In the world of billionaire hip-hop royalty, it’s been a tough month for Jay-Z and Beyoncé. On the backs of the now-infamous elevator attack, the online rumor mills are swirling with speculation that he’s a cheater and that J&B—once a model couple–are destined for the divorce heap. Amidst the pile-on, no stone has been left unturned. The latest casualty in the page view onslaught is the upcoming On The Run Tour, which kicks off next week in Miami. With their marriage all but dismantled, online ‘news sources’ have now moved onto ripping down the tour. In the last week, sources as wide ranging as In Touch Weekly, Perez Hilton, International Business Times AU and Radar have all proclaimed that the tour is ‘Crumbling’, ‘Suffering’ ‘Plummeting’ and ‘Selling Slow as Molasses’. In their pursuit of page views, these outlets are being very careful to not let facts get in the way of a good story. The facts, however, tell a much different tale. With a week to go until the opening show in Miami’s SunLife Stadium, the tour is on pace to sell almost 1 million tickets, and gross close to $100 million. At that pace, it would be the second most successful tour of all time based on gross revenue per show.
While $100 million would not put On The Run at the head of the list of all-time grossing tours, it would place it in rarified air for gross revenue per show. With the tally for the upcoming One Direction Tour still to be calculated, the 10th all-time grossing tour belongs to Bruce Springsteen’s Wrecking Ball Tour, which grossed $314 million across 112 dates, or $2,803,571 per show. The number one all-time grossing tour was U2’s 360 tour, which grossed $736 million across 110 dates, or $6,694,000 per show. If On The Run cracks $100 million in gross sales, as Ticketmaster says it is on pace to do, they’d be the clear number two, with around $5,000,000 in gross sales per show. The below chart shows the gross per show of the top 10 all-time grossing tours, as well as On the Run.
Tour Tour Gross Tour Dates Gross/Show
U2 – 360 $736,421,584 110 $6,694,742
On The Run $100,000,000 20 $5,000,000
Rolling Stones – Bigger Bang $558,255,254 144 $3,876,773
Roger Waters – The Wall $458,673,798 219 $2,094,401
AC/DC – Black Ice $441,713,636 167 $2,644,992
Madonna – Sticky Sweet $407,713,266 85 $4,796,627
U2 – Vertigo $389,047,636 131 $2,969,829
Police – Reunion $358,825,665 156 $2,300,165
Rolling Stones- Voodoo Lounge $320,000,000 124 $2,580,645
Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball $314,000,000 112 $2,803,571
The epicenter for the misinformation about the tours ‘Crumbling’, ‘Suffering’ and ‘Plummeting’ is a site called Hollywood411. In addition to mischaracterizing the ticket picture, the site went so far as to speculate that the entire elevator episode may have been an elaborate ruse to put a jolt into anemic sales. While Hollywood411 seems to have a good handle on the world and celebrity gossip and cheap pageviews, the article shows a total lack of understanding of the ticket market. According to the site ‘there are over 11,000 tickets in motion on StubHub for the couple’s July 11th show at MetLife Stadium…Even on Ticketmaster.com’s own system, a quick check shows a very bald stadium, with lots of tickets for sale and official resale.’ What the site fails to understand is that a robust secondary market is actually the sign of a healthy tour, not a sick one. If 11,000 people are taking the time to sell their tickets, it means they think there’s an opportunity to make money. As for the ‘bald stadium’ comment, when it comes to ticket sales, bald is beautiful, as it means that there are no seats left.
Ticket prices are always a hot-button topic with fans who invest so much emotionally in their favorite team or artists. In the case of On The Run, prices are indisputably high, with ‘premium seats’ on the floor going for close to $500 in many cities. Of the twenty shows, there are only two with over 5,000 seats available on the primary market: The July 20th Show at The Mercedes Benz SuperDome and the second show at Metlife Stadium, on July 12th. The SuperDome show is on a Sunday, which may explain the high number of tickets available on the primary market. As for the MetLife show, it appears that one show is enough to satisfy demand in the greater New York Metro region. Perhaps that has to do with Jay-Z’s unofficial residency at Barclays Center, where he’s played over 10 shows in the last few years. Beyonce tickets have also been plentiful recently in the NYC area, with three shows at Barclays for last year’s Mrs. Carter Tour. If promoters could wind back the clock, MetLife might be the one show that they choose to leave off the schedule. There is, however, still a month to go and tickets on the primary market are competitive with those on the secondary market. While the show likely won’t be a sellout, it still has a chance make up some meaningful ground. Furthermore, buying in the ticket market tends to happen in two major waves; at the initial onsale and then in the 72 hours before an event. With over 95% of the tour already sold out on the primary market, there’s a fair chance the the tour’s sell-through number could bump up against 99% when it’s all said and done. That’s an astounding achievement for any tour, especially one playing in football and baseball stadiums.
In his hit 2003-single Encore, Jay-Z famously rhymed ‘I came, I saw I conquered, from record sales to sold out concerts,’ and with two exceptions, On The Run will be no different. Whatever you do, though, don’t call it a comeback, and definitely don’t feel sorry for the King and Queen of rap. They’ll be making out just fine from the tour. Depending on the state of their marriage, they’ll be adding millions to either their joint or individual bank accounts. If you buy into the Hollywood411 theory that the elevator video was all just a rouse to sell tickets, that’s just another accomplishment to add to the list.