Three-hour stadium wide concerts may become the new normal for our most iconic pop artists, per the latest Billboard Pop Shop podcast episode.
With the recent start of Beyonce’s global Renaissance Tour, Billboard executives Keith Caulfield and Katie Atkinson drew comparisons between the length of her setlist and Taylor Swift’s Eras. “It’s about a three hour concert, which our girl Taylor Swift is currently out there doing a three hour, fifteen minute concert. So pop fans are just getting fed right now, basically.” And fans are indeed eating it up. Beyonce’s Renaissance Tour features thirty seven songs, including pieces from every album, song covers, and even some Destiny’s Child throwbacks and more. Taylor’s Eras Tour is precisely a tour throughout her development as an artist, with an unbelievable forty-four songs.
“For a pop show, it’s extraordinary,” host Keith said about their vast setlists. “Because it's not Pearl Jam playing a marathon show or the Grateful Dead. Like that’s sort of normal and expected, rock fans expect a length show, especially with those kinds of artists… Most pop shows are like, an hour-and-a-half to two hours tops. That’s just what it is.”
Billboard’s touring director, Dave Brooks, completely agreed that the concert scene was changing, and seemed to be in favor of the new concert model. “The old adage was, ‘Leave your fans wanting more’ and it seems like today’s trend is to give them everything they got,” Brooks told the podcasters. “People pay a lot of money for these concerts and it’s good to see the artist investing it back into the experience.”
“The ticket prices keep creeping up, and Beyonce and Taylor are like, ‘We’re gonna meet you, we’re not gonna leave you thinking you didn’t get the show that you paid for’” Katie added. She also considered the effect of COVID, as both artists were touring for the first time in a post-pandemic world. She proposed that the artists and teams, “were probably thinking on this grand scale that they never thought of before, just in case that was ripped out from underneath them.” Thus, perhaps the 3 hour stadium tour phenomenon is in response to worries for the live music industry. And perhaps it’s simply a math problem when considering “a stadium versus five arena shows.”
Regardless of why, both hosts agreed that the power of both Taylor and Beyonce will set a new standard. The duo predicted that if artists on the same “pop star god-tier” don’t perform similarly, fans may end up comparing the tours, and ultimately, be disappointed. “They know that they are superstars of another caliber, and they are doing a tour of another caliber” Katie concluded.