Tickets for Adele‘s 24-date residency at the Colosseum in Las Vegas go on sale Tuesday, offering a select group of fans the chance to see the superstar artist in an intimate, comfortable environment.
The decision not to develop a touring show, mainly out of a desire to avoid contracting COVID-19, marks a stark contrast from the singer’s 2016 tour and its ambitious agenda to create a more artist-focused, fan-friendly concert experience.
Adele’s 107-date 2016 tour was meticulous, with her agent at WME Kirk Sommers negotiating many of the North America shows on a market-by-market basis, getting the best deal possible from promoters in cities like Los Angeles, Chicago and New York. Her 2022 residency is being promoted by one promoter, Live Nation, and obviously takes place in one city, at one venue.
In fairness, that’s the norm for residency shows, as are higher ticket prices. That’s the second major difference between 2016 and 2022: affordability. Tickets for the 2016 tour averaged $107 apiece, earning Adele an average gross of $1.6 million per show.
Tickets for Adele’s Las Vegas residency will likely be two to three times higher based on demand. In fact, it’s possible that as many as one million people may try to log in to Ticketmaster on Tuesday for a chance to buy a maximum of four tickets to one of her 24 shows. At a capacity of 4,100, that’s 98,400 tickets over the course of the entire residency if every seat is available for purchase.
It’s not known what Adele will charge for tickets to her residency, but based on Boxscore data from her last tour and pricing data from other Vegas residencies, enough information is available to create a range of possible prices. If Adele wanted to earn the same $1.6 million per show she did in 2016, she’d have to charge an average price of $373 per ticket, Billboard estimates. That means every $100,000 added or subtracted to each show gross would equal adding or subtracting $23 from the average ticket price (i.e. a $1.7 million gross would cost an average of $396 per ticket while a $1.5 million gross would cost $350).
That’s comparable to what Bruno Mars grossed playing the MGM Grand’s Park Theater in July and August, grossing $1.7 million per show with an average ticket price of $323 – keeping in mind that the Park Theater has 2,000 more seats than the Colosseum. It’s not a perfect comparison, but it supports a likely median price for Adele’s concert at between $300 and $400.
That’s an expensive ticket when compared to her previous tour, and in order to hit a $373 average ticket price, more than half of the tickets are going to be priced over $500, with the top tier price hitting $650 per ticket based on the scaling model venues like the Colosseum use. Typically when high demand tickets go on sale, the best seats sell first — but with ticket prices this high, often the cheapest tickets are the first to go. Besides consumers looking for an affordable entry, lower price tickets are targeted by scalpers because it’s much easier to mark up the price. This brings us to the third biggest difference between 2016 and 2022: Adele’s attitude toward scalpers.
Six years ago, Adele’s management brought on fast-growing U.K. company Songkick to manage her tickets and fend off scalpers trying to buy and flip her tickets for a quick profit. Songkick did this meticulously by examining every transaction it could, looking for accounts and email addresses associated with scalpers, and it worked: Songkick estimates it was responsible for reducing the number of Adele tickets listed on resale sites like StubHub and Vivid Seats by half, a rep for Songkick confirmed to Billboard at the time.
This effort took time and resources, and in order for Songkick to be compensated for its efforts, the company had to receive a large enough allotment of tickets to generate fees. The problem was that Ticketmaster had paid for the rights to sell tickets at some of the venues Adele was playing, eventually leading to a lawsuit that exposed two Ticketmaster employees to a criminal investigation. Eventually, one executive was charged under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act for illegally breaking into Songkick’s computers. As a result, Ticketmaster paid $110 million to Songkick’s owners as part of a settlement and acquired Songkick for an undisclosed sum, using some of the same technology deployed by Songkick for its Verified Fan platform.
When used alongside Ticketmaster’s digital ticket products, Verified Fan can help artists effectively shut down ticket scalping at concerts. If you’re a fan of Adele, who will use Verified Fan on Tuesday when tickets for her 2022 tour go on sale, that’s great – the fewer scalpers, the better odds one has of scoring tickets.
Adele won’t be that aggressive, however. Instead, she’ll use the Verified Fan platform to require everyone buying tickets to register in advance, helping create a level playing field for fans by eliminating some of the structural disadvantages they face in trying to buy tickets for shows targeted by scalpers. Those registrations are screened by Ticketmaster’s computers and eventually placed into a digital lottery system. A randomized drawing is scheduled, and fans are instructed to wait by their keyboards on a set date for a notification that their name has been selected in the lottery, granting them a 10-to-15-minute window to buy tickets for the concert.
But unlike Adele and her team’s aggressive use of Songkick in 2016, the singer won’t be taking advantage of Verified Fan’s most powerful tool — the ability to restrict ticket transferability from one account to another – to prevent scalping of her concert tickets at a markup.
In fairness, many people see restricting transferability as a heavy-handed way of fighting ticket-scalping. It’s also illegal in more than a dozen states, but lawful in Nevada. By not restricting transferability, there will be rampant scalping, even if resellers don’t get first dibs on tickets. The scarcity of tickets for the concert series, coupled with exponentially higher demand and zero deterrence, will inevitably create a ticketing bubble that could double or triple the face value of tickets.
One of the reasons Adele could be taking this approach is money. After all, Ticketmaster operates a major ticket resale site, and allowing resale could be a requirement of her deal with Live Nation. But Adele would only indirectly benefit from this type of arrangement, and overall it doesn’t seem worth the risk. (Neither Adele nor her agent responded to requests for comment for this story.)
The more likely answer is that Adele and Ticketmaster are taking a mostly hands-off approach to the scalping problem because it’s the easiest way to go. Adele can perform without touring, make millions of dollars by charging fans more and not have to deal with all of the headaches and scrutiny that comes with shutting down the secondary market. It’s a plan that follows the explicit wishes vocalized in her first track off the 30 album — “Easy On Me.”
The question is, once fans see the price of tickets and watch them soar on the secondary market, will they feel she took it easy on them?