1706407147 International Tours Is Montreal still on the map

International Tours | Is Montreal still on the map? – The press

Is Montreal still an essential stop for stars on international tours? Yes and no. Despite the lure of festivals and competition with Toronto, the metropolis is doing quite well.

Published at 1:37 am. Updated at 7:00 a.m.


Has the aura of Montreal faded?

Certainly Beyoncé, Coldplay, Harry Styles, Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift skipped Montreal during their recent tour. On the other hand, pop music heavyweights are expected at the Bell Center this year, including Olivia Rodrigo, Nicki Minaj, Burna Boy and Noah Kahan. And in the coming months, more international artists will announce their major tours and, for some, a stop in the metropolis of Quebec.

International Tours Is Montreal still on the map


Burna Boy at the Osheaga Festival in 2022

“Montreal is really not in a bad location [sur l’échiquier]. “For the population and the market, it remains a place where the international offer of large-scale travel is completely within the standards,” explains Martin Lussier, professor at the Department of Social and Public Communication at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM).

However, recent years have given the impression that the city has not been chosen for some of the most prestigious tours.

The aura of Montreal is perhaps less important than it was when international artists wanted to come here because it was a place that gave credibility to their tour.

Martin Lussier, Professor in the Department of Social and Public Communication at UQAM

Other than that, “things haven't really changed” and it's wrong to say it's worse than before, says Nick Farkas, vice president of programming at event organizer evenko. “Since COVID-19, it has actually become much stronger. We've never had two dates with Depeche Mode or two dates with Burna Boy. We just saw it with Madonna and will see it with Olivia Rodrigo too. We have never seen so many doubles. »

Artist in “residence”

When things are going pretty well, there's no denying that Montreal has failed to capture the attention of some of today's most popular artists. The travel market is changing and Montreal no longer has the appeal it once had.

When analyzing this “new context”, the pandemic must be taken into account, emphasizes Martin Lussier. “Large producers are still managing their capital after this period,” he recalls.

“As far as the big popular artists in the mainstream go, [cela] The fact is that we will be looking for cities where there is a greater capacity to fill a room with fans who pay a high price, notes Danilo Dantas, HEC Montreal expert in professional and entrepreneurial strategies of independent musicians. We look for the most interesting markets and focus on them. This means less effort for more returns [sur l’investissement]. »

Multiple artists decide to host 5, 10, or even 15 dates in a row at the same location, leaving fans tasked with traveling to see them.

There is a slightly stronger trend in the style of what is being done [dans les résidences] in Las Vegas. Since COVID-19, some artists are trying to stay in one place longer, which may be easier for them.

Nick Farkas, vice president of programming at event organizer evenko

Taylor Swift and her Eras tour are the best example of this new trend: the American artist performed a total of 60 shows in 2023 but only visited 24 cities. Drake presented a total of 43 shows during the year, only stopping in 27 cities, including Montreal at the Bell Center twice.

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Drake at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn as part of his It's All a Blur Tour

“By hosting a series of shows in the same city, we save set-up and tear-down time and save transportation costs,” adds Danilo Dantas. We must also not forget that the artist is a person who also only has 24 hours in a day and needs rest. Family life can also play a role. They are not machines. »

Too close, Toronto?

The presence of Toronto, some 500 kilometers from Montreal, is a crucial factor in attracting artists to the Quebec metropolis. Beyoncé, the top-grossing touring artist of 2023, performed two concerts in Toronto but did not set foot in Montreal.

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Beyoncé at the Rogers Center in Toronto in July 2023

According to a study by Radical Storage, the Queen City is the city most visited by world tours, while Montreal ranks eighth. “Montréal is still in the top 20 North American cities when it comes to most visited places,” says Nick Farkas. It's rare that we're not on a big tour. But if it's a reduced tour, it's possible it's Toronto only, which is understandable since we in Montreal make up a third of Toronto's population. »

However, Nick Farkas gives the counter example to Metallica: The metal group, which is particularly popular in Quebec, decided to present two shows at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal instead of Toronto. But perhaps it is the exception that proves the rule.

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Metallica at the Olympic Stadium in 2023

We pay a little the price of proximity [de Montréal] with large centers. There is Toronto. There is also New York, which is not that far away. True fans don't hesitate to travel, and artists know it.

Danilo Dantas, HEC Montréal expert in professional and entrepreneurial strategies for independent musicians

“Once a person has paid $300 for their concert ticket, travel and accommodation costs in Toronto are also part of the cost calculation, and it may not seem like such a large expense that it is 'worth it' in itself,” adds he added.

Without a “real” stadium, there is no Taylor

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Taylor Swift at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles

Gigatours, like those of Taylor Swift or Beyoncé last year, require an equally gigantic infrastructure. The largest enclosed structure in the city remains the Bell Center with its 21,000 seats. Montreal may have its 56,000-seat Olympic Stadium, but the venue doesn't have the appeal of a Yankee Stadium (in New York) or a SoFi Stadium (in Los Angeles). The roof is not in good condition, the acoustics leave much to be desired… If the Olympic Park allows major events to be held outside (in particular, the Metro Metro and Fuego Fuego festivals are held there), it is well more difficult to get artists from it to convince them to install their shows in the stadium.

“Beyoncé or Taylor Swift, their production is huge and outside, at a festival, it wouldn’t work,” says Nick Farkas. It is certain that we would host more shows of this magnitude if we had a stadium that could do it [les accueillir]. »

So should we invest in the stadium? Nick Farkas remains cautious. “I can't answer that directly, but I know people are asking if, for example, the roof is being replaced. There are many questions. It is certain that it would encourage artists to play at the stadium. »

Montreal's Love Review

Many factors now influence the decision to play in Montreal or not. Some are completely random, such as the question of availability. When an artist lands in eastern North America but the venue they're looking for doesn't have an available date, “it's things we can't control,” says Nick Farkas.

Nevertheless, the metropolis is still known for the way its audience welcomes the artists at their shows, assures Nick Farkas. And the audience in Montreal is not only hospitable, but also loves shows: “We sell a lot of tickets,” says Nick Farkas.

And if Toronto has an advantage both in numbers and through the presence of the Rogers Center and the Scotiabank Arena – which can hold up to 55,000 and 19,800 spectators, respectively – Montreal offers something Toronto doesn't: its festivals.

Festivals put Montreal on the map. Because there are so many festivals with so many styles, we have the opportunity to bring in artists who wouldn't have stopped touring.

Nick Farkas, vice president of programming at event organizer evenko

Kendrick Lamar, for example, did not have Montreal on his tour schedule. “But he came to play at Osheaga [l’été dernier], emphasizes Nick Farkas. This way we can convince artists who didn't want to come to play in front of huge audiences at our festivals. »

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Kendrick Lamar performed a concert in Montreal last summer as part of the Osheaga Festival

Not to mention that artists from all genres of music can now find a festival that suits them in the metropolis: Lasso for country music, Fuego Fuego for Latin American music, Metro Metro for rap, ÎleSoniq for electronic music, not forgetting Osheaga, which alone covers a wide range of festivals.

“ [Les festivals] are an attraction factor that puts Montreal on the route of great artists, even if our period is limited due to the temperature, notes Danilo Dantas. But I think it remains a very important factor in this grand equation of grand tours. »