June 7, 2006

Dixie Chicks tour struggling in several markets

By Ray Waddell

NASHVILLE (Billboard) - Initial ticket sales for the Dixie
Chicks' upcoming tour are far below expectations and several
dates will likely be canceled or postoned.

Ticket counts for the 20-plus arena shows that went on sale
last weekend were averaging 5,000-6,000 per show in major
markets and less in secondaries, according to sources contacted
by Billboard. Venue capacities on the tour generally top

In contrast, the band's new album, "Taking the Long Way,"
sold 526,000 units in its first week, according to Nielsen
Soundscan, the third-largest sales week of 2006. The album
logged a second week in the period ended June 4, according to
sales data issued Wednesday.

Despite those numbers, early ticket sales are clearly not
meeting projections. The plug was pulled on public on-sales for
shows in Indianapolis (August 23), Oklahoma City (September
26), Memphis (September 27) and Houston (September 30) because
of tepid pre-sales in a national promotion with Target stores.

The Memphis show has been pulled off the route and the
status of the shows in Indianapolis, Houston and Oklahoma City
remains uncertain. Industry speculation has it that much or all
of the tour may be postponed. At the very least, it is likely
routing and capacity will be reconfigured.

Early ticket sales for this tour are in marked contrast to
the Chicks' last proper outing in 2003 when a national on-sale
moved some 867,000 tickets the first weekend, and second shows
were added in several markets. The Chicks ended up with the
top-grossing country tour of 2003 at $62 million.

But not all shows on this tour are below projections.
"We're happy (with our on-sale) and comparatively seem to be
ahead of most," says John Page, Global Spectrum COO/GM at
Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, where the trio is booked for
July 25. A second date was added for the Air Canada Center in
Toronto, where the first show sold out in eight minutes.
"Canada loves the Chicks," says ACC booking director Patti-Ann

After two shows in London, the North American tour was set
to begin July 21 in Detroit. But with ticket sales below
expectations, it is possible the route and capacities may be
further reconfigured. The Chicks are managed by Simon Renshaw
and booked by Rob Light at Creative Artists Agency, both of
whom declined to comment.