Saturday, August 9, 2014

Jay Z-Beyonce Divorce Rumors Impact On Tour Ticket Prices? Not Much, It Turns Out

Jay Z and Beyoncé have long had the sort of relationship that’s exceedingly rare in the entertainment world: one glorified by the tabloids rather than torn down by them. 

Magazines like People have historically been much more interested in gushing over the couple’s daughter than speculating on what’s going on in their relationship; less than a year ago, the Daily Mail wrote about the pair snapping selfies off the Italian coast and didn’t touch the topic of domestic strife. 

“It’s the closest thing to love that we have in America, this marriage,” said hip-hop historian Jeff Chang, in an interview for my Jay Z biography Empire State of Mind.

But in May, after the Met ball in New York, the narrative changed a bit: a video emerged of an elevator scuffle between Jay Z and Solange Knowles as Beyoncé looked on. Afterwards, music’s first couple found their relationship in the limelight in a way it had never been previously, with reports of imminent divorce spilling out nearly every day. 

Since then, even as the rumors jumped from the realm of gossip sites into more mainstream outlets like Billboard, some conspiracy theorists have suggested that the whole scenario was a publicity stunt from the beginning, aimed at generating more cash for Jay Z and Beyoncé’s On the Run tour, which has been crisscrossing the country this summer. 

So how has the attention affected secondary market ticket prices for them on the road? According to at least one source, not very much at all. Brett Goldberg, co-founder of TickPick, an upstart challenger to StubHub, says that for most events, ticket prices tend to peak shortly after the on-sale date. They then trend downward until roughly a month before the event, at which point they rise again as the day of reckoning approaches. 

“Ticket prices for Jay-Z and Beyonce’s On the Run Tour followed this trajectory, with no conceivable correlation between divorce rumors and ticket prices,” says Goldberg. “With one exception.” 

The only event that seemed to move the needle was when Jay Z and Beyoncé skipped the wedding of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian in June. According to Goldberg, “there was a notable bump of 25-50% in ticket prices during the time the couple was very famously vacationing in the Hamptons, and some thought, snubbing Kim and Kanye.” 

These numbers, to be sure, are all based on a fairly limited data set. It’s possible there were spikes in the broader secondary market that didn’t show up. Concert promoter Live Nation says Jay Z and Beyoncé filled stadiums to about 90% of capacity; one would assume that if the rumors whipped up demand to a frenzy, that number would have been a bit higher. 

Regardless, On the Run seems to have been a success: Jay Z and Beyoncé’s tour grossed over $100 million in ticket sales on 19 shows, a better nightly rate than the Rolling Stones achieved in the first half of 2013, grossing $87.7 million on 18 shows. 

The rumors surrounding Jay Z and Beyoncé’s relationship may not have actively helped achieve those results, but it certainly seems they didn't hurt, at least on the secondary market.


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