Anatomy Of A Streisand Tour

Update: Barbra Streisand confirmed one of the concert industry’s worst-kept secrets with her June 8th announcement that she intends to embark on a 20-concert tour of the U.S. in October and November. Cities and dates are expected to be announced shortly.

The outing will mark her first true tour since 1994. Streisand performed two millenium concerts in Las Vegas and two “farewell” concerts each in Los Angeles and New York City later in 2000.

Philanthropic concerns are apparently what motivated Streisand to come out of touring “retirement,” according to the diva’s announcement.

“The increasingly urgent need for private citizen support to combat dangerous climate change, along with education and health issues was the prime reason I decided to tour again. This will allow me to direct funds and awareness to causes that I care deeply about,” Streisand said.

Specific recipients of Streisand’s concert largesse have not been announced, but designated proceeds will be distributed through The Streisand Foundation, according to manager Martin Erlichman.

Rumors of a Streisand tour have run rampant since late last year and picked up steam when published reports suggested she and Neil Diamond were contemplating an outing. Other guesses touted Barry Gibb, with whom La Streisand recorded last year’s Guilty Pleasures, as an opening act.

Of course, no tour involving the notoriously stage-shy Streisand could come without a financing package to do a small nation proud. The tease playing out in the rumor mill apparently worked on at least one potential investor: a Florida attorney named Marcus W. Corwin.

The Boca Raton lawyer specializes in broadcast licensing and copyright, and at one time produced concerts in Baltimore. Under the corporate moniker of The Entertainment Group (not associated with the Entertainment Group Fund or Jack Utsick’s south Florida operations), Corwin set his sights on a piece of the Streisand action – and not for the first time.

“I was approached about a year ago by a group that initially came to me and said ‘Look, we’re interested in doing a Barbra Streisand tour. Could you help us put a letter of credit together?’ and they told me what they were trying to do,” Corwin told Pollstar. He never heard from them again.

When word of a possible Streisand tour began making the rounds in March, Corwin decided to make a bid himself.

“I decided to contact Barbra Streisand’s people,” he said. “I made an offer. When I heard she was going to go out and work I didn’t know if she had a promoter, so I made an unsolicited offer to do a tour of 30 cities and include broadcast and TV rights. I figured I could hire a good promoter or two to help me with the mechanics of a tour,” Corwin said.

After negotiating with Streisand’s camp for several weeks, Corwin said, “I was told they had chosen to go in a different direction. When that didn’t work out I continued to negotiate for a very brief while with putting together a TV deal and that did not work out. That was the end of it.”

So Corwin issued a press release May 31st announcing his offer had been turned down by Streisand. But what caught the attention of many was the inclusion in the release of details of a deal Corwin claimed had been made between Streisand and promoter Michael Cohl.

Corwin’s release asserted that Streisand had agreed to tour 10 cities this fall with the assistance of Cohl, who recently joined Live Nation‘s board of directors. The purported tour, according to Corwin, included “two appearances per evening, for a guarantee of $4 million per day which will result in an $80 million guarantee.” Corwin also listed New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, Miami, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., as “tentatively slated.”

Corwin would not reveal the names of his sources, but claimed that two of them were inside the Streisand camp.

Live Nation did not respond to requests for confirmation that it would promote the Streisand tour, but a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission related to Cohl’s new role seems to confirm that is the case.

In outlining financial and other obligations between Live Nation and Cohl’s company, CPI International, the SEC filing includes several references to a potential Streisand tour, including a letter of credit of $62 million, “issued or to be issued for the benefit of BSB Touring Inc. (the ‘Streisand Letter of Credit’).”

If Live Nation won’t confirm its role as Babs’ tour promoter, it certainly seems to have contingency plans, at any rate. The repayment of a letter of credit, plus any notions of making a profit by either the promoter or Streisand would also seem contingent on an astronomical ticket price.

Streisand’s last “farewell concerts” in 2000 commanded ticket prices of $125 for the nosebleeds on up to $2,500. Considering her “commitment to direct millions of dollars to charitable organizations” she supports, it’s likely the fall Streisand tour will smash the ceiling of high ticket prices she helped establish.

– Deborah Speer