Travis Scott’s Astronomical Astroworld Owns Q1

Travis Scott
– Travis Scott
The first quarter for the live business is generally a slow time of year led by such anodyne holiday fare as Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Mannheim Steamroller. But, then again, the first quarter doesn’t usually have a searing-hot rapper like Travis Scott, whose incendiary “Astroworld: Wish You Were Here Tour” owned Pollstar’s 2019 Q1 Top 100 Tours chart (click here) with an astronomical 438,982 tickets sold.
“Travis is a rock star, there is no question,” says Cara Lewis, the agent extraordinaire who has helped guide Scott’s live career for the past five and a half years. She would know: Her stellar roster includes Chance the Rapper, Khalid and Eminem, another rock-star-like rapper, among others. ‘There really is no one that comes close to the energy and the rapport Travis has with his fans, onstage,” Lewis continues. “His fans are there for him in every way – they are ragers.”
Indeed, the fervor at Scott’s shows is palpable. It’s an energy once found at sweat-drenched punk-rock dives – but instead of throttled trap sets, it’s driving trap beats, many created by the 27-year-old phenom himself.
Scott’s prodigious production work, collabs and mixtapes this decade created a steadily growing buzz that led hip-hop paragons like Kanye West and T.I. to sign him to their GOOD Music and Grand Hustle labels, respectively. He did production on tracks for superstars including Madonna, Jay-Z, John Legend and Drake; featured performers such as Kendrick Lamar, André 3000, Toro Y Moi and Kid Cudi on his own projects; and has sampled artists from Otis Redding to Björk. The Houston rapper’s catalog now includes chart-toppers that zealous fans rap, sing and scream along with in arenas across the country – while feeding off Scott’s combustible energy. 
“It’s like the Ramones meet hip-hop,” says Brad Wavra, Senior Vice President of Touring at Live Nation, who has worked with Scott since his “Birds Eye View Tour” string of club and theater dates in 2017. “Travis comes out and it looks like there’s a riot going on, but it is just raging fun,” Wavra says. “They come out of the show dripping wet and so satisfied.” 
Rick Kern / WireImage
– Astrothunder:
: Travis Scott, whose “Astroworld: Wish You Were Here” tour topped Pollstar’s Q1 Top 100 Tours chart, performing at the inaugural Astroworld Festival at Houston
But as Wavra point out, it’s not just unbridled vigor that makes Scott’s shows unique. “What you see in Travis is something you haven’t seen before,” he says. “It’s a certain brilliance and artistry that only comes along every once in a long while. That guy really gets it. He is so committed to his live performance that you’re blown away every time you see the kind of energy and connectivity he has with his audience.”
Scott has steadily fed his growing fan base’s hunger for new music, releasing a studio album each of the last four years: 2015’s Rodeo, 2016’s Birds In the Trap Sing McKnight, 2017’s Huncho Jack collab with Migos’ Quavo and, finally, 2018’s juggernaut Astroworld. Garnering Scott a “Saturday Night Live” guest spot and three Grammy nominations, Astroworld spent two weeks atop Billboard’s Top 200 Albums chart upon its August release and went double-platinum in January. The album, which includes cameos by Stevie Wonder, Pharrell Williams, The Weeknd, Tame Impala, James Blake and Frank Ocean, was still perched at No. 8 on Billboard‘s albums chart at press time, buoyed by “Sicko Mode,” Scott’s first No. 1 on the Hot 100. 
Part of Scott’s live mastery is that he’s put in the miles. He toured early on with some of the biggest and best, including Lamar, Chance the Rapper, The Weeknd and Rihanna, among others, demonstrating his live performance prowess and ability to command the stage. 
“I put him out with Young Thug and Metro Boomin years ago on a club tour,” Lewis recalls. “He worked hard, he had a connection with his fans, he had a massive social media following, even in the early days. And he worked for it, but by the end of the tour it was evident that he was going to be a superstar.”
Indeed, Scott’s grosses on the “Astroworld” trek reflect that work ethic. According to Pollstar Boxoffice reports, the tour’s largest hauls were two-night stands at Madison Square Garden (Nov. 27-28) and the Forum (Dec. 19-20), which grossed $2.9 million and $2.5 million, respectively. In fact, he has sold out MSG three times in the last six months, including a March 2 date with a greater ticket price range that yielded $2.1 million, Scott’s highest single-night gross yet.
Interestingly, while Scott’s 438,982 tickets sold in Q1 topped Pollstar‘s chart, his $32.1 million gross was only third-highest. That’s because, at a reasonable $73 a ticket (much like Ed Sheeran’s “Divide Tour”), Scott’s average ticket price was significantly lower than many other top Q1 earners, including Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band ($114), Justin Timberlake ($130), Metallica ($121), Elton John ($129.5), Fleetwood Mac ($143) and Cher ($115). His average ticket price was, however, roughly on par with Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Mumford & Sons.
It also never hurts to have an exhilarating live production, something Scott knows well. His 2015 “Rodeo Tour” featured large video screens, LED signage and strobes; by the time Scott went on his 2017 “Birds Eye View Tour,” he was performing atop an animatronic bird – something one might have thought would be tough to beat.
“The Astroworld show itself is tremendous,” Wavra explains. “He flies in a roller coaster, two roller coasters, it’s a really big, big show. He took an ambitious idea, put it to paper and delivered it to the fans – and they respond to it.” This includes pyrotechnics, putting his fans on said roller coasters and a slew of unpredictable cameos by the likes of Lamar, Drake, Nas and more.
In addition to Lewis and Wavra, Scott has assembled an A-team to take him to the top of the touring heap. “Travis has got a super smart team around him,” Wavra says. “When you talk about David Stromberg, Irving Azoff  and Damien Smith on the management side, you have some of the best in the business. Cara Lewis is one of the smartest agents on the planet. She’s carved out a piece of the business Part of Scott’s live mastery is that he’s put in the miles. He toured early on with some of the biggest and best, including Lamar, Chance the Rapper, The Weeknd and Rihanna, among others, demonstrating his live performance prowess and ability to command the stage. 

Portrait of Travis Scott by  David LaChapelle
Photo by David LaChapelle / Courtesy PMK
– Portrait of Travis Scott by David LaChapelle
who designed the artwork for the rapper
“Yes, [Kinnersley] is amazing,” Lewis adds, “and believe me, there were challenges with these roller coasters, and he made it work. And [tour manager] Zack McGuinness has done a great job. And Brad Wavra has been phenomenal to work with, he’s a passionate believer and so dedicated.”
Originally set for 26 dates, the “Astroworld” tour began in Baltimore at Royal Farms Arena on Nov. 8, 2018, and was punctuated by the ambitious Astroworld Festival in Scott’s native Houston on Nov. 17. 
“That was a whole other level,” Wavra says of the festival. “Oh my god, that was a level of risk and reward that was just sensational, unbelievable, stupendous. We started out with a small idea for him to headline his own festival, curate his own talent lineup. We thought we were going to go do it in a 15-to-20,000-seat site. We ended up selling over 40,000 tickets.” 
Sascha Stone Guttfreund and ScoreMore Shows, which produces Texan concerts and festivals such as JMBLYA, Neon Desert and Mala Luna, were brought in for the event, which was produced by Live Nation. Held at NRG Park, the festival included an immersive Astrodome experience, Houston eats (Shipley’s Donuts and Frenchy’s Chicken), a Screwed Up Records & Tapes store and, last but not least, performances by major acts including Post Malone, Lil Wayne and Rae Sremmurd as well as Houston hometown heroes such as Bun B, Paul Wall, Slim Thug and Lil Flip. 
“The festival was really amazing,” Lewis says. “We put it up on sale and didn’t announce talent until the day before. Travis got to Astroworld and it was filled with fun and rides – it was just like going to an amusement park.” 
Let’s Put On a Show!
Gary Miller / Getty Images
– Let’s Put On a Show!
! The entrance to Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival at Houston’s NRG Park in which the artist and his team re-created an amusement park.
The “Astroworld” trek was so successful that five days before the first leg’s Dec. 22 conclusion, Scott’s team announced a second. “The frenzy around the shows and the way these tickets were selling we had to put up a second leg,” Lewis says. “What was unique was that we had played some of the markets the first time and came back. We played two additional dates in New York, we played another Chicago, another Toronto, another Atlanta and another D.C. You could judge the demand by how quickly the tickets sold and know what you had out there.” 
The tour’s 27-date second leg began at Vancouver, B.C.’s Rogers Arena on Jan. 25, concluded at Tulsa, Okla.’s BOK Center on March 26 and, along the way, stopped for Scott to appear at the Super Bowl LIII halftime show.
“Most artists would do a second leg in the summer,” Lewis says. “I don’t agree with that philosophy. I think if the demand is there, do it. 
In the summer, you might be in another stage of your career – you might be in the studio, you might be doing festivals, you might be doing Europe, whatever. Strategically, this was what made sense for Travis.” 
Up next, Scott will play American festivals including Firefly, Hangout, Boston Calling, Rolling Loud, Something In The Water and JMBLYA, before heading overseas for European festivals including Lollapalooza Stockholm, Holland’s Woo Hah! and Denmark’s Roskilde.
The big question now is what lies ahead for Scott after selling multiple arenas multiple times. “He did 80,000 in attendance in the New York area,” says Lewis. When asked about the possibility of stadium shows, she says that “down the line there absolutely will be.”
Wavra concurs. “You’d have to be selective,” he says. “You’d have to figure out where you could go for a stadium, but could he sell out a stadium in L.A.? No question about it. Could he sell out New York? Yes. Boston? Yes. He sold an extraordinary amount of tickets and played an extraordinary amount of shows at an unusual time period. The results speak for themselves.”