Arena Tours are Dinosaurs

Here’s a column from titled Artists Are Canceling Arena Tours Right and Left. Maybe They Shouldn’t Have Been Playing Arenas in the First Place.

Last week, the Black Keys, a band best known for soundtracking car commercials and occasionally fistfighting fellow Nashville resident Jack White, canceled the entire North American leg of a scheduled arena tour without explanation. Why would a band without a major hit in years think it can sell out arenas in tertiary markets? No one can be sure, but the touring business is in trouble, and part of the reason is ego.

. . .

The Taylor Swifts of the world are still making money on the road, and artists from Wednesday and Waxahatchee to Chappel Roan and Joanna Newsom are selling out shows at great venues. But big arena tours have historically been sustained by early ticket sales, and that part of the market appears to be collapsing. The Twitter account @UnderFaceValue tracks price drops and undersold shows and “other peculiarities across the ticketing ecosystem”; its mantra, because soft sales translate into crazy 11th-hour price breaks, is #PaysToWait. If you’d waited for the right moment, you could have seen the Rolling Stones in Seattle for $29, 21 Savage in Chicago for $19, or George Strait and Chris Stapleton in Indianapolis for $13.

I wonder if Heather Wilson reads GQ.


  1. It’s not just the Black Keys who are cancelling. J Lo just cancelled her entire tour “to spend time with family.” In other words, there were poor ticket sales. Not just her. Motley Crue with Def Leppard played to a mostly empty concert at Wembley. The Post Covid rush, where fans were secluded and tours cancelled, is over. It’s back to business as normal and the Huge Stadium/Arena tours aren’t out there. There are only so many Taylor Swift or Beyonce tours out there. On top of that, the DOJ is looking at Live Nation/Ticketmaster as a monopoly, so that will affect the large venues this Corp. sponsors. And, again, as I’ve posted, who knows what the future will bring in terms of economics. Right now, not everyone can afford a $500 ticket and the El Paso Metropolitan area is ranked #22 in terms of poverty among 386 of the country’s metro areas. So, how much disposable income is there? And will the Big Stadium/Arena groups even bother to stop in El Paso while Austin/Houston/Dallas/San Antonio beckons?

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