Pay attention future pop stars: Usher’s strategy for harnessing the Super Bowl’s massive audience into sellout headliner concerts is a master class in how to parlay a career milestone into a legacy solidifying tour.
The R&B icon has been able to capture the pre-game buzz around his performance at the Apple Music Super Bowl LVIII Halftime show with a carefully coordinated presale campaign for his fall Past Present Future tour. Once hardcore fans grabbed their tickets (most went on sale Feb. 9), Usher’s team started expanding the dates based on demand to make sure there will still be plenty of tickets available for the general public on the Monday (Feb. 12) after the game.
So far, there have been 360,000 tickets sold in presale for the Past Present Future tour, according to Live Nation Global Touring chairman Arthur Fogel, and dates have expended from 24 to 44 across the U.S. since the initial presale launched on Thursday (Feb 8). Billboard estimates that when the remaining tickets will go on sale Monday after the Super Bowl, the Past Present Future tour with be Usher’s highest grossing tour ever.
“The success of tour began several years ago when Usher launched his residency in Vegas, which re-established his greatness,” Fogel says. “Now he is building off that success with his current tour and the presales prove there is unprecedented demand to see him perform live.”
Ever since Usher was announced as the Apple Music Super Bowl LVIII Halftime Show headliner, his touring team — manager Ron Lafitte, agent and WME partner John Marx and Live Nation promoters Colin Lewis and Fogel — have been building an arena touring strategy that fully capitalizes on the big game’s huge audience. Last year’s win by the Kansas City Chiefs over the Philadelphia Eagles in Glendale, Ariz., was watched by more than 115 million viewers in the U.S., making it not only the most watched Super Bowl in history, but also the most popular TV program of all time in America.
Despite the huge viewership, the last five artists to play the Super Bowl halftime show have not announced headlining tours after their performance. And those who did, like Justin Timberlake in 2018 and Beyonce in 2017, didn’t have any tickets on sale so quickly after the event.
Usher wasn’t going to let the momentum go to waste, though. Days after his Super Bowl Halftime performance was locked in, Marx began plotting out an arena tour. His charge from Usher was to try and replicate the intimacy of his Las Vegas residency shows, first in 2021 at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace and then at the 2022-2023 My Way Las Vegas residency at Dolby Live at Park MGM.
“He wanted to play more multi-night runs in bigger cities,” Marx told Billboard, noting that Usher enjoyed the excitement multi-night engagements generated.
In total, Usher is playing 44 shows in 17 markets (locations for three of dates have not yet been announced). The Past Present Future tour will officially launch in Washington, D.C. (Aug. 20) and includes a four-night stop at Brooklyn’s Barclay Center (Sept. 6-10), four nights at the yet-to-be-opened Inuit Dome in Inglewood, Calif. (Sept. 17-24), three nights in Miami at the Kaseya Center (Oct. 11-14), three nights at State Farm Arena in Atlanta (Oct. 17-20), and three nights at the United Center in Chicago (Oct 28-31).
“Sales are beyond anyone’s wildest dreams right now,” Marx says, noting that even more U.S. dates could be added and that a U.K. and European tour will be announced in the future. “Quite honestly, we’re just getting started,” he adds. “Everything I’ve seen and heard has made it clear to me that people everywhere really want to be at these shows.”