert(s) in that city to be profitable.

f. There is ZERO “opportunity cost” associated with a-ha spending a few weeks in North America for live concerts.

The infographic below is purely for a-ha’s Facebook fans in the US.

a-ha-USfanbase

The infographic above suggests that a-ha has a minimum of 250,000 active Facebook fans in the US. The potential number of ticket buyers is hence equal to 125,000 (half the minimum number of active a-ha fans on facebook). Assuming the “percentage splits” in the above infographic can be applied to the 125,000 number, the ticket demand (at a bare minimum) in each of the cities is as follows:
Los Angeles – 7500 (6% of 125,000)

New York (inclusive of Brooklyn) – 8750 (7% of 125,000)

Chicago – 6250 (5% of 125,000)

Houston – 3750 (3% of 125,000)

San Diego – 3750 (3% of 125,000)

Las Vegas – 3750 (3% of 125,000)

In each of the above scenarios, the ticket demand exceeds the minimum of 3000 tickets needed for the concerts to be profitable.
The infographic below is purely for a-ha’s Facebook fans in Canada.

a-ha-Canada-fanbase

The infographic above suggests that a-ha has a minimum of 25,000 active Facebook fans in the Canada. The potential number of ticket buyers is hence equal to 15,000 (60% the minimum number of active a-ha fans on facebook). Assuming the “percentage splits” in the above infographic can be applied to the 15,000 number, the ticket demand (at a bare minimum) in each of the cities is as follows:

Montreal – 3300 (22% of 15,000)

Toronto – 2400 (16% of 15,000)

For each of the above scenarios, the ticket demand exceeds the minimum of 2000 tickets needed for the concerts to be profitable.
Based on the data above, the table below provides a sample tour plan for a-ha in North America:

City Total Ticket Demand Venue Capacity Shows
Los Angeles 7500 Greek theatre 5900 1
New York 8750 Beacon Theatre 3000 2
Chicago 6250 House of Blues 1300 4
Houston 3750 Warehouse Live 1500 2
San Diego 3750 Humphreys Concerts By the Bay 1400 2
Las Vegas 3750 Pearl Theater @ Palms Casino 2500 1
Montreal 3300 Metropolis 2350 1
Toronto 2400 Massey Hall 2700 1

The table above suggests that for every city (with Toronto being the exception), demand outstrips venue capacity (including cities with multiple shows) and hence the probability of “sold out” concerts is incredibly high. We just hope a-ha’s management and record label consider this while ironing out details for the 2016 tour plan. Meanwhile, for those of you that live in North America, please sign the petition by clicking on the image below to bring a-ha to the US and Canada to tour. More importantly, SHARE the petition on your facebook walls and twitter feeds.

a-hausa

 
Once again, DO NOT forget to SHARE the petition! Feel free to comment on and share our article too.
 

george-michael-amazing-playbutton

Broadcasting Worldwide

We are an American internet radio station that broadcasts worldwide. The station features an eclectic mix of current pop and rock music from both sides of the Atlantic alongside hits, forgotten gems, and rarities from the last three decades. The music of a-ha (both old and new) is a regular staple on our radio station. The music (both old and new) of a-ha is a regular staple on our station – including songs from the “Cast In Steel” album. We also play plenty of newer music by bands that rose to prominence in the 80s. Noteworthy examples include Tears For Fears, Duran Duran, Camouflage, Spandau Ballet, George Michael, INXS, Depeche Mode, Johnny Hates Jazz, Simple Minds, and Culture Club.

Give us a spin when you get a chance.
We just might become your alternative of choice!



18 Responses to "Is there enough demand for a North American a-ha tour to promote “Cast in Steel”?"

  1. Frannie says:

    Interesting. Spandau Ballet did a small venue tour here, I would kind of put them on the same level as A-Ha in that they are seen as a one hit or two hit wonder by the general public, but they have their more hard core fans that really want them in the US.

    Spandau Ballet played the 9:30 club here which only holds around 1000 people, which is lower than the venues you mention on your list.

    I think AHa could definitely do a tour in the US, but the question is is it worth to them to do small small venues where they could play bigger venues in other countries?

  2. Frannie: Fair question. That is why we highlighted the assumption that there is ZERO opportunity cost for the band (i.e. they won’t have a conflicting opportunity to play a larger venue in some other country at that time). I used 3000 and 2000 in Canada respectively to make the economics more compelling for a-ha in North America.

  3. Ed Corder says:

    (This assertion is based primarily on the fact that these artists/bands have no exposure via terrestrial radio outside of Europe and South America) Really? WHERE DID YOU ALL GET THAT?
    Every classic hits- oldies station that I know of in America play’s Take on Me.
    Speaking of {terrestrial radio} http://www.keom.fm lets us know when it’s {terrestrial signal} is down for repairs. Thanks for listening.

  4. @Ed Corder: That was a mistake on our part. We have corrected it. Thank you so much for pointing that out. We really did mean to say that besides “Take on me”, there was no exposure for a-ha on terrestrial raido. Just out of curiosity, how did you discover our radio station and blog? We would love to know.

  5. Lurke says:

    Yes I think we need a-ha back in the US as part of the 2016 tour!!! I’m all for it!!!!!

  6. Mary B says:

    I have to point out that a-ha, when they do tour the US, always play LA, NYC, and Chicago. I would also like to point out that it has been determined that people are less likely go if they have to travel (just like the example in the article) from Minneapolis to NYC. But are more likely to attend if they’d never seen a-ha in concert. That being the case, and because a-ha has not played (as far as I know) anywhere at all in (or even near) Texas since 1986, then there is an even higher probability of fans actually going to see them in concert in Houston, TX (and other nearby states, who are less likely to travel so far as to places like NYC or LA). If a-ha do tour the US, they should try to do shows in places other than where they always do shows. Just saying, I hope a-ha give the rest of the people in US a chance.

  7. Alan says:

    You forgot to take into account that many fans are going to a concert with their spouses who are not necesarrily fans. So potential ticket sales could be even higher.

  8. @Lurke: The demand is clearly there and this is based on pessimistic estimates.

  9. @Mary B: Fair point. I think the hard part was quantifying the probability of travel based on publicly available data. The assumptions that would be required to factor that into the calculations would be quite arbitrary in the absence of real data – which I am sure companies like Ticketmaster and Livenation have – but do not make publicly available – and hence could not be availed of in this analysis. The idea here is that even in the worst case scenario, there is viability for a-ha to tour the US.

  10. @Alan: Thanks so much for the comment. As I had mentioned in one of my earlier comments, it is difficult to quantify the probability of spouses being ticket buyers with actual data around this ticket-buying demographic. I agree that it would be a fantastic modeling assumption to add to the mix. I just didn’t have my hands on this data – and hence could not factor this in. Just out of curiosity, how did you discover our radio station/blog?

  11. MViking says:

    Looking at the numbers, it seem to indicate that a-ha could fill the Radio City Hall in New York … Like they did in 1986 … Well they filled the Radio City Hall 2-3 times in 1986, so I guess that would be to much to hope for today, but one concert would be cool there. Would be cool with a larger venue …

  12. a-ha New Single”Cast In Steel”. The second great single release. se iTunes. a-ah.com. Their video with lyrics.from the new album, US tour. They still after 30 years this year are great.Deliver every time.
    a-ha New Single, «Cast In Steel” their second from the new album
    Today a-ha second single was sent in norwegian radio.now on iTunes.After video release last week of “under the makeup”.
    As you an many told. guess.
    They still after 30 years this year are great.Deliver every time.
    Totally different from first single “Makup”. Morten Harket voice are superb. Now they after 30 year going on USA, tour again. Give A-ha after all their high quality albums last 30 year their, worldwide place as one of the biggest Pop band ever.A happy , great song.Perhaps a billboard hit before their USA TOUR.You got a idea,workshop, news now.

  13. This are defintive a «the wake» fire for a-ha. Their are on ramp and they have energy and confidendense and a two good singles now.
    Nobody in music industry could not resist the new worldwide tour (start 10 october Brasilia) and their release of incedible release of the incredibe A-ha!

    a-ha are a extreme good choice for a wide mucical public. That like quality. Only listen to all their albums and singles trough the year. After break in touring, the end desember 2010 in Oslo, many people,fans that like good, quality sound with Morten Harkets remarkable voice. If you shall scale a-ha and their potensial you must sit and hear his voice, all the albums, high quality, always,deliver. They music and comeback are very welcome amount very many big band from eightiés. But are still great. Timeless. Keane and Coldplay has already sent press message that they love to hear their inspiration band a-ha again. There are plenty of place for them.

    Why will a-ha for third time went back to hard touring and release a album?

    They have it fun, no money needed, and they have from fans and other sources in music industry, that they have a high commercial value.
    Perhaps the only one beside Take That and U2 from 80ś. Like many groups like Rosette, Duran Duran, Take That m.m they make music for 2015 audience. They have a sound that are timeless. Keane and Coldplay knew that when they started up. Not one big single as you say. Patience. You should see the tour from 2009,2010 and hear their incredible sound,song quality.

    Now, they go out with a enormous pressure. But they have been in the game,show so long that the manage it. The two first singles from «Cast Of Steel» convince that. The mean serious to come back and go to billboard and give USA and ananda a great opportunity. The don´t play music like most of trend has been in music world last 10 years. Not the show in centrum. But the extreme quality. Wonderful, relaxing sound. fresh. Sometimes low and suddenly high. From dark to light. And Morten voice are like Bono one of the best in POP industry.

  14. Jeff says:

    We’ve been planning to travel from the U.S. to one of the European tour dates. We fully expected $1500+/flights. What we weren’t expecting was the lack of even halfway decent tickets in the various German venues. It’s like they’ve simply dismissed the North American market. Which seems really funny if you look at the number of 80s acts currently touring the U.S.

    So we’re going to hope they come here.

  15. @Jeff: Thank you so much for the comment. Have you considered attending one of the South American gigs? That is a potential idea. Just out of curiosity, how did you discover our radio station and blog? We would love to know.

  16. Darren says:

    Seeing how successful there farewell tours were here in the states, it is indeed baffling that they have not included any dates for North America. That said, there is still a 4 month gap between their 2015 gigs in South America (October 2015) and the next closest gigs next year in March, 2016. Plus at a press conference, they said they have more surprises in store for fans. Here’s keeping my fingers crossed. Watching them in 2010 live was a dream come true for this hardcore fan!!!!

  17. Lori says:

    I can’t believe they still haven’t added US dates!! I really thought they would. I was hoping US dates would be something they would add as they went and saw how well the tour would do. I’m amazed that they haven’t at least done LA and NYC for a few shows. I still have my fingers crossed though!!

  18. Marshall Shoquist says:

    I would travel a long way to see them

Leave a Reply