2010 Year End Features

Pollstar estimates that total ticket revenues for major concerts in North America fell to $4.25 billion from 2009’s record of $4.6 billion. This is the first time since 1995 that we have seen a decline in concert industry ticket sales.


2010 Year End Special Features

Year End Business Analysis (includes charts and graphics)

Top 50 Worldwide Tours

Top 100 North American Tours

Top North American Tours 101-200

Top 200 Concert Grosses

Top 100 International Boxoffice


Worldwide Ticket Sales Charts

Top 100 Tours

Top 100 Promoters

Top 100 Clubs

Top 100 Arenas

Top 100 Amphitheatres

Top 100 Theatres

Top 100 Outdoor Stadiums & Festival Sites


Click here for Ticket Sales Charts Archive


Total Sales Dip

Pollstar estimates that total ticket revenues for major concerts in North America fell to $4.25 billion from 2009’s record of $4.6 billion. This is the first time since 1995 that we have seen a decline in concert industry ticket sales.

There are a number of reasons for the drop, but the most important was the industry’s basic failure to understand the fragility of consumer demand levels due to continuing high unemployment and the public’s uncertainty about their own economic stability.

With the financial markets falling apart at the end of 2008, it didn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that 2009 was not the right time to aggressively try and grab every last dollar off the table. As it turned out, 2009 was a generally good year for the global concert business because industry decision makers took a conservative approach to their touring strategy.

Unfortunately, the difference between an aggressive or conservative approach to touring only becomes clear in hindsight. Setting price points, size of venue, support talent budgets and market selection vary widely from one artist to another.

Based on an expectation that the economy would improve in 2010, many artists assumed they could go back to pushing the envelope. For most, that was clearly the wrong answer.

Top 100 Tours

The Top 100 Tours of North America grossed a combined $2.2 billion, which was down 13% from last year’s record $2.53 billion. That is the smallest number since 2005’s $2.07 billion.

Total ticket sales for the Top 100 was 35.67 million; a drop of nearly 12% from 40.49 million in 2009. You have to go all the way back to 2002’s 35.1 million to find a smaller number.

The average gross per show of $530,067 among the Top 100 tours was down by nearly six figures or 15.4% from last year’s $626,813. The average number of tickets sold per show also saw a steep decline of 14.2% to 8,586 from the previous year’s 10,018.

For the second year in a row, the average ticket price to see one of the Top 100 Tours declined. It took an average of $61.74 or 83 cents less than 2009’s $62.57. Prices peaked in 2008 with an average of $67.33.

Worldwide Top 50

The Top 50 Worldwide Concert Tours grossed a combined $2.96 billion which was down about 11% from last year’s $3.34 billion.
Total tickets sold was 38.9 million, which was down about 14% from 2009’s 45.3 million. The average ticket price increased a relatively modest 3% to $76.11.

The above numbers are slightly different from what Pollstar released in December thanks to some late-arriving data added just before the end of the year.

Box Office Reporting

Live Nation stopped routine reporting of box office results to the trades in June. The world’s largest concert promoter did agree to supply figures upon the request of the artist and Pollstar did receive quite a bit of information directly from Live Nation or others involved in their shows.

The lack of reporting is most evident in the Top 100 Amphitheatres Chart where Live Nation dominates the outdoor landscape. That was also the market segment that struggled the most in the current economic climate. Overpriced general admission lawn seats were deeply discounted at sheds across the country and concerns about how that would look to the industry may have been part of the reason Live Nation stopped regular reporting.

Pollstar continues to improve its data collection efforts and despite Live Nation’s withdrawal from the reporting community, our database still included more than 35,000 show reports for 2010 representing more than 1 billion tickets sold worldwide. That number is only about 1,000 box office reports less than a year ago, in part due to a substantial increase in international data collection, which accounted for about $2.4 billion of the total $6.1 billion in our global tour database for the year.

Big Shows

The Bon Jovi tour topped both our Worldwide and North American charts with a total gross of $201.1 million, of which $108.2 million came from North America. The band from New Jersey accounted for 22 of the Top 200 grosses.

Roger Waters’ tour of “The Wall” was the year’s biggest artistic success and a brilliant showcase of the latest in production effects. It also contributed 22 of the biggest grosses of the year in North America, which was no small feat considering how many seats had to be killed in order to fit the production in arenas.

Dave Matthews Band had another solid year with 15 big shows. Paul McCartney added 14 shows to the list and Eagles added 12 more.

On the venue side, the iconic Madison Square Garden was the place to play with 15 box office bonanzas. Toronto’s Air Canada Centre and L.A.’s Staples Center each added 8 shows.

Mexico City was well represented with 7 large outdoor shows at Foro Sol and 6 more at Auditorio Nacional, the world’s largest indoor theatre.

The Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Bell Centre in Montreal, and Verizon Center in D.C. each added 5 shows to the list.

The top individual box office gross reported was the three-show run by AC/DC at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium which took in over $25.6 million on sales of 213,045 tickets. A similar run in Melbourne took in only slightly less.

Live Nation’s Download Festival in the U.K. and MCD’s Oxegen Festival in Ireland also grossed more than $20 million.

Coachella achieved the top gross in the U.S. with $21.7 million. That was closely followed by Bon Jovi’s four-night run at the New Meadowlands Stadium. C3 accounted for the next two slots with its Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits festivals.

Past & Future

The biggest story of the year was the completion of the Live Nation / Ticketmaster merger and how the resulting behemoth would impact the rest of the industry. The answer so far is not that much unless you were one of the employees who got axed as the company reduced overhead.

Independent promoters had expressed business privacy concerns about having a competitor handle their ticketing, but so far no one has been able to demonstrate any evidence of abuse.

AEG is still using Ticketmaster but is being quiet about its future plans in that business. It is the only company with a critical mass of venues and events to conceivably launch its own head-on competing system. Meanwhile smaller upstarts like TicketFly and FrontGate continue to grow from the bottom up.

So the year ended as it began, with significant uncertainty in the worlds of ticketing and concert promotion. The year ahead will likely bring some game-changing business moves. The trick, as always, is figuring out how to adapt to the ones that become a reality.