Suzanne Cordeiro / Getty Images – Justin Timberlake
Justin Timberlake performs during the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, Oct 21, 2017. Timberlake embarks on his “Man of The Woods” tour March 13, in support of his latest album of the same name.
On the same day that Justin Timberlake announced the first North American leg of his “Man of The Woods” world tour, Wonderful Union, an agency handling VIP ticketing initiatives, announced an innovative VIP experience that should leave JT fans and thirsty souls alike clamoring for tickets.
“A stage bar that allows fans to watch the show from their own bar stool right up against center stage,” the firm’s CEO Eddie Meehan explained. The package also comes with a free drink from the VIP bar, in addition to the usual VIP amenities, such as priority access and free merch.
“We’re not giving too many details away about the stage setup, but it’s set up in a way where there’s an end stage and a unique catwalk,” Meehan continued. “In the middle there’s a VIP bar and fans are able to come to the show early, access the pre-show lounge, have some snacks and drinks. Then they can go out to the bar in the middle of the show and continue the party. It’s exciting, I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Prices for each VIP package vary on the artist and the market. Timberlake’s stage bar package for his show at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., will cost $1,000. His other packages are less expensive, such as the “GA Party Pit” VIP experience, which costs $849.
“Based on the market and the client, we kind of have a ballpark of what we are looking for and what we want to accomplish financially,” Meehan said. “Most of these seats are going to be two people – very rarely do people buy one VIP ticket for themselves. You want to keep it within reason.”
The idea for the stage bar apparently came from the “SexyBack” singer himself.
“It comes down from the boss, so it’s definitely Justin engaging his fans and coming up with ideas that are what he wants. He’s the boss and it’s his show, so our job is to execute and make sure everyone has a good time,” Meehan said.
Wonderful Union – Eddie Meehan
Wonderful Union, founded in 2006, works with artists to develop experience-oriented VIP packages for fans. The company’s clientele ranges from Miley Cyrus to G-Eazy, who recently announced his own VIP package that gives fans the opportunity to get a haircut from his own barber in his own unique style. Fans also get to meet G in person.
“I’ve been working with G since he was playing 200-seat rooms,” Meehan said. “I’m good friends with that whole camp. It was an issue of wanting to get G’s barber out, because his hair is a big part of his look and we were like, ‘Why don’t we offer 10 or 20 packages a night where fans get to meet G and have fun and get a haircut just like G’s.”
The hairstyles, however, were confined to G-Eazy’s signature slick back with a hard side part.
“We’ll do 150 meet-and-greets with G over on this side of the room and at the same time we have our 20 people – depending on the market – getting their haircuts during that same time. It’s not like, ‘Oh you can go and get a haircut whichever way you want it.’ You get the same haircut as G-Eazy. People love it.”
The way artists have offered tickets has changed drastically in the past decade, Meehan said.
When he began working with clients, concepts like selling tickets with meet- and-greet opportunities were still not widely practiced.
“Five years ago, it was okay to get a ticket and a meet-and-greet and a laminate that doesn’t get you anywhere. But that kind of stuff is just dumb. People want more. They want to feel fully entertained and they want to feel special.
“Twenty years ago it was $20 for a concert, now you’re lucky if you get in for under $100. So, if you’re going to pay that much, why not pay a little bit more and maybe get some merch or some sort of cool experience? It’s a better value to the fans.”
Wonderful Union – G-Eazy
G-Eazy poses with a fan for a VIP meet-and-greet before a show. Fans who purchase Wonderful Union’s G-Eazy VIP tickets with the “Barber” upgrade get the to have their hair cut by the rapper’s personal barber, in addition to meeting G for a photo op.
Wonderful Union has grown exponentially since it began offering VIP Packages, according to the company’s VP of business development Brice Turner. “In 2008, there were four people in a 500-square-foot room we split with another company,” he said. “Now we’re in a 7,100-square-foot building and a 6,000-square-foot warehouse at our home base in Sacramento, Calif.
“Over the past 10 years, we’ve seen offices open in Los Angeles, Nashville and Toronto as well. We’ve seen our team grow 800 percent and our revenue increase over 500 percent.”
While Wonderful Union declined to give exact revenue figures, Turner claimed the company sold more than 125,000 products in 2016. “This aspect obviously depends on a multitude of factors with each client but a well-run VIP campaign for an established artist should have no problem grossing well into the 8-figure range,” he said.
The market and ticketing landscape has clearly changed in the years since JT’s last outing, “The 20/20 Experience World Tour,” which grossed more than $215 million. If current trends continue, that number will inevitably be higher for the “Man of The Woods Tour,” as artists from Jay-Z to Taylor Swift have charged higher prices both to cut out the secondary market and earn higher profits.
Ticket prices for Timberlake’s last tour ranged from around $50-$175, though prices varied with each market, with some tickets as low as $38 and as high as $279. That’s a drastic change from this year’s tour. Low-end tickets for the singer’s April 24 gig at the SAP Center in San Jose, Calif., started at $90 on Ticketmaster at press time, with high-end GA floor tickets around $270, excluding the platform’s resale options.
“The 20/20 Experience World Tour” went on for more than year and consisted of mostly arena stops, with nearly every show selling out. Some of the highest grossing concerts include two gigs at Chicago’s United Center, selling 14,951 tickets and grossing $3.7 million, two at New York City’s Madison Square Garden (27,760 tickets, $3.6 million) and a set at the Barclays Center (14,168 tickets, $2 million.)
The tour also took JT to Europe, the Middle East and Australia, with shows at Germany’s Mercedes-Benz Arena (13,771 tickets, $1.4 million) Russia’s Olympic Stadium (22,705 tickets, $3.8 million) and two back-to-back concerts at Sydney’s Qudos Bank Arena (27,155 tickets, $5 million).
The recently announced first leg of the “Man Of The Woods Tour” runs from March 13 through June 2, with more dates expected to be announced in the coming months.
Timberlake is represented by manager Johnny Wright at Wright Entertainment Group and agent Keith Sarkisian at WME. He is signed to RCA Records. s