Miley Cyrus' success: A tale of the tickets

Miley Cyrus performs at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY
Kevin Mazur | WireImage | Getty Images
Miley Cyrus performs at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY

Amid the critics who lambast her, the mothers who lament her, and those who praise her marketing opportunism, you may be having a hard time assessing the true impact of Miley Cyrus' MTV Video Music Awards performance.

The marketing opportunists have proclaimed her foam finger the savviest in recent music memory, and speculated about the increase in sales it will drive for her new her new album due out in October. The naysayers claim that she is just regurgitating sexual-discovery tropes that Madonna, Lady Gaga, and other, more talented, female artists have exploited over the years.

Mothers, of course, are calling for the incineration of all teddy bears larger than two feet tall, and making it clear that the quick route to anything is always the bad route.

While we'll have to wait another month to see about album sales, the Miley Cyrus ticket market is open for trading, and may provide a glimpse into economic value of her VMA performance.

While she is not touring, Cyrus is one of the headline acts at the iHeartRadio music festival on Sept. 21. The festival features the biggest names in music, across almost all genres, including Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Keith Urban, Bruno Mars, and Tim McGraw. Past years have featured Jay-Z, Coldplay, and Green Day.

Hosted at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, this is the third annual festival, put on by radio behemoth Clear Channel. In it's short lifespan, iHeart has turned into perhaps the biggest music mega-event in a world full of them. iHeart tickets on the secondary market start at $500 for each night. As a point of comparison, Lollapalooza—the grandfather of music mega events—had an average price of $333 for a three-day pass. Individual day passes were going for about $200.

The mere fact, then, that Cryus is in the company of such greats at the pre-eminent music festival of the year must mean that her strategy is, well, 't'working'? The sad truth for Cyrus is that she won't be anywhere near JT, Sir Paul, or Keith Urban. Miley is headlining a show from 10 a.m.–4 p.m. in "The Lot" on the Las Vegas Strip. The Lot is 15 acres of iHeart festivities that will take place on Saturday and is the kiddie table to the main stage.

The only way to get tickets for The Lot or the main stage for iHeart is through the secondary market. The two main shows sold out in an instant and at the $500 get-in price on the secondary market, you'll be paying 650 percent above face price. If you want to see what tricks Miley pulls out of her spandex, the secondary market is also a must. It's not a must because it is sold out, but because the secondary market for The Lot tickets are about 50 percent below face value. For one ticket to the main events, you could get 25 tickets to see Myley Cyrus and the six or seven other acts that will follow her.

You could also just wait until she earns her way onto the big stage. If that never happens, you'll always have the VMAs, and of course "Hanna Montana, the Movie" to remember her by.

In case you missed it, the Walt Disney film tells of how Hannah Montana's popularity begins to take over Miley Stewart's life. As you may know, Hanna Montana is Miley Stewart's alter ego. In the movie, Miley's father, played by Miley Cyrus' actual father, Billy Ray Cyrus, takes her back to her hometown of Crowley Corners, Tenn., to get some perspective on her out-of-control rock star life. Except for the fact that her father has not taken her home to Nashville, the Miley VMA story may be a case of life imitating art.

"How many times have we seen this play out in pop music," Cyrus said in an interview three days after the VMAs. "Madonna's done it, Britney's done it." In the interview, she referenced making history several times, and her VMA performance was certainly that. Whether it was the first chapter of an adult artist or the last chapter of a Disney flameout remains to be seen.

—Jesse Lawrence is founder and CEO of, an event ticket search engine. Jesse started his career as a writer covering the Silicon Alley and now covers the event and ticket market.