Tickets to Michelle Obama’s arena book tour went on presale Thursday for people who signed up early, and it’s looking as though the former first lady is generating Beyoncé-level sales.
Live Nation, the entertainment company producing the tour, added two dates — a second in Washington and a tour-ending second appearance in Brooklyn — to the 10-city itinerary, apparently in response to brisk sellouts.
Tickets to hear Obama and as-yet-unnamed moderators discuss her upcoming memoir “Becoming” ranged from $29.50 for perches in the nosebleeds to $3,000 for front-row seats and a package that includes a “pre-show photo opportunity,” meet-and-greet reception with Obama, a signed book and other perks, including an “exclusive VIP gift item.”
With many fans snapping up cheap seats first, the big-ticket packages were some of the only seats left soon after the presale started. That didn’t sit well with some would-be attendees who complained about getting priced out. “I love Michelle Obama, I do,” a fan wrote on Twitter. “She is everything. But I am sorely disappointed in how expensive these book tour tickets are.”
“Michelle Obama is out here selling Beyoncé priced tickets and I was not prepared,” another wrote.
Deborah Speer, an editor for concert-industry trade magazine Pollstar, said those prices seem to be in line with those for high-end musical acts. It’s unusual for an author, though, to sell out arenas. “You don’t see it every day, but she’s not a typical author,” she said. “Michelle Obama is kind of a rock star herself.”
Some Twitter users seemed just fine with the prices. “I don’t want to hear a single word about Michelle Obama’s ticket prices,” one fan wrote. “She worked for this country for FREE for eight years. Get that money, Mrs. Obama.”
And each event could generate millions: For comparison, Speer notes that in September 2017, two Paul McCartney shows at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center with tickets ranging from $35 to $356 grossed almost $2.2 million each. (That’s before paying for production, security, venue rental, crews, lighting, sound and other fees.)
Obama and Live Nation said that they planned to donate 10 percent of ticket sales to unspecified “local charities, schools, and community groups” in each city she visits and that fans from those organizations would get free tickets.
Obama herself took to Twitter with her reaction to the sales. “Truly humbled by the response to my upcoming book tour,” she wrote. “I can’t wait to share BECOMING with all of you & hope to see you somewhere along the way!”
And those bemoaning not being able to score a lower-priced seat still have a shot: General public sales begin Friday morning.