Though Live Nation did not comment on the upcoming dates, this will mark Jay Z’s second summer in a row touring stadiums, after 2013’s Legends of Summer tour with Justin Timberlake, which grossed an average of $5 million per show for 14 dates, according to Billboard Boxscore. The pairing of Jay Z, 44, and Beyonce, 32 -- who shared the No. 1 spot on this year’s Billboard Power 100 list -- joins a growing club of acts who will be playing stadium dates this year including established hitmakers (Eminem, Rihanna), newbies (One Direction), veterans (Dave Matthews Band, Billy Joel) and country kings (George Strait, Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean).
What’s driving the boom? New efficiencies, as promoters find ways for acts with different audiences to share production costs. Brian O’Connell, president of Live Nation Country, says Joel and Aldean, in Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, and Bryan and One Direction, in Boston, Chicago and Philly, will share basic staging for their respective shows taking place on the same weekend.
Also driving the boom is artists’ desire to play to tens of thousands in unique settings. “What do you do after you sell out multiples in arenas and amphitheaters?” asks O’Connell.
“The obvious thing is a stadium, but the financials aren’t that advantageous, because I refuse to jack up the ticket price.”
But acts combining their staging and production offer a solution to that issue. “We’re sharing the costs of putting on the stadium shows, so Luke and Jason are both going into stadiums and the highest price is $90,” says O’Connell.
It’s all adding up to the biggest year for superstar shows since 1994, when the stadium tour business peaked with nearly 9 million fans attending 214 stadium concerts that grossed $337 million, according to Billboard Boxscore. “The idea of having two shows by different acts on the same stage, 48 hours apart, would not have occurred to anybody in 1994,” says O’Connell.
Last year, 94 North American stadium shows were reported to Billboard Boxscore, grossing more than $308 million with 3.4 million tickets sold -- a number likely to be topped this year. “It looks like a big stadium summer, for a couple of reasons,” says Mark Campana, co-president of North American Touring for Live Nation Entertainment. “One, the stadium shows have gotten a lot more efficient in terms of being able to build these stages without it being as expensive as it used to be. And ticket prices are being set at the right level, so now you can sell 40,000 tickets.”