Nicki Minaj’s announcement Tuesday she was rescheduling the North American leg of her NICKIHNDRXX Tour without co-headliner Future immediately prompted speculation about her ticket sales. While Minaj blamed a shortage of rehearsal time, the New York Post reported a source from Live Nation claiming the tour had “the most disappointing ticket sales of the year for any artist.” (Billboard reached out to reps for Live Nation and Minaj for comment, but neither responded).
While sources tell Billboard Minaj’s ticket sales were soft for the tour — which had been set to launch in Baltimore on Sept. 21 — it’s unlikely a promoter would postpone an arena tour no matter how weak the sales, due in part to the sky-high costs of rescheduling in the increasingly crowded concert market.
Nicki Minaj peforms at the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards on Aug. 20, 2018 in New York City.
Although rescheduling the tour for May could help boost ticket sales and give Minaj more time to make deals with third-party distributors to better promote the tour, there is also plenty of risk in pushing the dates back that could make the ticket sales situation even worse.
For one thing, it’s safe to assume that some fans will cancel their tickets and ask for refunds because they can’t attend the new dates or because Future is no longer a co-headliner.
Also, by moving the dates back, Minaj, Live Nation and the venues will incur additional costs. The tour has now forfeited deposits and wasted advertising money, for example.
Another reason promoters are loathe to postpone due to poor sales: sports. Minaj is playing arenas that are home to professional hockey and basketball teams. While fall is the start of the season for both sports, those games are easy for touring shows to work around since team schedules are locked in far in advance. But May is the middle of playoff season and many buildings don’t yet know their availability. It’s not uncommon for a building to simply black out an arena’s booking calendar for April, May and the beginning of June if they think their team is going to make a deep playoff run.
Take the new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas as an example: Few at the facility thought the first-year Golden Knights hockey team would make history and go all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals. Building executives booked two major award shows during the spring — the Billboard Music Awards and the Academy of Country Music Awards — prematurely counting out the the playoffs. But, against all odds, the team kept winning and both award shows had to be moved across the street to the older, but much more available MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Besides playoffs, Minaj faces another challenge to her tour in the spring — festivals. Sure, she has some tough competition right now going up against tours by Drake and Migos, Rae Sremmurd and Jay-Z and Beyonce’s On The Run II, but pushing the dates to May means she will likely go on sale at the same time as Coachella and other late spring and early summer fests. Some of those likely booked Future on their lineup, meaning Minaj could be going up against her own former tour co-headliner.
Whatever upside there might be to pushing the dates back, there is far more downside. The more likely explanation is the one Minaj is giving: She spent the last month wrapping her record, leaving her no time to rehearse for a tour that was supposed to start in a month.
“This is all happening because I pushed my album back two months,” Minaj said in a video post Tuesday, referencing her fourth studio album, Queen, which she released last week, sparking a losing battle for No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart with Travis Scott’s Astroworld.
“I just finished writing and recording literally hours before the album came out,” Minaj continued in her video, “so now I just simply don’t have the time to rehearse and be on the road in time to give you guys the level of show I need to give.”
This article originally appeared at Billboard.