Madonna Justifies 2008

The top-selling tour of 2008 is Madonna’s Sticky & Sweet, earning $105.3 million.

Celine Dion could only wave into Madge’s rearview mirror from second place with $94 million in ducats sold. Eagles are No. 3 with $73.4 million and Kenny Chesney fourth with $72.2 million. Bon Jovi, fifth at $70.4 million, started its highly successful tour in 2007 and those numbers were reported at the end of that year.

Rounding out the touring Top 10 are Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, $69.3 million; Neil Diamond, $59.8 million; Rascal Flatts, $55.8 million; The Police, $48 million and Tina Turner, $47.7 million.

The numbers may not be the biggest ever – The Police rang up $133.2 million last year, and neither tour approaches The Rolling Stones’ record of $162 million in 2005 – but Madonna’s numbers are more than respectable given the state of the economy and ticket prices to match her lofty status.

The numbers also give the powers that be at Live Nation something to smile about. It’s a material world, and Live Nation is well on its way to recouping the cost of its 360 deal with the Material Girl. The company’s 10-year deal gives Live Nation comprehensive rights to her tours, recordings, merchandise and pretty much anything else she does commercially.

Celine Dion is no stranger to Pollstar’s Top 10 either – the Canadian songstress was No. 4 last year. However, in 2008 she moves up two spots for a tour that actually travels, rather than for her lengthy residency at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace that ran from 2003 through December 2007.

Eagles proved that a “rebranding” doesn’t have to hurt ticket sales. Don Henley, Glenn Frey and company released Long Road Out of Eden exclusively through Walmart last year and made the rounds of Country Music Television and several awards shows in 2008, and didn’t miss a step – or a ticket sales opportunity.

Kenny Chesney is nothing if not consistent, ending the year with the fourth-highest grossing tour for the second year in a row. The Jimmy Buffett of Country Music is living up to his friend’s history at the turnstile, filling sheds and stadiums and bringing a popular party vibe with him.

And Bon Jovi carried over its 2007 touring success long into 2008 for its No. 5 finish. The tour launched in Puerto Rico in June, good enough for a No. 48 finish for the year before picking back up in 2008 and running strong through its July 14-15 blowout wrap party at New York’s Madison Square Garden.