Black Eyed Peas' E.N.D. tour has staying power

Fri Jul 23, 2010 11:50pm EDT
 
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By Mariel Concepcion

NEW YORK (Billboard) - Sitting in an Athens hotel room on a humid summer day in early July, Will.i.am recalls the days when he and his fellow members of the Black Eyed Peas made a collective $150 per show -- and were ecstatic about it.

"We would jump up and down because we got paid, even though it meant we had to split it with each other and the band, meaning about $20 a piece," he says. "Then we got paid $2,000 for a show. And then I remember the first time we got paid a million bucks for an hour. I was like, 'Wow!' That was only four years ago."

Today, Will.i.am, Fergie, Apl.de.ap and Taboo have much more to be excited about. In a tough touring climate, the Peas continue doing sellout business. While other marquee acts are canceling shows and suffering from poor ticket sales this summer, the Black Eyed Peas are in the midst of their most ambitious concert outing yet, the E.N.D. world tour, promoting the album of the same name.

Through the end of June, the E.N.D. tour has grossed $47.7 million and drawn 740,000 fans to 54 shows, including 53 sellouts, according to Billboard Boxscore. North American summer shows will further boost those numbers, assuring that the E.N.D. run will rank as one of the most successful tours of this year.

CONTAGIOUS 'FEELING'

The "E.N.D." album, released in June 2009 on Interscope Records, has sold 2.6 million copies domestically, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and 4 million outside the United States, according to Tom Land, international marketing director at Universal Music Group International. It has yielded a run of Billboard Hot 100 hits including "Boom Boom Pow" and "I Gotta Feeling," which commanded the top of the Hot 100 for half of the 2009 chart year.

Although the Peas have a wealth of hit singles internationally, "I Gotta Feeling" emerged as their signature tune for this campaign, according to Land. The track broke a U.K. record last month by becoming the first download to sell 1 million copies, according to the Official Charts Co. It peaked at No. 1 in Austria, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. It also went top five in Germany, the Netherlands and Japan.

The song also became an unofficial anthem for the Portuguese soccer team after coach Carlos Queiroz revealed on national TV that the players listened to the track as motivation before the 2009 qualifying matches for the World Cup. The group's May 30 concert at the Estadio Nacional in Lisbon was effectively a sendoff for the Portuguese team before it headed to South Africa. The Peas also performed at FIFA's World Cup Kick-Off Concert June 10 at Orlando Stadium in Johannesburg.   Continued...