2012 Year End Features

Worldwide Touring

Global markets continue to grow in importance as artists increasingly find there is gold in the rapidly emerging markets of South America and other parts of the world.  The United Arab Emirates, India, Russia and China no longer raise eyebrows when they appear on an itinerary.

The Top 50 Worldwide Tours grossed a total of $3 billion in 2012, which was nearly identical to the $3.07 billion the previous year.  The total tickets sold continued to decline slightly from 35.48 million last year to 34.9 million in 2012. 

That is still more than 5 million fewer tickets than were sold in 2009.  The average ticket price did drop 60 cents to $85.93 this year, but that is still more than $12 up over the prices in the healthier climes of 2009.

If you ever wondered what happens to all those Olympic-caliber gymnasts, water polo players, or high-diving athletes after their competitive careers end, you might want to look at the casts of the record number of Cirque du Soleil shows touring the world. 

Eight different touring Cirque shows, generating a total gross of more than $407 million, made the Top 50 this year as compared to four last year.  Adding in all the static Cirque shows in Las Vegas and other countries likely would push Guy Laliberte’s cast of Canadian clowns into billion-dollar territory.

North American Record

Pollstar estimates the size of the North American concert business hit a record $4.7 billion in 2012.  That’s up about 8% over last year with much of the growth coming from artists touring at the more modest levels below the superstar strata.

The Top 100 tours alone generated $2.52 billion of the more than $4.3 billion in show reports in the Pollstar database.  That is nearly equal to the record $2.53 billion generated in 2009.

Total tickets sold increased to 36.7 million, a jump of more than 5% over last year’s 34.74 million, but still well shy of the industry record 40.49 million in 2009.

The average ticket price hit a record $68.76, an increase of $1.54 over last year’s $67.22.  It appears that much of the increase was driven by the handful of tours with triple-digit average prices.

Led by Madonna at an average of $140.38 per ticket, there were 24 tours with Benjamin-busting prices as compared to 18 tours last year.  The Rolling Stones, always a leader in some way or another, set a new milestone with an average ticket price of more than $500 for their handful of shows in 2012.

Year End Features

Business Analysis (includes charts and graphics)

2012 In Review

Top 100 Worldwide Tours

Top 200 North American Tours

Top 200 Concert Grosses

Top 100 International Boxoffice

Top 20 Worldwide Festival Grosses

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

Growing Impact

Huge music festivals continue to proliferate as they increase in importance to the touring business.  To recognize this, Pollstar has produced its first year-end Top 20 Worldwide Festival Grosses chart.

Promoters have discovered that successful festival brands can be expanded to include cruises and other spin-off events.  Lollapalooza and Ultra are two brands actively working to replicate their U.S. success with new festivals in South America and around the world.

EDM artists have become staples at music festivals and gained tremendous mainstream press attention.  Successful DJs can make huge personal appearance fees playing fancy nightclubs and some even get a share of the “corking” fee on those thousand-dollar bottles of vodka. 

But the EDM scene has yet to translate into touring success in theatres or arenas.  Bassnectar, at No. 98, was the only EDM artist to crack the North American Top 100.   The genre was, however, well represented in the bottom 100 with TiestoSteve AokiPretty LightsAviciiSkrillex, and Kaskade.

Big Shows

Madonna did the year’s top tour so it’s not surprising that her concert grosses dominated the North American Top 200 Grosses with 29 reports and the International Top 100 Grosses with 21.  Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band accounted for 13 slots in the U.S. and another 17 overseas.  Coldplay, which did the biggest tour of its career, added 13 grosses to each chart.  Roger Waters is the only other artist to figure prominently on both lists with 12 giant Walls built in America and another nine around the world.

The Colosseum At Caesars Palace  with its 17 extended runs, was the most active venue in North America in the Top 200.  Radio City and MSG each had eight grosses while Canada was well-represented by Montreal’s Bell Centre  with seven shows and Toronto’s Air Canada Centre with six slots.

On the international side, London’s O2 and Paris’ Stade de France each registered four spots, as did Australia’s Allphones ArenaBrisbane Entertainment Centre, and Rod Laver Arena.

Live Nation accounted for 50 of the Top 100 International grosses and 85 of the Top 200 in North America.  AEG Live promoted 49 of the Top 200 shows in North America.

Altered Landscape 2013

The concert industry power structure is always evolving but few would argue that the new year will see some seismic changes.

The biggest question is who will win the billionaire auction for AEG and its impressive stable of marquee assets and veteran personnel?  Phil Anschutz gave Tim Leiweke plenty of freedom to build AEG and it paid off handsomely. 

Hopefully the new owners will be long-term players and not venture capitalists looking for a quick pump and dump.
The other big changes are occurring over in Beverly Hills, where the New Year’s Eve surprise of Irving Azoff’s hasty exit ensured Live Nation will take on a bit different personality.  Michael Rapino has already survived longer than any other previous LN/SFX exec and he appears well-suited to handle the corporate BS that Azoff detested.

The real question going forward is what controlling shareholder John Malone does with the company.  He is rumored to be considering a buyout that would take the company private.

There are some other large players that could make significant impacts.  Robert Sillerman talked big about an EDM rollup but not a lot has happened. Jim Dolan is taking Madison Square Garden Enterprises to the West Coast where it is trying to turn the old Fabulous Forum into a prominent Los Angeles arena.  Southern California is already a highly competitive market with Nederlander and Insomniac and the world headquarters of both LN and AEG.  Will MSG join the SoCal talent bidding wars or strike an alliance with another player?

CAA and William Morris Endeavor continue to expand into new areas beyond mere talent representation.  Meanwhile, there is talk that former ICM topper Jeff Berg and former American Talent International owner Jeff Franklin are putting together a new major agency.

It is definitely going to be an interesting year ahead.