Jay-Z’s ‘4:44’ Tour Is a Disaster: $6 Seats, Half-Filled Stadiums…

$6 seat to Jay-Z's 4:44 date in Anaheim (posted by @Atiba_Collosal)

$6 seat to Jay-Z’s 4:44 date in Anaheim (posted by @Atiba_Collosal)

The cheap seats aren’t even selling.  And the arenas are half full.  Is it over?  Jay-Z is now facing lackluster demand and sagging ticket prices on his ‘4:44’ tour.

Update: Jay-Z has threatened legal action against Digital Music News over this article.  Here’s the latest on that.

Jay-Z is accustomed to multi-platinum albums and sold-out shows.  But this time around, fans didn’t even know where to find 4:44.  And they seem equally uninterested in seeing the rapper live.

As the 4:44 circus train leaves the station, fans are leaking some moribund details.  Tickets are largely going unsold, with bargain basement deals surfacing.

That includes a shockingly-low $6 seat in Anaheim (see above).

And maybe that’s the first of many.  On that same date, $11 tickets were plentiful.

Other dates are woefully undersold.

A quick look at Ticketmaster shows a massive number of unsold seats in markets like Denver, Dallas, and Los Angeles.

A Dallas show scheduled for November 7th offers a stunning look at the situation.  Just days ahead of the gig, most sections have plenty of tickets available.  That includes lower-priced, $34 nosebleeds, which are plentiful.

Updated (November 5th): Jay-Z has cancelled a scheduled performance in Fresno, as tickets drop below $10 in numerous cities.

But higher-priced tickets approaching $200 are also plentiful, suggesting that bigger spenders are saving for other gigs.  Or, looking to score a last-minute bargain.

blue = available (on November 7th). Any questions?

A December show in Los Angeles at the Forum is also struggling to attract fans.  Even Jay-Z’s hometown Brooklyn is hurting, with thousands of unsold seats at the Barclay Center.  Both dates are only several weeks away.

Jay-Z Tells Spotify Where to Stuff His New Album

The lackluster tour follows a questionable streaming strategy around 4:44.

Instead of a broad release, Jay-Z insisted on limiting 4:44 to TIDAL and Sprint subscribers.  He purposefully withheld the release from Spotify, a move that may have crushed awareness and interest.

Somehow, 4:44 grabbed a #1 spot on the Billboard charts on 262,000 ‘album equivalent’ units.  Before that, it quickly earned a platinum certification from the RIAA.  But that was based on ‘free’ album downloads to existing Sprint subscribers.  In other words, Sprint bought the albums, not actual fans.

Jay Z’s 4:44 Platinum Status: The Beginning of The End for TIDAL

All of which made for great headlines and a shiny platinum plaque.  But it won’t be enough to fill 4:44 shows.

More broadly, Jay Z’s war against Spotify may be proving disastrous.  TIDAL remains completely niche, despite massive backing from Sprint.

All of which seems to be making the 4:44 album and tour completely niche as well.  No matter what the headlines say.

 


 

21 Responses

    • What

      “Somehow, 4:44 grabbed a #1 spot on the Billboard charts. But that was based on ‘free’ album downloads to existing Sprint subscribers. In other words, Sprint bought the albums, not actual fans.

      This is not true, what sort of terrible journalism is this? The Sprint downloads were not counted towards the Billboard charts. It was number 1 for 2 weeks after physical copies were released and it was available on non-Spotify streaming services.

  1. Jim

    What Big, Big Mistake did you make in the headline, one that gives Jay-Z much more credit than he deserves?

    These are NOT STADIUMS that are Half Full, with cheap seats.

    These ARE ARENAS.

    Jay Z is certainly not a STADIUM level act, he can’t even do adequately in ARENAS in the biggest cities. Is Jay Z supposed to be huge?

  2. doesn'tmatter

    rap is stupid for the most part. fuck Shawn Carter he has no musical talent. no i’m not a racist.

  3. What

    “Somehow, 4:44 grabbed a #1 spot on the Billboard charts. But that was based on ‘free’ album downloads to existing Sprint subscribers. In other words, Sprint bought the albums, not actual fans.

    This is not true, what sort of terrible journalism is this? The Sprint downloads were not counted towards the Billboard charts. It was number 1 for 2 weeks after physical copies were released and it was available on non-Spotify streaming services.

    • Paul Resnikoff

      Thank you for correcting that! I was really jumbling the facts when I wrote that. To correct: the Sprint pre-purchases were counted by the RIAA (leading to an RIAA platinum certification), but NOT counted by Billboard (with the resulting #1 coming from activity outside the pre-purchased Sprint arrangement). I update above. Paul

  4. Truth

    Who writes this stuff? Hardly can be called reporting or journalism. With a small amount of research the writer would be able to acknowledge Jay Z rarely sells out a show when he’s touring as a solo act (very rarely). Just check some data on his Magna Carter Holy Grail Tour here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magna_Carter_World_Tour

    In fact few exclusively hip/hop acts sell out their shows regularly (even the popish beloved Drake). Rest assured when Billboard reports top grossing tours for the year Jay-Z will be right near the top of the list.

    I understand the writers who post here generally have an agenda that’s pro Spotify, but at least try to put forth a well researched a opinion. This is just a rip from the Upoxx write-up that also wasn’t very well researched. Keep it classy

  5. HonestOpinion

    Your website really surprised me. I usually like your articles.
    I normally will read an article here and say, okay.
    I’m not a Jay Z fan like that, but I know he’s still a big artist.
    So I have to question what’s the point of the writer’s perspective.
    Billboard Magazine’s website reports otherwise, saying this s Jay Z’s highest grossing tour ever.
    The $6 tickets you spoke of cuts out the scalpers and is even better for his “real” fans who can’t afford to pay $250+ for floor seats.
    So what’s the problem?!?

  6. mike ahuja

    the reality is huge concerts like that are not worth doing, the concept of ppl just watching an artist perform has long been gone — creating environments like what insomniac does is far more enjoyable for attendees .

  7. Blobbo

    Jay Z is ok, but rap is boring. Maybe it’s finally done. One can only hope. Either that, or people just don’t want to see rap live. Could be a segment people don’t care to pay to see live. What a drag it is getting old, also….

    • Reality

      Maybe Rap is finally done?

      Have you checked out the top streamed songs lately?

  8. Paul Resnikoff

    Everyone, I’m sorry but I’m really struggling with your responses here. I am routinely wrong about things, so maybe somebody can explain to me what I’m missing here.

    My question is: how is a $6 ticket part of a genius plan to increase overall concert receipts?

    Even more so: why is offering thousands upon thousands of $10 tickets (or $12 tickets, etc.) part of a genius moneymaking strategy? Cheaper tickets ENCOURAGE more scalping, not the other way around.

    Even worse: scalpers might be disinterested in this show because demand is in the toilet. Meaning, nobody is trying to buy these tickets in the primary OR secondary markets.

    This sounds like a way to dump off tickets at a LOSS, while praying you make up some of it on parking, concessions and merch. That sounds like a really tough bet given that the buyer is entering with a $6 ticket price, indicating smaller overall budget.

    I’ve looked at the closer seats at a lot of venues. There’s massive availability and they are not soaring into the hundreds. Actually, there’s massive availability in most venues, with some offering dozens of tickets in EVERY section. It reminds me of a losing team’s regular season game against a lackluster competitor on a Tuesday night.

    So look: I’m not trying to cut down Jay Z. But these numbers offered by Billboard seem extremely suspicious. So please: shed some light (that makes sense).

    Thank you!

    • Lob Befsetz

      “JAY-Z Struggling To Sell Seats On ‘4:44’ Tour”: http://bit.ly/2zrf83N

      This is all over social media. Because hip-hop is a culture of informed fans. This is akin to the early days of file-trading, when albums leaked, were determined to be substandard and tanked upon release, can you say Lenny Kravitz?

      The fans have been abused by the promoters and acts for decades.

      Now the fans are fighting back.

      I’m not saying every show is gonna stiff, I’m just saying duplicitous sales techniques are going to backfire.

      As it is, many of the initial sales are to brokers anyway, despite Ticketmaster’s hoopla about Verified Fans, it doesn’t work, but don’t expect the media to divine that, no the solution is dynamic pricing, otherwise brokers would be scalping airline tickets.

      Stones tickets don’t get scalped, and they’ve got the highest grosses around. Because they sell the tickets for what they are worth, and they flex price them accordingly, if demand is low, they drop the price.

      Maybe Jay Z’s nosebleed seats should have been ten bucks to begin with. No one wants to sit in the upper deck. Sure, with some hot acts it’s enough just to be in the building. But if it’s a legacy act…

      That’s right, Jay Z is a heritage artist. Once again, don’t judge heat by the manipulated mainstream press, go to the Spotify Top 50 to see what people are really listening to. Jay Z was so busy propping up his lame gonna die Tidal that he held the album back from Spotify, but it never really penetrated anyway, because the audience has turned over, it is young.

      This is the biggest story in music and one the old farts want to deny. They’ve been so busy bitching about streaming they missed the memo. Streaming is saving the business, did you see Sony’s numbers? But it’s saving a whole different set of acts, mostly hip-hop, who got on the streaming bandwagon early.

      This even seems to be biting Taylor Swift in the ass. Her new track “Gorgeous” is not in the Spotify Top Fifty. And she may still do good business, but those multiples…

      You see you live and die on the hit. Unless you’re not playing the hit game at all, like the classic rockers. But if you’re Katy Perry…

      Whose tour is also soft. And there has been publicity about it. But the pop network is not as good as the hip-hop one.

      So people will rush to buy tickets…

      Then again, that’s been stopped to a degree. Because many people don’t want to pay in advance, they don’t want to sit in their underwear on Saturday morning, they’d rather overpay a week before when they know they want to go and can choose their seat. Kinda like the World Series. You could get a ticket right before the game. But those tickets were expensive, and owned by brokers.

      So the brokers are taking a hit on bad seats at concerts. But they cover the spread with good ones. Yet acts play to arenas with thousands of empty seats and it ruins their image, and next time around people don’t rush to buy so fast.

      And could it be that Jay Z has gone to the well too many times? This is happening in the country world, acts are touring endlessly, to diminishing returns.

      So what we have is an information war. Once fans see that often the on sale is fictitious hoopla, they’ll hold back.

      We need a better system.

      The fans are revolting the same way they did with Napster, when they refused to overpay for an album with one good track. Everybody said the fans were thieves but the truth is they were sophisticated and portending the future. Same deal here, the future is more information, not less, obfuscation is gonna fade. We need a better pricing model.

      As for getting fans in cheaply, go paperless or forget it.

    • Ltia Bee

      My question is: how is a $6 ticket part of a genius plan to increase overall concert receipts?

      because livenation/jay z didn’t sell it. they sold this at their on face value which was $27~30 ish. those $6, $10 tickets are reseller’s ticket. it doesn’t matter if they sold it $0.99 or not, they already paid $27~30 full price.

      Even more so: why is offering thousands upon thousands of $10 tickets (or $12 tickets, etc.) part of a genius moneymaking strategy? Cheaper tickets ENCOURAGE more scalping, not the other way around.

      again it’s reseller.

      Even worse: scalpers might be disinterested in this show because demand is in the toilet. Meaning, nobody is trying to buy these tickets in the primary OR secondary markets.

      and that was point livenation said on billboard, sold cheap seat at more cheap price so resellers can go away.

  9. Dee

    I think everyone has gotten too greedy. Everyone wants to make money on every point. You have to choose. You want information distributed for free, let ads cover the cost. This way has worked for decades. You exhaust your fans and don’t gain new ones because no one wants to pay for music they may not like. You have to get it out there. Rappers use to know this.
    They would hustle tapes on the street. Tyler Perry came up on the sale of his bootleg and by word of mouth. You all are listening to greedy people who want a quick dollar and don’t care about your career, reputation, and longevity. Put aside your pride. Go back to the people and get out there. They will only buy what they can hear. You have to flood the market because people no longer so still and listen to the same thing in the same room at the same time. You all are delusional. Marketing has changed. You better change with it, or will get run over. Get you content to the most people for free and they will buy. You all laugh at Perry, but he gets it. Kanye might be crazy, but he used to get it. What are you all going to do?