Inside The 3Q Numbers

Pollstar continued the expansion of our quarterly Worldwide Ticket Sales Charts as we reached the close of the third quarter. The charts rank the Top 100 Artists by cumulative unit ticket sales along with separate charts broken down by venue types for Arenas, Theatres, Clubs and Amphitheatres.

We have also debuted a new Top 50 Outdoor Stadium / Festival Site chart.

There have been some significant changes to the Top 100 Promoters chart to better reflect current market activity. Companies like Clear Channel Entertainment now operate under separate local brands. The individual units all have their own chart listings while the parent company is listed with an aggregated total. Clear Channel, for instance, is listed under its new temporary name of CCE Spinco. The same goes for AEG, HoB and other multi-unit operations, and each is footnoted accordingly.

In looking at the story behind the numbers, it becomes apparent that business volume continues to be down from last year’s levels. However, the operating environment is certainly better this year and there is little doubt that shows are coming much closer to sales projections than they were in 2004.

In analyzing the more than $2 billion in detailed show information already in our 2005 database, Pollstar projects total industry sales volume is down about $250 million or 11 percent compared to the same period last year.

In terms of unit ticket sales, the drop appears to be about 3.6 million or 7 percent. It all points to an improvement since our Mid-Year Business Analysis showed a dip of more than 17 percent.

The silver lining is that the volume for the final quarter of the year will be extremely strong. Tour dates by U2, Paul McCartney, Neil Diamond, Bruce Springsteen, Aerosmith and a host of holiday tours mean plenty of action in the marketplace.

And then there is the matter of the large chunk of missing data for The Rolling Stones. No information on the Stones tour has been reported by Clear Channel’s Touring division. All requests were referred to tour promoter Michael Cohl, who did not respond to inquiries.

The Rolling Stones and the business they represent are not reflected in our 3Q charts because the charts are built entirely on hard information reported to Pollstar. For our Year End charts, we will include an estimate for the Stones tour if the actual data does not get reported.

The Stones are not selling out everywhere they go but their business is still very impressive despite a huge jump in ticket prices. One industry observer said the only plausible reason why the band might not want the data reported is to avoid focusing on its cost of admission.

When the Stones last toured America in 2002, their average ticket price was about $119. From our preliminary research, it appears that the average ticket prices for this year’s Stones outing may well be in the vicinity of a record $175.

– Gary Bongiovanni