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Blockbuster tours and fests boost UK music tourism

UK music tourism increased by 33% in 2023 thanks to concerts from the likes of Beyoncé, The Weeknd, Harry Styles and Blur and festivals including Glastonbury, Boomtown and TRNSMT.

Around 19.2 million music tourists (national and international) attended live music events across the UK last year, up from 14.4 million in 2022, according to new research from UK Music.

This figure includes 1.014 million foreign music tourists (roughly in line with 1.053m in 2022) and 18.2m domestic music tourists (an increase of 36% from 2022 when the total was 13.3m).

London saw a 40% rise in music tourists from 4.9 million in 2022 to 6.9 million in 2023, while the South West saw an 86% increase from one million in 2022 to two million in 2023, and the North East enjoyed a 29% increase from 352,000 in 2022 to 489,000 in 2023.

“The UK’s thriving music industry continues to be one of our most powerful global exports”

Music tourism spending in 2023 also surged to £8 billion, a 21% increase from 2022 when the figure was £6.6bn.

That figure includes £4.2bn spent directly by music tourists attending concerts and festivals in the UK, including the cost of a ticket, on-site spend, travel, accommodation, and meals while travelling to events. A further £3.8bn was spent indirectly through the value chain, including costs such as fencing and security or a restaurant paying for ingredients.

Total employment sustained by music tourism increased too, surging 17% from 53,000 in 2022 to 62,000 in 2023.

Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour is likely to give a further significant boost to figures for 2024, making the UK one of the global touring centres, says umbrella association UK Music.

“The UK’s thriving music industry continues to be one of our most powerful global exports and an important driver of economic growth,” says UK culture secretary Lisa Nandy.

“In towns and cities across the country, the music industry provides entertainment, employment and inspiration to millions. This government will work hard to ensure our creative industries get the support they need to flourish, driving opportunity and economic growth into every community and inspiring the next generation of performers.”

“We’re looking forward to working with the new Government to ensure that all our towns and cities have thriving music ecosystems”

Despite the growth in UK music tourism, independent festivals and grassroots music venues are still struggling with rising costs and changes in ticket-buying habits.

The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) reported that 50 UK festivals have completely closed or been postponed or cancelled for 2024, while the Music Venue Trust (MVT) reports that 125 venues in 2023 either shut or stopped live music.

“While music generates huge benefits for our local areas, beyond a handful of very successful musicians the opportunities for many artists are becoming increasingly squeezed,” says UK Music Chief Executive Tom Kiehl.

“Grassroots music venues and festivals, studios and rehearsal spaces are facing tough economic pressures and it’s vital that the music ecosystem that enables musicians and artists to perform is supported to ensure that everyone – no matter where they live – can have access to music.

“We’re looking forward to working with the new Government to ensure that all our towns and cities have thriving music ecosystems that support the growth of the industry – generating thousands more jobs, boosting economic growth and making their areas even more attractive to visitors.”

Last week, live music business organisations in the UK delivered their verdicts on the King’s Speech, which outlined the new Labour government’s legislative priorities.

 


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Stadium success: But at what cost?

One of the big stories of 2023 is the hot stadium summer. In some countries, stadium concerts took place almost every weekend during the warmer months, and there were incredible attendance figures reported, such as 1m people going to concerts in just one weekend in London.

With the opportunity to create eye-popping shows that more fans than ever get to experience, plus eye-popping income, the appeal of a stadium run is obvious. Yet, with higher production costs than an arena run or a festival tour, they’re not for the faint-hearted.

But what effect has this had on the rest of the business? It’s only a rare handful of acts and promoters that work on these blockbuster shows. The majority of the international touring business – and the majority of promoters’ income – is from club, theatre, and arena concerts.

As German promoter Scumeck Sabottka grimly noted last year: “We don’t just live on cake, we live on bread. And all the bread is gone.” His summary will feel familiar to many promoters around the world. Most countries are dealing with high inflation in some form; consumer spending is under pressure and – as has always been the case – when people are worried about money, they take fewer risks when it comes to seeing live entertainment. So, it’s the established or super-hot names that thrive, while the rest have to work harder than ever to sell tickets.

The public appetite for these mega events shows no sign of abating

So, are the stadium shows affecting the rest of the business? At the time of writing, Pollstar figures show the number-one selling tour in the world for the quarter to 25 September was Taylor Swift – her concerts grossed $756.m. With an average ticket price of $253.56, she had sold almost 3m tickets across 54 shows.

Number two was Beyoncé, whose average ticket price of $198.74 saw her gross reach $390.2m from almost 2m tickets. Interestingly, the third and fourth highest-grossing tours (Harry Styles and Coldplay, respectively), were each charging an average ticket price almost $100 dollars less than Beyoncé: $109.01 for Styles and $109.96 for Coldplay. Both acts sold in the region of 2.5m tickets.

The public appetite for these mega events shows no sign of abating. Live Nation’s Q2 2023 results showed attendance at its stadium shows was up 28% on the same period the previous year to a total of 8m fans. The company says the top markets for these mega-shows were Europe and Asia Pacific. For context, Live Nation’s arena dates saw an attendance increase of 19% to 10.7m people, largely in Canada, Asia Pacific, and Latin America.

Are these high ticket prices and higher-than-last-year attendances hitting people’s ability to buy tickets to an arena or club date? Detlef Kornett is co-CEO of DEAG, which owns promoters and ticketing companies across Europe, including Kilimanjaro Live in the UK; Wizard Promotions and I-Motion in Germany; and CSB Island Entertainment in Denmark. And while his company also promoted stadium dates this year, he says these massive dates not only affected the rest of the business but were also competing for audiences among themselves.

“One of the most notable effects of these large stadium tours is the diversion of ticket sales and audience attention”

“The smaller the market is, the tougher it gets. Bern, Switzerland, has a million people living in the wider vicinity, but within ten days, Guns N’ Roses, Muse, and Motley Crüe and Def Leppard all played stadium shows. It’s not only an issue in smaller markets. In the UK, the number of stadium shows were at a record level.

“[These concerts mean] the majority of artists are competing with those huge brand-name acts. It’s not just a matter of how big the consumer’s purse is and whether they also can afford to go to a show that might normally sell 5,000-7,000 tickets. It’s also about visibility. Budgets for stadium shows are high, brand recognition is high, market penetration is high, editorial coverage is focused on the biggest names. So, everyone else is competing with that.

“For some artists who have a steady enough following and have a good enough presence on the web, they won’t be affected by stadium shows. But for acts that don’t have a high enough level of interaction with their fans, it’s a lot harder.”

Filippo Palermo, co-founder and managing partner of Australian independent promoter and festival organiser Untitled Group, says: “One of the most notable effects of these large stadium tours is the diversion of ticket sales and audience attention. When major artists embark on stadium tours, they essentially absorb a portion of the available ticket-buying capacity in the market. Some people who would otherwise attend smaller shows might opt for the spectacle of a stadium tour.”

Neil O’Brien suggests packaging artists together could be a way of ensuring mid-level artists continue to make money

However, he adds: “I still believe there’s room for coexistence provided the right strategies are in place to cater to different segments of live music audiences.”

And, as AEG Presents France managing director Arnaud Meersseman notes in our market report (see page 18), “There are tentpole events and artists that perform extremely well; there are newer things that perform extremely well; and then there’s that whole middle area where it’s just a bog and things aren’t that great.”

Agency Neil O’Brien Entertainment in London represents acts such as Ocean Colour Scene, UB40, Dionne Warwick, Brand New Heavies, and Joe Bonamassa. Founder Neil O’Brien says he’s heard reports of the big shows squeezing the middle but says it’s about time the mid-level saw something of a ticket-price change.

“Although the costs of everything is going up and up, people are still going out for entertainment. On one end, ticket prices have gone up disproportionately. It’s the middle that needs to change a bit.” He says getting creative with bills and marketing is key to success and suggests packaging artists together could be a way of ensuring mid-level artists continue to make money.

Anna-Sophie Mertens, VP of touring at Live Nation UK, tells us she thinks an uptick in prices for mid-level shows is a necessary correction. “The UK at club- and theatre-level has, for the most part, been under-priced in my opinion, so we are seeing a rebalance in this area,” she says.

“I think we will see more and more stadium shows”

And it’s not just mid-level acts that are feeling the pinch. Vincent Sagar, director of independent promoter Opus One, wonders if festivals will be affected. “What we saw this year is many young talents such as Harry Styles and Taylor Swift went from arenas to stadiums without going through festivals first.” He notes that this year, the stadium industry has developed the ability to create a new generation of acts able to play such large audiences.

DEAG’s Kornett says the company analysed the effects of stadium tours on the rest of the industry, seeking to discover how to mitigate their effects. “It felt like there was no logic to what worked and what didn’t do so well. There were bands that for years always held solid and all of a sudden didn’t work. And there were bands that you felt were on the verge of selling half an arena, but they soared, and there’s no explanation for it.

“We did research. We did surveys. We wanted to get to the bottom of it, but there was no science to what worked and what didn’t. It is purely a matter of factors such as whether you went on sale in the same week as a huge show; if you did your marketing push at the same time as a stadium show tried to fill the upper tiers. That’s hard to predict and manage.” And he says that while 2023 might be an outlier in terms of sheer number of stadium shows, the trend is here to stay, and it’s only going to grow.

“I think we will see more and more stadium shows, as some of the big names managed to get the economics organised in such a way that they fare better doing a stadium show than a festival. If you’re confident your name can sell enough tickets, it has become a fully legitimate alternative to do your own tour rather than tour festivals. Of course, there may be other motivations to play festivals, such as to show a different side of your repertoire, re-engage with an audience you don’t get to usually, and so on. But for some, it’s economics: they have a big show, and they want to give the full experience, which you can’t really do at a festival.

“I don’t think we’ll see as many stadium shows in 2024, but it will remain at a higher level than 2019.”

The Global Promoters Report 2023, the latest indispensable guide to the industry’s leading promoters and touring territories, is out now.

 


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Taylor Swift, Beyoncé lead highest-grossing tours of 2023

The highest-grossing tours of 2023 have been revealed, with Taylor Swift and Beyoncé in the first and second spots.

Swift this year performed 66 shows in the US, Mexico and South America on The Eras Tour, generating more than US$900 million in ticket sales, according to estimates from Billboard.

While no official numbers have been reported yet, Swift’s tour should pass Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour ($939.1m) as the highest-grossing concert tour of all time.

Moreover, this year’s gross for The Eras Tour is expected to nearly double in 2024, becoming the first concert tour in history to gross more than US$1 billion.

Beyoncé meanwhile grossed $579.8m and sold 2.8 million tickets on her Rennaisance World Tour between 10 May and 1 October, according to figures reported to Billboard Boxscore.

Beyoncé and Swift are the only two women and only American solo artists in the top 10 tours in Boxscore history

During Billboard‘s tracking period of 1 November 2022 and 30 September 2023, the Renaissance World Tour earned $570.5m and sold 2.7 million tickets, plus another $9.3m and 53,200 tickets in Kansas City on 1 October.

That makes it the biggest one-year sum for an artist in Boxscore history, dating back to the mid-1980s. Both Bad Bunny and Ed Sheeran grossed more than $434m in 2022 and 2018, respectively.

The Renaissance World Tour is the seventh highest-grossing tour in the Boxscore archives. Swift joins her as the only two women and only American solo artists in the top 10. Beyoncé is also the only Black artist on the all-time ranking.

Beyoncé and Swift lead a touring boom in 2023, with more tours than ever grossing above $300m (three), $200m (seven) or $100m (17).

Also in the top 10 highest-grossing tours for 2023 is Coldplay ($342.5m for 55 shows), Harry Styles ($338.2m for 69) and Morgan Wallen ($260.4m for 44).

In the bottom half of the top 10 is Ed Sheeran ($256.9M for 46), P!nk ($226.6m for 37 shows), Elton John ($210m for 65), The Weeknd ($192.5m for 35) and Depeche Mode ($175.2m for 47).

 


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Beyoncé scores top-grossing European gigs of ’23

Beyoncé’s multi-night stand at London’s Tottenham Hotspur Stadium has been crowned as the highest-grossing European concert run of 2023.

According to Pollstar, the singer’s five-show residency from 29 May to 4 June grossed $38,986,169 from 240,330 ticket sales to head this year’s pack. General ticket prices ranged from £50-200.

The UK concerts edged out Harry Styles, who finishes a close second on the list after his four Wembley Stadium dates, held from 13-17 June, generated $37,341,665. More tickets (335,394) were sold for Styles’ gigs, but at lower prices (£46.25-140.25).

Coldplay’s Music of the Spheres Tour occupies the No.3 to No.6 slots with the band’s four concerts at each of Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam, Netherlands ($30,322,573); Milan’s San Siro Stadium in Italy ($29,439,180); Barcelona’s Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys ($27,262,896) and Ullevi Stadium in Gothenburg, Sweden ($26,242,821) from May to July. The top 6 engagements were all promoted by Live Nation.

Beyoncé’s record-breaking Renaissance World Tour officially wrapped at the start of this month

Elton John’s nine-date Farewell Yellow Brick Road residency at The O2 in London, promoted by AEG Presents/Marshall Arts between 2-17 April checks in at No.7, having earned $25,263,019.

Coldplay feature again at No.8 and No.9 with their four-show stops at Manchester UK’s Etihad Stadium ($24,164,085) – staged by SJM/Live Nation/Metropolis – and Coimbra Stadium in Portugal ($21,473,885) – presented by Live Nation – respectively, with the top 10 rounded off by FKP Scorpio’s Hurricane Festival in Germany ($20,065,948). The top 25 can be viewed in full here.

Beyoncé’s Renaissance World Tour officially wrapped at the start of this month after earning more than $579 million worldwide at the box office. The 56-date 2023 tour saw the star perform for over 2.7 million fans around the globe and set numerous records, including overtaking Madonna’s 2008/09 Sticky & Sweet trek to become the highest-grossing tour by a female artist ever.

 


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Beyoncé’s Renaissance World Tour wraps at $579m

Beyoncé’s record-breaking Renaissance World Tour has officially wrapped after earning more than $579 million (€554m) worldwide at the box office.

The 56-date 2023 tour, produced by Parkwood Entertainment and promoted by Live Nation, saw the singer perform for over 2.7 million fans worldwide and closed at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, on Sunday (1 October).

The tour has set numerous records, overtaking Madonna’s 2008/09 Sticky & Sweet trek to become the highest-grossing tour by a female artist ever. The 42-year-old also smashed her own record for the highest-grossing month of any touring artist since Billboard Boxscore records began in 1985.

Production included a 300-plus member touring crew, including musicians, dancers and production teams, while fans could access exclusive concert viewing experiences including Pure/Honey On Stage Risers – an opportunity to see the show on the stage – along with BeyHive VIP and Club Renaissance areas surrounding the stage.

The haul dwarfs the $256.1m grossed by the Texan’s previous 2016 Formation run, and also surpasses it by half a million in terms of ticket sales.

Renaissance kicked off with shows in Europe throughout May and June, including five sold out nights at London’s Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, which grossed $42.2m in a record-breaking residency for a US artist.

Beyoncé has announced the concert film Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé, which will be screened in movie theatres this December

Revenue also exceeded $10 million for two nights at each of the Friends Arena in Stockholm, Sweden; Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam, the Netherlands; and in Warsaw. She also achieved the feat in just one date at the Stade de France in Paris. Her previous world tour, 2016’s Formation, sold 300,000 tickets in the UK alone.

Beyoncé sold more than one million tickets for the European leg overall, grossing $154.4 million (€141.6m) from 1.05m ticket sales over 21 dates, before the outing headed to North America in July.

In conjunction with the final show, the American star has announced the concert film Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé, which will be screened in movie theatres this December. According to a statement, the film “chronicles her intention, hard work as creative and producer, and her process in mastering her craft to execute the 56-performance, 39-city, record-breaking and phenomenally successful global outing”.

 


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Beyoncé smashes Madonna box office record

Beyoncé has overtaken Madonna to achieve the highest-grossing tour by a female artist in Billboard Boxscore history, according to new figures.

Billboard reports that the 42-year-old’s Live Nation-promoted Renaissance World Tour has now generated $461.3 million (€435m), surpassing the $408m grossed by Madonna’s 2008/09 Sticky & Sweet Tour (although Madonna still comes out on top once the takings are adjusted for inflation).

In addition, Beyoncé has smashed her own record for the highest-grossing month of any touring artist since Boxscore records began in 1985.

Renaissance‘s North American tour leg netted $179.3m (€169m) from 697,000 ticket sales across 14 concerts in August. The haul bettered the previous best of $127.6m in July for 11 shows – set by Beyoncé just one month earlier – by more than 40%.

The Texan has now scored the highest-grossing tour in three months of 2023

Highlights included her three-night stand at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium from 11-12 & 14 August, which sold 156,000 tickets for a total gross of $39.8m.

The Texan has now scored the highest-grossing tour in three months of 2023 – May, July and August – and sits alongside Bad Bunny and Harry Styles as the only acts whose tours have achieved $100m+ months this year.

Beyoncé sold more than one million tickets for the tour’s opening European leg, which ran from May to June, grossing $154.4 million (€141.6m) from 1.05m ticket sales over 21 dates.

Billboard forecasts the CAA-booked world tour to have passed the $500m mark at the box office by the time it wraps up in Kansas City at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on 1 October.

 


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Social media driving live’s growth, says top US analyst

Social media will play an increasingly significant role in a booming live event economy in the US, according to an analyst at one of the Big Four banking institutions in the country.

The role of social in fan growth globally was highlighted in a note sent to clients last week by Bank of America analyst Jessica Reif Ehrlich, who commented: “The live entertainment industry has been one of the most robust growth engines of the music industry over the past 20+ years.”

According to a recent estimate from Morgan Stanley, summer concerts by artists including Taylor Swift and Beyoncé, as well as blockbuster films such as Barbie and Oppenheimer, are expected to add a combined $8.5 billion to US growth in the current quarter.

Ehrlich laid out five catalysts that will lead to sustained long-term growth in the industry: continued spending shifts towards services and experiences; healthy pricing power amid increased demand; positive supply and demand trends as social media apps like TikTok boost global awareness and fan growth; the relatively “disruption-proof” nature of live events as virtual methods remain incomparable; and the advent of experiential marketing.

“The live entertainment industry has been one of the most robust growth engines of the music industry over the past 20+ years”

“Not surprisingly, we believe talent, especially artists that command huge fan bases, will be able to increasingly extract incremental value out of the ecosystem (largely driven by increasing supply and ticket pricing), while venues, which have several independent revenue streams, accrue the most value,” Ehrlich said.

The comments echo Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino who spoke at Bank of America’s Media, Communications, and Entertainment Conference last Wednesday (13 September).

“It’s that important badge in [a fan’s] life to make sure that they can tell people they were at the Beyoncé show,” he explained. “Artists and what they’re able to drive with that relationship, with that fan, [through live] is just a bond that we’ve never seen before — especially with social media.”

Noting the hit the industry took from Covid-19, Ehrlich assured clients that “consumer demand for live entertainment has come roaring back”. “This backdrop has supported supply and demand tailwinds which all appear to be sustainable over the next several years.”

“Live entertainment is currently the brightest star in the broader media and entertainment universe,” she said.

 


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Beyoncé tops box office for highest-grossing month

Beyoncé has posted the highest-grossing month of any touring artist since the Billboard Boxscore launched in the mid-1980s.

The star grossed $127.6 million in July for 11 shows on the North American leg of her Renaissance World Tour, with more than half a million tickets sold.

With the new Boxscore figures, Beyoncé knocks Bad Bunny and his 123.6m gross in September 2022 off the top spot.

Highlights from the past month on the Renaissance World Tour include two nights at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium ($33.1m), a night at Chicago’s Soldier Field ($30.1m) and two shows at Toronto’s Roger’s Centre ($18.3m).

Up until 1 August, The Renaissance World Tour has grossed $295.8m and has been crowned as the singer’s highest-grossing tour to date long before its conclusion.

This isn’t the first time Beyoncé has set a Boxscore record with the Renaissance World Tour; her five-show run at London’s Tottenham Hotspur Stadium grossed $42.2m was the highest-grossing engagement ever by a woman, a Black artist, or any American artist.

With two months of shows yet to be reported, Billboard expects the total to soar past the half-billion mark

With two months of Renaissance World Tour shows yet to be reported, Billboard expects the total to soar past the half-billion mark.

The 41-year-old conquered Europe with a $150-million run but has made almost as much ($141.4 million) in North America with far fewer shows.

Her 12 North American dates have averaged $11.8 million, which is more than double the business that Beyoncé was doing in the territory on 2016’s The Formation World Tour and 2018’s On the Run II Tour with Jay-Z.

The CAA-booked tour is due to wrap up in Kansas City at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on 1 October.

Fans of the singer were recently given the chance to buy “listening only” tickets for select US tour dates. The US$157 passes offered admission for seats behind the stage, with no view of the show.

The “limited view” tickets – which are usually sold to visually impaired people at a reduced price – were first made available for the 41-year-old’s 29-30 July concerts at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium.

 


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Renaissance becomes highest-grossing Beyoncé tour

Beyoncé’s Renaissance World Tour has officially been crowned as the singer’s highest-grossing tour to date after generating US$295.8 million (€268.9m) at the box office.

The haul, reported by Billboard Boxscore, surpasses the $256.1m grossed by 2016’s Formation run, and could yet go on to generate over $500m, with more than 20 tour dates still to go.

While the 56-date Renaissance (1.6 million) currently trails the 49-date Formation in terms of ticket sales (2.2m) it is projected to move another one million tickets to settle on around 2.6m by the tour’s end. Her 2018’s On the Run II Tour alongside Jay-Z brought in $253.5m from ticket sales of 2.17m.

Beyoncé sold more than one million tickets for Renaissance’s recent European leg, which became the 41-year-old’s biggest non-US tour leg. The Live Nation-promoted 21-date run finished at Warsaw’s PGE Narodowy Stadium in Poland at the end of June, having grossed $154.4m from 1.05m ticket sales.

The tour is due to wrap up in Kansas City at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on 1 Octobe

The CAA-booked tour is due to wrap up in Kansas City at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on 1 October.

Fans of the singer were recently given the chance to buy “listening only” tickets for select US tour dates. The US$157 passes offered admission for seats behind the stage, with no view of the show.

The “limited view” tickets – which are usually sold to visually impaired people at a reduced price – were first made available for the 41-year-old’s 29-30 July concerts at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium.

 


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‘Listening only’ tickets sold for Beyoncé tour

Beyoncé fans have reportedly been given the chance to buy “listening only” tickets for the star’s Renaissance US tour.

The US$157 (€144) passes offer admission for seats behind the stage, with no view of the singer.

According to Yahoo! Finance via Fortune, the “limited view” tickets – which are usually sold to visually impaired people at a reduced price – were first made available for the 41-year-old’s 29-30 July concerts at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium.

General tickets for Beyoncé’s next tour stop – a 5 August date at FedExField in Landover, Maryland, are currently on sale from $221. The singer was due to perform tonight at Pittsburgh’s Acrisure Stadium, only for the show to be cancelled last month as a result of “production, logistics and scheduling issues”.

Beyoncé sold more than one million tickets for the tour’s recent European leg

The North American leg of the Renaissance World Tour launched in Canada at Toronto’s Rogers Centre on 8 July and is due to conclude in Kansas City at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on 1 October.

Beyoncé sold more than one million tickets for the tour’s recent European leg. The Live Nation-promoted 21-date run, which finished at Warsaw’s PGE Narodowy Stadium in Poland at the end of June, grossed $154.4 million (€141.6m) from 1.05m ticket sales, according to Billboard Boxscore.

The haul marks the first time the singer has generated a seven-figure total from a single tour leg. She also set 12 local records in the 14 markets she visited in Europe.

 


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