Reneé Rapp’s Debut Tour Has Sold More Than 100,000 Tickets Already

When Reneé Rapp’s manager and talent agent began routing the singer-actress’ debut 2023 tour, they opted to break a key rule in the touring business – always play the smaller venues before playing the larger venues.

It’s a rule WME agent Ben Totis normally agreed with, and yet, Totis and Rapp’s manager Adam Mersel also believed Rapp had developed a special connection with fans as one of four stars on Mindy Kaling’s hit HBO series The Sex Lives of College Girls playing Leighton, an au-pair raised queer sorority princess attending a fictional liberal arts college in Vermont. The popular show created a huge audience for Rapp, especially with Gen Z adult females, and served as a perfect segue for Rapp’s pursuit of a music career. In July, Rapp confirmed she was leaving the show as it entered its third season.

“Original music and pop music has always been her passion,” Mersel said. “Now’s she getting back into the studio, making music and really taking a swing at it.”

While her popularity and name recognition are certainly a major advantage in live touring, the adage in the industry has long been that all artists — even high-profile new artists like Olivia Rodrigo in 2021 and in 2018 — should build their touring business slowly and deliberately, making sure the artist is ready and the early audiences are invested.

“One of the age-old rules of this business is don’t skip steps,” booking agent veteran Tom Windish with Wasserman Music told Billboard last month. Windish, who counts Eilish, Lorde and Alt-J as clients explains “if you sold 500 tickets the last time, maybe you’ll try to sell 1,000 this time. You’re not just bumping up to 2,000 because you have this data that’s indicating there might be more [demand].”

Rapp is not following that strategy. The North Carolina native put tickets on sale for the LA Greek Theatre (5,900 capacity) on Sept. 30 and the Anthem in Washington DC (6,000 capacity) on Oct. 27 two months before she had even released her debut record Snow Angel on Aug. 18 on Interscope.

As Totis and Mersel had hoped, both shows quickly sold out. She quickly sold out the famed Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, the Mission Ballroom in Denver and the Roadrunner in Boston (despite penning a breakup song on her new album called “I Hate Boston”). In total, Rapp has sold out 22 of the 30 North America dates on her tour, which begins Sept. 15 at the Bayou Music Center in Houston.

Mersel and Totis said there were plenty of reasons to think Rapp could be the exception to the “no skipping steps” rule. While the 23-year-old was new to the record and touring business, she had been involved in musical theater from an early age – and won best actress at the 2018 National High School Musical Theatre Awards (the Jimmy Awards).

“She grew up singing in North Carolina and that is always what she wanted to do with her life,” Mersel explains. “Musical theater sort of was by accident. She was running around really trying to hustle and make it, especially through high school.”

In December, Rapp released her EP and booked some teaser shows including the Troubador in LA and Le Poisson Rouge in New York “just to get her out there in front of her fans and get her on stage for the first time,” Totis explained.

“They were all just supposed to be small shows, but in New York we had 10,000 people sign up for waitlist because the tickets went so quickly,” Totis said, leading her team to add two more New York shows that same month.

Rapp is planning a four-show “take over” in New York starting Nov. 3 – playing two Terminal Five dates along with Brooklyn’s Avante Gardner and Kings Theater. After New York she heads to Europe where she has sold out five of 15 booked shows in the UK, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium before closing out her tour with back-to-back sold out shows March 1 at the famed Hammersmith Apollo in London and a March 4 show at 3Olympia in Dublin.

As for Snow Angel, it debuted at an impressive No. 10 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, the biggest U.S. sales debut for a debut female pop album in 2023

“The music’s great and she’s extremely talented. I don’t think anyone is concerned about her being comfortable on stage knowing where she came from,” Totis said.

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