Justin Bieber's believe tour sells out 2012

By now you’ve heard that Justin Bieber sold out two performances at Madison Square Garden in a whopping 30 seconds for his Believe Tour. With equal speed, Bieber sold out his entire forty North American arena tour in one hour! Previously, it took him 22 minutes to sell out the venue. Bieber and his manager, Scooter Braun, took to Twitter to thank fans for the record numbers. Seconds after the announcement, every media outlet ran the tagline “fastest sell out” (example) performance at Madison Square Garden/tour ever! But wait a minute, what were the records before?

Madison Square Garden

The third busiest arena in the world, behind M.E.N. Arean in Manchester and 02 Arena in London (in terms of ticket sales), holds a maximum of approximately 21,000 spectators. In 1968, Madison Square Garden was built on top Pennsylvania Railroad station. Since 1968, here are some notable numbers to help compare Bieber’s accomplishment.

  • Taylor Swift held (until this weekend) the fastest selling concert performance at Madison Square Garden for a record of 60 seconds in 2009 (source)
  • The Who sold out four performances at the venue in 1978 in a matter of hours per one radio broadcast announcement (source)
  • Led Zepplin sold out Madison Square Garden for six nights in June 1977. They did not advertise at all. Reportedly, enough ticket requests were received to sell out an additional two nights (source)
  • Bruce Springsteen sold out a then-record 10-night stand at the Garden in June and July 2000 (source)
  • Jay-Z and Mary J. Blige sold out Madison Square twice, each in less than two minutes, before adding a third date in 2008 (source)

Other Fast Selling Tours

Justin Bieber sold out forty arenas in one hour. Given that most arenas hold approximately 20,000 fans that means he sold almost 800,000 tickets. Here’s some other ticket sale numbers to munch on.

  • U2’s 360 Tour is consider the most successful tour to date. Every date sold out within minutes of tickets being available (source) and in total the band sold over 7.2 million tickets
  • Michael Jackson previously held the record for the most successful tour after selling 360,000 tickets in one day for  30 performances at 02 Arena that later ballooned to a 50 performances (source)
  • Take That, the UK boy band sensation, sold 600,000 tickets in five hours in 2008 (source)

Notable Festival Sell Outs

Considering that Justin Bieber is just one artist, imagine the sales of some of the most popular festivals.

  • Coachella 2012 sold out in three hours (source). The two week, three day festival reported had approximately 495,000 attendees during that time (source).
  • Splendor in the Grass, an Australian music festival, recently announced it sold out in 43 minutes (source). Its capacity is 30,000

So…

This tour definitely adds Justin Bieber to the books of notable tour/ticket sales achievements. The short answer is you don’t really know if this is the fastest selling tour. Several factors including ticketing technology, internet speed, and objective reporting (often the band said “we set the record”) make it difficult to make any real conclusions. Not to mention, how many of those tickets were bought for second hand sale? Now, just imagine if The Beatles sold tickets during the internet era…

This doesn’t even begin to tackle the question…did they even sell out?