2012 Mid-Year Features

Adjustments For Success

The Top 100 Tours in North America generated a combined gross of $1,125.9 million, which is up 1.2% over last year.

The average ticket price dropped $6.34, or 9.4%, to $60.68, the lowest we have seen since the $58.61 average in 2007.

The best news is that the total tickets sold by the Top 100 tours hit a record 18.6 million. That represents a 1.9 million-ticket, or 11.3%, increase over the 16.7 million sold in 2011.

Mid-Year Business Analysis PDF

Top 100 North American Tours

Top 50 Worldwide Tours

Top 100 Concert Grosses


Worldwide Ticket Sales

Top 100 Tours

Top 100 Promoters

Top 100 Arenas

Top 100 Theatres

Top 100 Clubs

Top 50 Outdoor Sites

Top 50 Amphitheatres


The average ticket sales per city was 5,954, down 808 seats or 11.9% from last year’s 6,762. The average gross per city was $361,319, a drop of more than 20% or $92,000 from the previous year.

The concert industry appears to have made some successful adjustments to better reflect today’s economic realities. Simply put, ticket prices have been lowered and venues have been down-sized. To make up the revenue, many artists are working more shows. The Top 100 Tours of North America played shows in a combined total of 2,822 cities. That represents a 17.4% jump in the number of markets or 420 additional played over what we saw in 2011.

The industry has gone full Cirque ahead. North America’s top grossing tour in the first half of the year was the Cirque du Soleil “Michael Jackson: The Immortal” spectacular at $78.5 million. It has been a great year so far for all those French Canadian acrobats. In addition to the MJ show, Cirque had four other touring productions rank in the top 25 with total sales of nearly 1.8 million tickets.

Country music artists continue to be well represented among the major tours.

Ten of the 35 biggest tours were by country acts including new headliners Miranda Lambert and Eric Church.

Even with their more modest ticket prices, the new generation of EDM artists are starting to have a greater impact as they begin doing longer tours in more traditional venues. Steve Aoki leads the 2012 parade followed by Avicii and Bassnectar. Last year only Tiesto (who just missed the cut this year) made the Top 100.

Worldwide Top 50

Roger Waters has done by far the biggest tour in the world, grossing $158.1 million and selling more than 1.4 million tickets.

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band was a distant second at $79.9 million and more than 925,000 tickets sold.

While Waters still has a few Walls left to build on his itinerary, while Springsteen also has a long way to go before the end of the Wrecking Ball tour and still could finish with the year’s top outing. Madonna, who has yet to hit North America, also has an outside shot.

Pollstar has now compiled three years of Worldwide Top 50 Tour rankings and going forward we will be able to do more extensive year-over-year comparisons. In compiling and projecting the Top 50, Pollstar had complete information on 33 tours and only had to make projections for about 10% of the data.

Ticket Sales Charts

Although their boxoffice reporting is not consistent, Live Nation generated more than 10 million in global ticket sales for the first half of the year. That is up substantially over last year’s 7.8 million. AEG Live is in second position at about 3.9 million tickets sold but that is significantly down from last year’s 5.4 million. The numbers for most other promoters were up this year.

The O2 in London continues its lock on the No. 1 slot on our Top 100 Arenas chart with nearly 700,000 tickets sold. The top-ranked arena venue in North America is the new Arena Ciudad De Mexico at No. 10, followed by Montreal’s Bell Centre at No. 11, and the highest-ranked U.S. venue, the HP Pavilion At San Jose, is No. 12.

Demonstrating the global nature of the major concert business, nearly half of the arenas in the rankings are outside the United States.

Business at the theatre and club levels appears to be more robust this year. Even the outdoor amphitheatres, which are gradually diminishing in industry importance, appear to be posting stronger numbers. This is in large part because of more conservative booking and ticket pricing adjustments made by Live Nation, which operates most of the sheds in North America.

The Big Shows

The festival season is just getting under way and appears to be off to a great start. Although ticket prices are not cheap, festivals continue to offer fans a great value. Promoters now understand that the success of a festival has nearly as much to do with the fan environment as the talent booked onto the stages.

It’s the reason Coachella could not only sell out in advance without announcing a talent lineup, but was also able to double its capacity by doing the same show over two weekends. The $47.3 million gross is the largest ever reported for a concert event.

The fan environment created for Coachella, Bonnaroo, Electric Daisy, Ultra, Outside Lands and the other major festivals is a primary key to their success. Spending production money on splash fountains, Ferris wheels, large art installations, shade tents, interactive exhibits and using theatrical lighting to illuminate the festival site is clearly paying dividends for promoters.

As an industry, the concert business needs to work harder on improving the fan experience if we want to keep the turnstiles spinning in the future as more forms of entertainment compete for consumer dollars. And that is especially true at the arena and amphitheatre level where our customers, on occasion, are still treated more like cattle than valued patrons. .



2012 1Q

Ticket Sales Charts Archive 2001-2011