I want to preface this op-ed (read opinion!) by saying that I am a Beyonce’ fan! I’m in the top 5% of her Spotify listeners! I can recite her discography by heart. I love Beyonce’, alright. That love of Beyonce’ is also why I believe that she is not above criticism. As I’m sure you know Beyonce’s Renaissance Tour will be gracing cities around the world beginning this spring. (Please read the previous sentence as “specific portions of Europe and North America”) beginning this spring. Most people have been anxiously awaiting the release of the tickets for months-since the initial announcement of a tour.
Immediately tweets, TikToks and Reels popped up with purported ticket prices and those ticket prices were astronomically high. Fans everywhere were gagged by how much they’d be spending for seats that would be in the nosebleeds. Some sites listing tickets as high as $650 dollars for seats in the rafters). It turns out that those tickets were being listed on reseller websites, but it sparked a thought in my head.
Like most Beyhive members, I have been ready for the Renaissance World Tour since July 29th, 2022. I’ve speculated (on the OffColour Podcast-OffColour Commentary) about what the other 2 parts of the Renaissance Project could be. I had my outfit planned-sequins are involved. And yet, when the actual dates were announced-and potential pricing started to pop up-I felt my excitement drain. Something didn’t feel quite right. And before y’all start-I can afford tickets!
Before we go any further, I must clarify: I have already seen Beyonce’ in concert. I was lucky enough to attend her OTR II concert in 2018, featuring Jay-Z, headlined by Chloe x Halle. It was amazing. I had floor seats and I was so caught up in the experience that I only took one picture. Beyonce’ is one of those performers who I would say is absolutely worth seeing in person. She has such a clear love for performance art and puts her all into every song in the set.
I genuinely think even the nosebleed seats would be worth purchasing at a Beyonce’ concert. At most performances-Beyonce has used some sort of equipment to elevate herself to the higher seats so that they could see her just as well as people on the floor. If you could only choose one artist to see in concert and Beyonce’ is on your list, I’d tell you to choose her every time. With that being said: I’ve come to the conclusion that concert ticket pricing has become obscene and Queen Bey isn’t immune to the trend.
When I attended OTR II, ticket prices ranged from 25 to 380 dollars for general admission. 380 dollars got you on to the floor at almost every stadium. VIP tickets were anywhere between 775 and 1,995 dollars. In 2018, every article highlighted how expensive those tickets were. Each article asked what people would be willing to miss out on to attend. Rent? All foreseeable events for the future? And it turned out people were willing to miss out on a lot. OTR II was doubly as successful as the original OTR tour. All told, OTR II netted a total of $235 million dollars for the Carters. A huge sum and yet it only accounted for 20% of the Carters total net worth (at that time).
So how does all of that relate to Renaissance? With the release of ticket prices (ranging from about $175 to over $7,000 thanks to TicketMaster’s Dynamic Pricing model) I think, as a consumer, that ticket pricing when you are a billionaire and could never manage to spend all of your money in your lifetime, or your children’s lifetimes, that exceeds 300 dollars for any tier is an insult to your fans. This is especially true when your fanbase is largely made of Black, brown and queer people who are often outbid on tickets because they can not afford them as compared to their white counterparts.
A great example of this is Coachella. Beyonce’s Homecoming was a visual ode to Black culture. It featured the Black National Anthem, HBCU Marching Band Styling, stepping and more, and yet Coachella’s audience is 70% white. Black fans-who the concert would have resonated with the most-were largely forced to watch the concert on Netflix.
Renaissance is an album that is influenced heavily by Black Southern queer culture and its impact on current art. Ironically enough, ticket prices will almost certainly exclude a large part of this core community. In addition, the disregard for people’s pockets to announce actual sale of tickets with, for some people, only one day’s notice to actually prepare shows a general lack of concern for fans. Especially when we are close to a recession and the price of eggs has hit up to ten dollars for a dozen in some areas of the country. All of that is before we mention that Beyonce has also dropped a new addition to her Ivy Park Collection. Park Trail released on February 9th with prices ranging between 30 to 600 dollars. This, right in the middle of ticket sales for the Renaissance World Tour.
Renaissance is an ode to minorities, full of callbacks to Black dance music from years past and in heavy collaboration with artists like Tems, SYD, Grace Jones, Big Freedia, Honey Dijon and Ts Madison. The album is dedicated to Beyonce’s Uncle Johnny. The same uncle who introduced her to the black and queer culture that the album is built on. It is an anti-capitalist manifesto with songs like “Break My Soul” and “Energy” front and center. It is a tribute to Ballroom culture, which has always been open and inclusive, even when racial segregation existed across the United States.
Queer people (largely Black and Brown) were able to create families and be their most true selves in a safe, welcoming environment. Capitalism and Ballroom do not and can not coexist. Incredibly, Beyonce has long cited ballroom culture as an influence of hers (no surprise considering her fondness for her Uncle Johnny). As far back as 2006, Beyonce is quoted discussing “…how inspired she’s been by the whole drag-house circuit in the States, an unsung part of black American culture where working-class gay men channel ultra-glamour in mocked-up catwalk shows. ‘I still have that in me’, she says of the ‘confidence and the fire you see on stage…”
And yet a lot of Beyonce’s recent actions don’t align with her messaging. This concert is far from easy and accessible to even the most marginalized of us (like ballroom is). With lyrics like “Only double lines we cross is dollar signs” existing in the same world as Beyonce and Jay-Z (and their guests) crossing literal picket lines for their Oscars Afterparty last year, it’s feeling like her activism is a bit performative-despite philanthropic ventures created and sustained by the BeyGOOD Initiative. If your actions don’t align with your money and your words…the activism is not real. I suppose the question that’s been nagging me about whether or not to purchase tickets, is what is the real message Beyonce’ is sending fans? How am I supposed to “release my job”, abandoning our capitalist structure and also afford your concert tickets, Queen Bey?
I said at the beginning of this op-ed that I love Beyonce’ and I do, but in a time where millions of people are struggling to make ends meet, when we’re on the verge of a recession and COVID cases (which still affect marginalized communities at disproportionately high rates) are once again on the rise, how fans are treated matters more than ever and how much you charge for tickets, when you choose to release them and what platforms you sell tickets on is as much a reflection of that care as the quality of the performance you put on.
Another thing I’m considering when thinking about ticket purchases is the recent Taylor Swift Ticketmaster debacle. Swift’s planned presale was eviscerated by TicketMaster’s inability to deal with what it called ‘historic’ demand for tickets. It was unprepared for the number of bots, Verified Fans, non-Verified Fans and didn’t have enough tickets to meet demand anyway. Many artists use Ticketmaster because a monopoly has developed-a lot of the largest stadiums in the nation only use TicketMaster to source tickets. But artists control this in a way. If they refuse to perform at stadiums that utilize TicketMaster…those venues will stop using the platform.
I’m still not convinced I won’t buy tickets, but I’m less certain than I once was when I first streamed Renaissance. Either way, fingers crossed that some portion of what is sure to be an incredible show winds up on Netflix as Beyonce has yet to complete her three project deal with the streaming platform.
What say you Beyhive? What are you willing to give up to see Beyonce’ in person?