Rolling Stones Lead Tours

Concert tours by the Rolling Stones, Barbra Streisand and country duo Tim McGraw and Faith Hill were among the top-grossing tours in North America in 2006, helping drive ticket revenue to a record $3.6 billion (euro2.7 billion), according to Pollstar, the industry trade magazine.

The figure, released Thursday, represents a 16 percent increase over 2005, when North American concert ticket sales totaled $3.1 billion (euro2.4 billion), said Gary Bongiovanni, Pollstar’s editor-in-chief.

Concert receipts for the year’s top 100 tours totaled $2.3 billion (euro1.8 billion), up 12.6 percent from last year.

“Not only did we set a record for gross revenues, but we did it by selling more tickets rather than more expensive tickets,” Bongiovanni said.

Fans bought 37.9 million tickets to the top 100 concert tours, compared with 36.3 million in 2005, according to Pollstar.

The average ticket price for those tours was $61.45 (euro47), up 8 percent over last year’s average of $56.88 (euro43), Bongiovanni said.

The average ticket price increase was similar to the increase seen between 2004 and 2005.

“That’s a good sign for the business,” Bongiovanni said.

The Rolling Stones’ “A Bigger Bang” tour, which actually began in the fall of 2005, led all other concert tours this year with $138.5 million (euro105 million) in gross receipts, Pollstar said.

The average Stones ticket was $136.63 (euro104). The tour sold about 1.01 million tickets.

Streisand’s tour ranked second, generating $92.5 million (euro70 million) in gross sales. The average ticket price was $298.36 (euro226).

The tour by McGraw and Hill earned $88.8 million (euro67 million)in gross receipts, with the average ticket selling for $80.92 (euro61).

Meanwhile, Madonna’s tour racked up $85.9 million (euro65 million)in gross ticket sales. The average ticket price was $183.76 (euro139).

Country crooner Kenny Chesney’s tour led all others in the number of tickets sold with 1.13 million. His tour pulled in $66 million (euro50 million) in gross receipts.

Not all popular tours were put on by individual artists. The Cirque Du Soleil ”Delirium” tour generated $82.1 million (euro62 million), while the Trans-Siberian Orchestra earned $37.3 million (euro28 million). Another extravaganza, the ”American Idols Live” tour, pulled in $35 million (euro26 million).

The Dixie Chicks rounded out the top 25 tours of the year, generating $27.1 million (euro21 million) in gross receipts despite the group’s lingering fallout with country fans over lead singer Natalie Maines’ criticism of U.S. President George W. Bush three years ago.

Among the other veteran acts that ended the year in the top 25 by sales receipts were Coldplay, The Who, Dave Matthews Band, Shakira and Bon Jovi.

— Associated Press