U2 stands to make a record amount for its Las Vegas residency (and more about what actually happened with tickets)

U2 begins a 12-date residency at the new MSG Sphere in Las Vegas at the end of September. In case you missed it, all  297,500 tickets for the 17 shows were somehow all sold during the pre-sale. I’ve seen tickets on the resale market for as high as $12,000. That’s not a typo.

Before we go any further, it’s instructive to look at the original prices of tickets. The lowest price anyone could have (at least theoretically) paid was US$140, all fees included. The highest prices for a floor seat? About US$550. That, of course, is not how things worked out.

Over one million people registered to be Verified Fan buyers for the presale, about four times more than the number of seats available. Millions more were lined up behind them. Let’s do that math: 297,500 divided by 1,000,000 = nearly a one in four chance of being disappointed, no matter how big a fan you are.

If we look at just the potential gate from all the tickets sold at face value (i.e. before they ended up on the jacked-up secondary market), the band stands to make €100 million.

That’s €5,882,353 per show. And if assume each gig runs approximately two hours, U2 will make €2,941,176 an hour, just over €49,900 a minute or about €8,179 per second. And because it’s a residency, there are no massive transportation costs. You load in sometime in mid-September and load out 17 shows later.

However you want to slice it, this will be among the very highest paydays for a concert series.

Let’s riff on this for a bit just for fun. To put the Las Vegas adventure into perspective, U2 played in front of 7.3 million people during the 110 shows of the 360 Tour, earning a gross of US$736.8 million. If we adjust for inflation, the figure is US$887,082,982 or €669,023,221.

U2 will make 15% of that amount in just 17 days. Pro-rate that to the 110 shows they had to play a decade ago and you come up with a figure of €1,700,000,000 or US$1,873,350,375.

The actual amount of money that will change hands is several orders of magnitude higher than that. With U2’s blessing (remember that nothing is done without the act’s sign-off), Ticketmaster employed dynamic pricing, which means the cost of tickets adjusted to demand, just like we see with airline tickets, hotel rooms, and Uber on a rainy day. The point of dynamic prices is to make sure the actual market value of a ticket (i.e. the balance of supply and demand) is accurate.

If the act opts out of dynamic pricing, it won’t matter to the fan. The shows will still sell out. Scalpers will inevitably get their hands on tickets (they always do no matter what measures are in place). Ticket prices on the secondary market will skyrocket and that cost gap (the price between the ticket’s face value and what the scalper gets) goes to the scalper and not the act. The scalper profits on the act’s talent and fame, returning nothing.

Yes, there’s a secondary platform run by Ticketmaster where people can resell their tickets. When I last checked, the cheap US$140 tickets were selling for no less than US$950. The US$600 VIP tickets were available for ten times that amount. The difference between Ticketmaster and the outside secondary market is that the new margin goes to the act and not the scalper. That’s fair, right? It still sucks for the fan, but…

All this for the chance to see 75% of U2. Larry is on the sidelines, healing from back surgery, counting his money.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

One thought on “U2 stands to make a record amount for its Las Vegas residency (and more about what actually happened with tickets)

  • May 1, 2023 at 7:19 pm

    Your math is backwards on the chance to see U2. If there are 250k tickets to be had and 1M people wanting them, *only* 1 in 4 *will* get a ticket.


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