2011 Year End Features

The world’s Top 50 touring attractions generated a combined $3.07 billion, which was up 3.7% over 2010’s $2.96 billion. Total revenues are still well below the $3.34 billion sold by the Top 50 in 2009.

Total tickets sold declined to 35.48 million, a drop of 3.41 million or 8.7%, from 2010’s 38.89 million. Somewhere along the way, nearly 10 million ticket buyers disappeared from the 45.3 million that turned out to see the Top 50 in 2009.

The worldwide average ticket price jumped to $86.53, an increase of $10.42 or 13.6% over 2010’s $76.11 average. That also represents a 17.2% price increase to fans over 2009’s average of $73.83.


2011 Year End Special Features

Year End Business Analysis (includes charts and graphics)

2011 In Review

Top 100 Worldwide Tours

Top 200 North American Tours

Top 200 Concert Grosses

Top 100 International Boxoffice


Worldwide Ticket Sales Charts

Top 100 Tours

Top 100 Promoters

Top 100 Clubs

Top 200 Arenas

Top 100 Amphitheatres

Top 100 Theatres

Top 100 Outdoor Stadiums & Festival Sites


See Also: Ticket Sales Charts Archive


The concert business continues to add viable new markets around the world as today’s superstar attractions become increasingly global in popularity. It’s no longer just about how to fit the odd jaunt to Japan or Australia in between North American and Western European tours. South America can now represent the full leg of a tour. Major cities in the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Russia, China, South Africa, and the U.A.E. are now competing for dates on the tour calendar.

This is the first year that Pollstar has doubled the rankings in our worldwide chart to include the Top 100 Tours. We expect this chart to provide our primary metrics for year-over-year comparisons in the future. Because of the increasing volume of international data, we have also expanded our Year End Ticket Sales chart rankings for Arena venues to a Top 200.

The Top 100 worldwide tours in 2011 sold 54.17 million tickets for a total gross of $4.24 billion at an average ticket price of $78.33. There were 18 tours on the chart that didn’t visit North America in 2011. Most notable was the reunion tour by Take That, which means little in the U.S. but was so enormous in the U.K. and Europe that the group’s 17-city tour total of $224 million nearly topped U2. Major acts including Roger Waters, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Neil Diamond all concentrated on gathering foreign currencies but are expected to return to America in 2012.

Back In North America

It was a year of retrenchment as the concert business adjusted to the reality check from 2010. Pollstar estimates that total ticket revenues for all major concerts in North America increased to $4.35 billion. That represents about a 2% increase over last year’s $4.25 billion, but is still well below the record $4.6 billion in 2009.

The Top 100 tours of North America did a combined gross of $2.34 billion, which is up 6.3% over last year’s $2.2 billion, but still 7.5% behind the $2.53 billion generated in 2009.

While gross revenues continue to trend upwards total tickets sold is headed in the other direction. The Top 100 tours moved a total of 34.74 million tickets, which was down about 2.6% from last year’s 35.67 million tickets. Make of it what you will, but the Top 100 tours lost over 14% of its concert-going audience in comparison to 2009’s total of 40.49 million.

Coming off a down year, it would seem counterintuitive to suggest the industry’s best strategy would be to substantially raise ticket prices, but that is exactly what happened. The average ticket price soared to $67.22, an increase of $5.48 or 8.8% over last year’s $61.74. The average price peaked in 2008 at $67.33 before falling to $62.57 in 2009.

The final year of the U2 tour juggernaut easily topped the charts with $156 million in North America and $232 million worldwide. That makes for a three-year grand total of $703.9 million, which is presumably more than enough to pay for the multiple versions of the Claw.

Taylor Swift’s tour became the biggest country music outing in history grossing $97.7 million, which dwarfs the previous record of $88.8 million done by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill in 2006. With her international dates included, Swift also is the first country artist to gross over $100 million in a single year of touring.

Country music artists accounted for 10 of the top 50 tours but only 14 of the top 100. Jason Aldean had a real breakout year with $28.3 million.

The techno world of DJs and turntables has thumped its way into the world of big ticket sellers. Tiesto is a global star who grossed $27.8 million worldwide and $19.4 million in North America. Deadmau5 did $10.1 million in the states and there is a host of other new talent exploding out of this scene.

Cirque du Soleil has been a major ticket seller for years with its multiple static shows in Las Vegas, but its touring shows are now becoming regular arena bookings. Three different Cirque shows finished in the top 20 and a fourth came in at No. 26.

Top Shows

The list of the 200 highest-grossing shows in North America was dominated by Taylor Swift with 22 cities and U2 with all 21 of its cities. Coachella’s nearly $25 million gross was the single biggest box office report of the year in the U.S.

On the international side, the Take That reunion tour promoted by SJM had the largest single gross ever reported with $62.8 million from 8 shows at London’s Wembley Stadium. Add in the 8 shows in Manchester and the aging Brit boy band grossed over $107 million in just two cities.

Live Nation, which vowed to do fewer shows last year, was still the largest promoter in the world with more than 22 million tickets sold as reported to Pollstar. Last year the company reported 25.1 million tickets sold. AEG was second with 12.2 million tickets sold, which is nearly equal to last year’s 12.5 million.

Preview 2012

There are plenty of reasons for optimism as we look forward to 2012. Although the recession is far from over, there does seem to be a growing sense of optimism by consumers. With a stellar array of talent set to hit the road, if 2012 is not a great year for the concert industry, it won’t be due to a lack of major attractions.

The Beach Boys will be joined by Brian Wilson as they celebrate their 50th anniversary with what will be by far their biggest tour in history. The Rolling Stones, who are also notching 50 years together, have yet to announce a tour but it would be a complete shock if they didn’t. Madonna is already committed to touring as is Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band in its first outing without the Big Man.

Fleetwood Mac is regrouping with Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham, while Black Sabbath gets Ozzy Osbourne back at the mic, and Van Halen tour again with David Lee Roth. Roger Waters brings “The Wall” back to American stadiums after a year overseas, while Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw team again for a stadium tour. Neil Diamond gets back to work and there is even talk of Barbra Streisand doing some dates.

Adele will begin to try and satisfy a huge global demand made even stronger by her limited touring last year. Add all of this together with Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, and Justin Bieber (who seemed to be everywhere in 2011 but didn’t tour the U.S.) and there is ample reason to think that 2012 should be a record-setting year for the concert business.