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Shake It Off: Despite Negative Press, Taylor Swift's Reputation Tour Could Be One of the Biggest of All Time

6 Things We Want to See on Justin Timberlake's 'Man of the Woods' Album

Ed Sheeran Covers Eric Clapton's 'Layla' & Sings 'Perfect' on Jools Holland's 25th Annual Hootenanny

TaylorShake It Off: Despite Negative Press, Taylor Swift's Reputation Tour Could Be One of the Biggest of All Time

Billboard.com

Ticket sales could approach the half-billion dollar range as slower, steadier sales with higher returns replace sellouts as the barometer for success

Taylor Swift is on track to chart one of the highest-grossing tours of all time, with projections that she could sell $450 million worth of tickets on her Reputation stadium tour which kicks off this summer.

Swift is using a strategy deployed by Jay-Z and bands like The Rolling Stones -- price tickets high and have seats available on the primary market up until the day of show. That means few, if any, early sellouts but huge revenues, as tickets, especially premium seats, are marked up much higher than previous tours. While several recent stories have warned of poor ticket sales -- including a New York Post article this morning -- those close to Swift say the “Look What You Made Me Do” singer sold $180 million worth of tickets in the first seven days of sales -- that’s four days of sales through the Verified Fan platform and three days of sales to the general public that began Dec. 13. Swift is planning to add eight more shows to the North American leg of her tour for a total of 41 shows, with double, and in some cases triple, visits to major cities.

In markets like Los Angeles, Swift has sold 110,000 tickets for her May 18 and 19 concerts at the Rose Bowl, an increase of 36 percent over her 2015 visit, where she performed six shows at Staples Center for 81,000 fans. Thousands of tickets for both Rose Bowl concerts are still available and promoter Louis Messina told Billboard in December he was confident every show on the tour would sell out over the next five months. (The Reputation Tour kicks off May 8 in Glendale, Arizona.)

Sources now tell Billboard each show on the tour is forecast to sell between $7.5 million and $10 million worth of tickets. Couple that with six shows in Europe and five shows in Australia and New Zealand, and Swift is looking at earning anywhere between $390 million and $510 million for the Reputation Tour, putting her on track to have one of the top-grossing tours of all time based on Billboard Boxscores. (A request for comment from representatives for Swift and promoter AEG was not returned as of press time.)

Swift is looking at a huge earnout despite not having sold out a single show on her tour, a stark contrast from her 1989 Tour in 2015 which sold out in seconds. Swift watched as tickets were rapidly bought up by scalpers and bots and then resold on secondary sites like StubHub at high markups, sometimes three, four or five times face value. Hoping to capture more of the revenue for her Reputation Tour, Swift sold her tickets at much higher prices than in previous years, fetching upwards of $500 for floor seats, $800 for pit passes and $1,500 for VIP tickets.

The idea is to charge what people end up eventually paying for the ticket on the secondary market, capturing the revenue for the artist and making it more difficult for scalpers to flip the tickets on the secondary. While the practice does shift spending toward the artist, several ticketing professionals say they are concerned about how Swift’s high ticket prices will affect consumers.

At Houston's NRG Stadium, where Swift plays Sept. 29, the cheapest tickets are $160 apiece, with some seats listed high up in the rafters selling for $230, meaning a young fan would have to pay between $400-$500 for a pair of tickets to her show.

"Whenever I see an upper deck ticket priced above $200 for a football stadium tour I have a hard time imagining that fan will leave the show thinking they got their money’s worth,” says Patrick Ryan, co-founder of ticketing and distribution company Eventellect. "Regardless of whether they bought that ticket on the primary or secondary market, $200 is a lot to spend on a seat literally in the rafters.”

While Ryan says he believes it is "good that the artist is taking a harder look at the ticket prices and isn’t focused on getting an immediate sellout,” he said the consequences of high ticket prices could mean fans "go to fewer sporting events and other concerts during that same time frame.”

"Overall, it's good and smart for Taylor to price her tickets higher,” he says, "but it could cannibalize other games or shows, because for most consumers, they don’t have an endless budget.”

There’s also a larger question about whether the days of instant tour sellouts are gone, replaced by a “slow ticketing” model where platforms like Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan allow only a few fans to purchase tickets at a time. After running a month-long promotion for Taylor Swift Tix where fans were encouraged to buy her albums and merchandise in order to “boost” their chances of getting a good ticket, Swift began selling a small number of tickets to fans on Dec. 5, only allowing three people at a time into the purchase queue to complete transactions.

As each day of the Verified Fan presale passed, more buyers were allowed into the sales queue -- the idea was to weed out scalpers who often overwhelm an onsale with ticketing bots and automated programs that allow them to buy up tickets faster than fans. What Ticketmaster wants to avoid is having all the tickets sell out in seconds and then have fans turn to sites like StubHub for available tickets.

"We'd like to sell the last ticket to her concert when she takes the stage each night," David Marcus, executive vp and head of music at Ticketmaster, told Billboard last month. "We're not trying to sell all of her tickets in one minute; we're trying to figure out how to sell tickets in a more modern way.”

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6 Things We Want to See on Justin Timberlake's 'Man of the Woods' Album

Billboard.com

Justin Timberlake fans are rejoicing Tuesday (Jan. 2), as the 36-year-old singer just announced that his next studio album, Man of the Woods, is arriving just one month later on Feb. 2.

More than four years since Timberlake released his previous LP, The 20/20 Experience - 2 of 2, in September 2013 and a number of teases with studio pictures over that span of time, the “Can’t Stop the Feeling” singer has certainly made fans eager to hear what he has in store for 2018. And with a rustic album trailer and title that feels much different than what Timberlake has put out in the past, it’s easy to get caught up in wondering what the heck Man of the Woods will be like.

As we await the arrival of the first track on Friday and the rest of the album on Feb. 4, just two days before Timberlake’s Super Bowl LII halftime performance, we put together a wish list of what we’d like to see from the superstar’s fifth record.

As soon as new album speculation began, Pharrell Williams was rumored to be part of Timberlake’s next project -- which would mark the first time Pharrell has worked on a JT album since producing half of his 2002 solo debut Justified with The Neptunes. And as the album trailer reveals, Pharrell was heavily involved with Timberlake in the studio, declaring one track a “smash” in the clip. Considering Timberlake has featured prominent vocals from previous album producer Timbaland on several tracks, it wouldn’t be asking too much of him to get a full-on vocal feature from Mr. Williams on Man of the Woods, right? The two collaborated on Pharrell's 2014 album G I R L and other non-JT projects previously, and there's that brief intro to "Senorita," but we want more!

Timberlake went back to his Tennessee roots on the 2015 CMAs when he took the stage with pal Chris Stapleton to sing a mash-up of their songs “Tennessee Whiskey” and “Drink You Away” -- which subsequently saw Timberlake’s 20/20 track getting country radio play after the buzzy performance. But while “Drink You Away” is a jam, it definitely leans more pop than country. With Timberlake promising that Man of the Woods is heavily influenced by his upbringing in small-town Tennessee, we would hope that he swings a little more toward Stapleton’s sound than another semi-country tune.

Timberlake mentions that his son was one of the biggest influences for Man of the Woods. We can imagine that means we’ll hear a lot of fatherly commentary in the album's lyrics, and potentially a softer sound for a handful of the tracks -- but what we’d really love is to hear little Silas’ voice, especially because we haven’t seen much of his face yet. Hey, Beyoncé has done it with Blue Ivy, so why not have her male pop counterpart do the same with his first-born?

Hours after unveiling the nature-filled trailer that teases the Pharrell-deemed “earthy” album, Timberlake posted a split image of himself half in a suit and half in jeans and a flannel. It could very well be the cover of the album, with Man of the Woods scribbled below the picture, but Timberlake didn’t reveal the exact story behind the image other than that it was shot by Ryan McGinley Studios. After seeing the visuals in the video teaser, though, we’re hoping this isn’t the last we see of Timberlake being one with nature.

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Ed Sheeran Covers Eric Clapton's 'Layla' & Sings 'Perfect' on Jools Holland's 25th Annual Hootenanny

Billboard.com

Before ending the year cozy on a couch, Ed Sheeran took his guitar to Jools Holland's 25th annual Hootenanny for a performance of his Billboard Hot 100-topping hit "Perfect" and an Eric Clapton cover.

The Hollands special is a UK New Year’s Eve tradition, with former guests including Adele, Kylie Minogue, and Jessie J. Sheeran’s performance this past Sunday (Dec. 31) was not his first time on the show, as he performed a masterful cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Master Blaster” to ring in the new year in 2014, as well as a performance in 2015.

His performance this year included another cover, this time of Clapton's 1971 jam “Layla" -- which was kept secret until the night of the show, with the description simply alluding to a cover of a classic rock song. However, longtime Sheeran fans might not have been shocked by his choice, as Sheeran has openly credited Clapton as one of his biggest musical idols, and one of the main reasons he started playing guitar. The two have worked together in the past, each singing on one another’s albums under the same pseudonym “Angelo Mysterioso.”

Sheeran’s pop rendition of a classic rock cover was slotted next to an equally unique lineup of 11 other guests, including Jessie Ware, Beth Ditto, and Soul II Soul. Holland’s own Rhythm and Blues Orchestra also took in the action, playing a variety of add-on instrumentals and backings.

The singer-songwriter's latest appearance on Hootenanny continued the tradition of the UK’s greats giving their best for Holland. You can check out his take on the Clapton classic, as well as his "Perfect" performance on Billboard.com.

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