Jay Z and Beyonce's On The Run tour wraps in North America with two nights at AT&T Park in San Francisco, both tonight (August 5) and tomorrow night (August 6). The pair's 19 North American shows will gross over $100 million in ticket sales and has sold at more than 90 percent capacity, according to Omar Al-Joulani, vp of North American touring for Live Nation, the promoter/producer of the tour. Attendance will top out at more than 850,000.
Al-Joulani declined to comment on press reports of rancor between the couple, adding that he hadn’t read it. Regarding such reports, and speculation that Live Nation might be losing money on the tour, Al-Joulani would only say, “everybody’s winning.” And regarding reports that the plug might be pulled on the tour, the promoter adds, “Production is loading-in in San Francisco as we speak.”
Some reports put the couple's performance guarantee at $4 million per show, which is a reasonable figure, considering the tour's nightly take is over $5.2 million from an average attendance of nearly 45,000 per show. As predicted by Billboard back in June -- when inaccurate reports that the tour was struggling began to surface -- sales for the tour finished strong, following a general market trend of tickets selling closer to show date. “These shows sold tremendously well at the end, so we were able to sell-up limited-view and clean up production holds or other holds,” says Al-Joulani. “It was a very successful tour, and we’re pleased to have that big gross number at the end.”
The Jay/Bey tour was conceived and launched fast compared to most stadium tours, which are often planned more than a year in advance. “It came together quite quickly, around mid-March,” says Al-Joulani. “By April, we had everything together, and once the routing was in place we had about three weeks until the tour was announced.”
Considering the quick ramp-up, the fact that both Jay and Beyonce had been on the road much of last year, and the available window was narrow, routing was a bit of a challenge. “We knew we needed a big ‘statement play’ in L.A., and we needed big statement in New York, so we started by figuring out the avails at the Rose Bowl [in Pasadena] and MetLife Stadium [in New York],” Al-Joulani explains, “and then from there it was just a matter of sorting it out.”
Given the “event” status of music’s reigning power couple and the fact that producers were on a tight schedule, “We threw all the usual rules out the window,” Al-Joulani says. “We didn’t worry about days of the week, as long as we were headed in the right direction. There is one beautiful thing about routing late: There’s no messing around, the building is either available or it’s not. You’re not holding for anybody, you’re not waiting for a football or baseball schedules, there was no room for ‘maybes.’ It was all, ‘is this building available?’ which makes your life a lot easier, because there are no variables. And [stadiums] wanted it, so we were able to pick and choose our way through it.”
Along with the “must-play” major markets, the tour routed into some secondary markets like Cincinnati, New Orleans and Seattle “that turned out to be wildly successful,” Al-Joulani says. Cincinatti sold out on the pre-sale, New Orleans was “massive,” and Seattle went completely clean. “We had the greatest time in those markets.”
Production was “epic,” as described by Al-Joulani, with three staging systems hop-scotching across the route. Elements included a moving high-def screen, pyro, hyrdraulic lifts, and a B stage extended well into the audience. “Knock on wood -- we started production load-in in San Francisco at noon today -- every show has gone up on time, with no production issues,” he says, adding that there were no weather issues or delays, either. The total production moved on 42 trucks, with about 150 crew.
Given the unique nature of these two artists, their fans, and the fact that they’ve both toured in the last 18 months, ticket scaling was tricky, but Al-Joulani says the goal was to be inclusive. The low end was $40, then prices went up the chain to P1s topping out at $275, and a wide array of premium packages. “Our strategy was to sell as best as we could on the primary system and to price tickets for what people were willing to pay for them, with a very dynamically priced model, so that wherever you were on that ticket chain, you... had an opportunity to attend the show,” the promoter explains. "We made sure we had affordable tickets as well as the higher-priced tickets that we know the market can bear. Pricing went right across the spectrum.”
Momentum was solid, from the couple’s sizzling Grammy performance in January, Beyonce’s new record carrying through until Q1, a hit in “Drunk In Love,” and the single “On The Run” from Jay Z’s record, as well as a dramatic tour trailer created by the two artists. “We had a lot of things that went into making this tour an event, and that was part of our success,” Al-Joulani says. “These events are driven by content and demand, and being dramatic and creative and putting out content people want to see. The two of them are as about creative as you can get, and it was pretty brilliant to watch them work. The show itself is spectacular.”
Chase handled the pre-sale as the tour’s credit card sponsor, and the financial services firm, “really embraced it and did a great job,” says Al-Joulani. Adding that deal was put together by the Roc Nation sponsorship team, led by Michael Yormark. “He delivered that and did a great job executing and bringing Chase to the relationship.”
After North America, Jay Z and Beyonce will take On The Run to Paris Sept 12-13, which is being shot for an HBO special. “We’re on track to sell out both shows,” says Al-Joulani.
Far from stressed out, Al-Joulani was upbeat and clearly happy with the tour’s success. “This has been a lot of work, but it has been the smoothest, most fun run that I’ve ever worked on,” he tells Billboard. “We have a great group of people on the road, the artists have been phenomenal, both management teams are engaged and available. It has been a ball, and I’m actually sad it’s ending. I wish we could be out for another two months.”