Madonna fans were rumbling on social media this week over the high ticket prices for the “Medellín” singer’s Madame X tour kicking off in September. Ticket prices for her theater dates ranged from just over $50 to get in the door and reached $750 for orchestra seats, tapping out at $1,7500 to $2,000 for VIP seats/experiences.
The Queen of Pop’s latest installment of tour dates are in support of her upcoming album, also called Madame X, due out June 14 on Interscope Records. The multi-city tour brings the global superstar to some of the smallest venues she has played in decades, launching with 12 nights at the 2,100-capacity BAM Howard Gilman Opera House in New York then moving to the 3,600-seat Chicago Theatre followed by a nine-night stand at the roughly 2,000-capacity Wiltern theater in Los Angeles.
The theater shows are a departure from the grandeur that fans have experienced in the past. Madonna has been selling out arenas and stadiums since her 1987 Who’s That Girl tour, and the pop icon holds the record for highest-grossing tour for a female artist with her 2008-2009 Sticky & Sweet tour.
Unlike many of her male counterparts on the Top 10 Grossing Tours in Billboard Boxscore History chart, including The Rolling Stones, Coldplay and Guns N’ Roses, Madonna’s Sticky and Sweet tour was able to hit the $400 million mark with only 85 shows. It took AC/DC more than 160 shows to hit $441 million on their Black Ice Tour.
According to Billboard Boxscore numbers, Madonna has managed to earn more per fan with a steady increase in ticket prices over the years. Between the 2006 Sticky & Sweet tour and the 2016 Rebel Heart tour, the average ticket price for a Madonna concert has risen from $114 to $162. Her average ticket price since 2006 has been greater than recent tours from top earners including Bruno Mars, U2, Coldplay and Ed Sheeran.
Stretching back to her 2001 Drowned World Tour, Madonna shows have had an entry fee of $45 (if not more), making the consistent $53.50 in-the-door ticket price for the intimate Madame X trek feel like less of a jump. For her 2019 tour, however, fans entering the buildings at the base price will be a lot closer to the music legend than those who paid $45 to see her at the 20,000-capacity Madison Square Garden, which is more than five times the size of even the largest venue announced for the Madame X tour.
Madonna’s new experimental residency tour follows more than a decade of success of artist residencies in Las Vegas, along with Bruce Springsteen’s lauded Broadway run. Launched in October of 2017, “Springsteen on Broadway” saw The Boss asking between $75 and $800 for the intimate experience at the 975-seat Walter Kerr Theatre in New York.
“Springsteen on Broadway” was originally scheduled to run for four months in the same location but was extended three times. Just 24 hours after announcing her intimate shows, Madonna also added dates to her New York and LA residencies. The new shows were added even before dates were announced for her promised mini-residencies at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, the Boch Center Wang Theatre in Boston, The Met Philadelphia and at the Fillmore Miami Beach at the Jackie Gleason Theatre. The dates and quantity of those shows have yet to be announced, but tour producer Live Nation has stated that they will fall within 2019.
Madge appears to have taken notes from other high-grossing tours in the last few years, such as Jay-Z’s 4:44 trek and Taylor Swift’s impressive Reputation stadium run. Both tours brought in more revenue by increasing the price of premium seats, while allowing upper bowl spaces to remain on the lower end.
While Madonna’s lowest tickets have gone up slightly, her premium seats rose from $350 in the U.S. for her 2015-2016 Rebel Heart tour to $750 for the upcoming shows excluding VIP packages. Fans with plenty of disposable income can purchase front row seats for up to $2,000 in some markets.
Madonna has made a career out of pushing the envelope, but while her experimental touring residencies may seem controversial, they also appear to be astute business practices for a superstar who hasn’t left a seat unfilled in nearly 30 years.