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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Madonna fans have turned out in record numbers for her world tour, concert promoter Live Nation Inc said on Thursday, seeking to knock down reports the Material Girl is losing her appeal.
The Los Angeles company said Madonna had sold more than one million tickets -- over 90 percent of those available -- for Madonna's 42-date global "Sticky & Sweet" tour, which kicks off in Cardiff, Wales on August 23.
Live Nation is trying to transform itself into a comprehensive music company, offering artists recording contracts and merchandising deals, as well as touring and access to its live venues. Madonna was one of the biggest names the company has signed for a reported $120 million contract.
The New York Post reported on Tuesday that Madonna was failing to sell out certain venues, including a November date at the Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles that sold just 27,000 of 43,000 seats.
Live Nation spokesman John Vlautin confirmed the Los Angeles numbers, but said the global tour's ticket sales are on target to gross more than $250 million, which would shatter Madonna's own previous record for a female artist of $195 million from "Confessions On A Dancefloor" tour two years ago.
It has been a difficult month for Live Nation, with speculation mounting on whether the company overpaid to sign artists such as Madonna and rapper Jay-Z to be part of its new '360-degree' business model.
Live Nation lost its chairman, Michael Cohl, last week after a fallout with Chief Executive Michael Rapino over this strategy. Cohl, who was head of Live Nation's artists division, had wanted to sign artists at a quicker pace, but Rapino wanted to sign around four to six marquee names a year. Cohl is now a consultant to the company.
There has also been concern the slowing U.S. economy would hurt nonessential items such as rock concert tickets, which can cost up to $200 each for major artists -- the larger share of Live Nation's revenue streams.
Live Nation's management has said it is has seen no impact from the slowing economy, Vlautin said.
Reporting by Yinka Adegoke; Editing by Andre Grenon