| Sing along with me: Jones performs at the Palais des Congres in Paris on Saturday during the first leg of her European tour. (AFP)
Los Angeles, May 30 (Reuters): At a time when some artists are struggling to maintain, Norah Jones is growing by leaps and bounds. For her 2004 tour, Jones is jumping from theatres to amphitheatres and arenas.
Average capacities will range between 12,000 and 15,000 seats for the 55-date tour, which runs from August 12 to November 14.
Last year, capacities for her theatre tour averaged 4,400 seats.
In another change, Jones’ label, Blue Note Records, has enlisted the help of its sister EMI unit Capitol Nashville to pitch her to country radio. Creepin’ In, Jones’ duet with Dolly Parton on her latest release, Feels Like Home, will be shipped to stations starting the last week in May.
“We ended up giving more play to the video Sunrise than VH1,” Blue Note vice-president of marketing Zach Hochkeppel says about the first single from Feels Like Home.
“She’s going in a country direction. And the folks in Nashville would like to take a stab at it.”
Hochkeppel hopes the country promotion will achieve two things: help differentiate Jones from artists who appeal to the same demographic, such as Josh Groban; and introduce her to a new audience that could bolster the crowds for her bigger-building tour.
“We want to make sure the tour is as successful as possible. We want to expand her base,” Hochkeppel says.
“We haven’t had luck with the top 40s of the world with Norah. And maybe this will work.”
Jones has managed to hold down two album spots on the Billboard 200 for several weeks.
Feels Like Home, which has sold 2.9 million copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan, is number 20; Come Away With Me, which has moved 8.5 million, is number 54.
Sunrise has received the most attention from adult contemporary and adult top 40 radio formats. The single is number 28 and number 38, on the respective format charts.
Joe Brauner, Jones’ booking agent at Creative Artists Agency, thinks the time is right to bump her up to higher-profile venues. Included in the routing are the 28,000-seat Tweeter Centre in Tinley Park, Illinois, (September 14) and the 13,500-seat Key Arena in Seattle (September 28).
“We played it very conservatively, underplayed it in every market last year, where most dates sold out in 30 minutes,” he says. “We think we can connect with those fans who were shut out last year.”
But some things are staying the same on the 2004 trek.
Jones is keeping ticket prices at or near their 2003 levels. Lawn tickets will range between $19 and $25.
Reserved seats top out at $58, which is about an $8 uptick from last year.
Jones’ older fan base could likely afford a more expensive ticket, but tour promoters believe the strategy will win her fan loyalty.
“If you do comparisons with other shows in Portland — Josh, Sting — you’ve got some people who are way higher, in the $100 range,” says True West’s Mark Adler, who is promoting the September 29 show at the Rose Garden’s Theatre of the Clouds in Portland.
“This could easily have been a money grab,” he continues. “We sit there and say, ‘X artist has an adult audience so ticket price doesn’t matter’. But she didn’t do that, because it goes back to her seeking longevity.”