It seems like an awful lot of people are willing to sit through a fashion show to hear Kanye West’s latest record. But while the pop superstar’s plan to live-stream the debut of his album and the new season of his fashion line might seem like an impossible extravagance, the number of screens it’s appearing on is fairly typical for a concert shown in movie theaters.
And make no mistake: The lion’s share of people who have bought tickets to Thursday’s event are there for the music.
Less than a year after West premiered his second fashion collection, Yeezy Season 2, at movie theaters in 36 cities around the world, the number of cities with theaters showing Yeezy Season 3 will be more than 20 times greater. The show, which will be broadcast live from Madison Square Garden in New York at 4 p.m. EST, will be seen on nearly 800 screens across 26 countries; in the United States, it will be shown on nearly 400 screens in 331 cities.
While those numbers represent an enormous leap from last year’s Yeezy debut, they are actually fairly modest for similar events, and right in line with what’s considered a solid showing for Fathom Events, the company distributing West’s show in American theaters. According to the company’s CEO, John Rubey, the typical Fathom event appears on 300 to 500 screens across the United States.
Other events, like performances of the Metropolitan Opera in New York, reliably appear on a much larger share of Fathom’s 1,100 screens. In fact, the Met streamed to 2,000 theaters across 69 countries during its 2014-15 season.
Yeezy Season 3 is slightly different in that it is considered a private event that’s being presented by a third party, BY Experience; Fathom is acting merely as a distributor of that event, and is not marketing the show. It's also a show that was announced with relatively little advance notice, with word first surfacing in late January.
WE’RE RELEASING MORE TICKETS FOR TODAYS SHOW AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN… https://t.co/BwvStxRTEC
— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) February 11, 2016
In addition to the new duds and a performance by the artist Vanessa Beecroft, West's fans will also be treated to a first listen to “The Life of Pablo,” a hotly anticipated album whose title and tracklist the artist finalized just Wednesday. Tidal subscribers will also be able to stream the show live.
The show continues West’s tradition of pushing the envelope to promote his releases. In 2013, video projections promoting “Yeezus” lit up the sides of buildings in cities all over the world. Fans in the New York area with quick reflexes were able to get new tickets as recently as Thursday morning.
What kind of effect this has on West’s bottom line remains to be seen. Neither West, BY Experience nor Fathom Events would comment on ticket sales. It is also hard to say how much of an early boost Thursday’s show will give “The Life of Pablo” on the Billboard charts. At a number of U.S. theaters, it was possible for fans to buy tickets that included download codes for “The Life of Pablo,” but according to Billboard, it will not count those sales until fans redeem their download codes at a music retailer like iTunes or Tidal.
A report in HITS Daily Double put early sales estimates for “The Life of Pablo” at about 275,000 copies for its first week, a number that's far below the first-week sales of most of West’s earlier records.