When Jay-Z’s 4:44 Tour reported slow ticket sales, many — Uproxx included –wondered if it meant the rap titan was falling off in popularity. Apparently, the joke is on all of us, as the numbers have come in and it looks like the tour turned out to be very successful indeed, reporting nearly $50 million in gross profits, according to Billboard.
According to the report, the slow sales were part of a tactic by the mogul to cut down on scalpers and resellers, turning in more profit for Jay himself, while keeping cheap seats — well, cheap. The slow ticketing model involves pricing premium tickets much closer to the higher price that resale sites like StubHub will ultimately charge after markup. This prevents bots and scalpers from buying up huge blocks of seats all at once and selling them at a markup, ensuring that while fans will wind up missing out on discounts for the best seats, all that money goes to the touring company and ultimately ends up in the artist’s pocket. Meanwhile, upper-level seats generally remain lower-priced, which may fit many fans’ budgets more, although those fans may end up waiting longer to actually purchase those seats as more-desirable ones become unavailable. Taylor Swift used the same strategy for her Reputation Tour and silenced naysayers to the tune $180 million in sales in just seven days.
Per the Billboard report, Jay sold 426,441 tickets overall, grossing $44.7 million in ticket sales and another $4 million in platinum and VIP tickets, for a total of $48.7 million. To put that in perspective, 2014’s Magna Carta Tour reported 42 shows with an attendance of 436,939 and $37.4 million in ticket sales, while 2010’s Blueprint 3 Tour grossed $33.1 million with 439,540 tickets sold for 39 shows. In other words, while he may have sold a relatively smaller number of tickets overall (which makes sense, considering 4:44 was seven dates shorter than Blueprint 3 and ten shorter than Magna Carta), he made more money for fewer shows. Jay is still a business, man, and his returns on his latest foray into arena touring proves that he’s only gotten better with time, both as a performer and as a mogul.