North American Tour Grosses Decline

July 26, 2010

The top 100 popular music tours in North America saw annual declines in total gross, total ticket sales and average ticket price during the first half of 2010, according to [pdf] PollStar.

Total Gross Down 17%
The total gross earned by the top 100 North American tours during the first half of 2010 was $965.5 million USD, a reduction of $196.8 million USD, or 17%, from the same period in 2009. There has not been a lower first-half combined gross among the top 100 North American tours since 2005 ($730.9 million USD).

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The average per-show gross among the top 100 North American touring acts dropped 14.4%, from more than $494,000 USD to $422,000 USD.

Total Tickets Drop 12%
As would be expected considering the significant decline in total gross, the total tickets sold for the top 100 North American tours in the first half of 2010 also dropped considerably compared to the first half of 2009. North American concertgoers purchased 15.9 million, down about 12% from 18 million on a year-over-year basis. This is also the worst industry performance since 2005 (14.5 million tickets sold).

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In the first half of 2009, the top 100 North American tours sold an average of 7,639 tickets. This declined 9% to an average of 6,951 tickets per show in the first half of 2010.

Ticket Prices Fall 6%
The average face-value ticket price for the top 100 North American tours during the first half of 2010 was $60.77 USD, down 6% from a record average of $64.61 during the equivalent period in 2009. Considering the general state of the economy, Pollstar predicts a continued drop in average face value ticket price during the second half of 2010.

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Pollstar cites economic malaise in the US market and avoidance of the Mexico market by many major recording artists as contributing to the decline in North American touring results so far this year. Canada is performing better than the US or Mexico, according to Pollstar, with the Toronto market doing especially well.

MSG Leading North American Venue
Madison Square Garden in New York City was the best concert venue in North America during the first half of 2010, hosting eight of the 100 highest-grossing concert events. Following were the Hollywood Bowl and Staples Center in Los Angeles and Foro Sol and Auditorlo Nacionalin Mexico City (each with four of the top-grossing events), and Air Canada Centre in Toronto and Verizon Center in Washington, DC (each with three of the top-grossing events).

AEG Bests Live Nation
For the first time, concert promoter AEG Live was the top North American concert promoter during the first half of 2010, producing 46 of the top 100 concert events. Larger rival Live Nation followed with 27 of the top-grossing concerts. AEG Live’s highest-grossing tour was Bon Jovi, was Live Nation’s was Elton John/Billy Joel.

Country, Classics Dominate Top 10 Music Performers
Although contemporary pop singer Celine Dion is the most popular musical performer among all US adults, country performers and classic performers who are deceased or no longer actively performing dominated a recent Harris Poll.

The top two performers among all US adults, Celine Dion and U2, are both currently active and not in the country genre. However, deceased singer Elvis Presley (who crossed multiple genres) and 1960s rock group The Beatles tied for the third spot. Country performer Tim McGraw was ranked number five, and contemporary pop singer Lady Gaga came in at number six.

The remainder of the top 10 consisted of country performers and a deceased vocalist often considered the best popular singer of all time. Country performers George Strait and Rascal Flatts were ranked numbers seven and eight, respectively. Late crooner Frank Sinatra, whose career spanned the decades from the 1930s to the 1990s, tied country singer Alan Jackson for the ninth spot.

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