Pollstar’s 2017 In Review: International – Thinking Globally With Arthur Fogel

Coldplay Performs At Allianz Parque
Mauricio Santana / Getty Images
– Coldplay Performs At Allianz Parque
Chris Martin of Coldplay jumps on stage during a performance at Sao Paulo’s Allianz Parque. Nov. 7, 2017.

Because of the rapid development of markets in South America, Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia, international tours have become more lucrative than ever before.

Arthur Fogel, Live Nation’s president of global touring, told Pollstar the development of international markets like Asia and South America is because of the globalization of the live music industry.

“What you find with territories like Latin America or Southeast Asia is that things have opened up considerably, to where those territories or regions can now support a higher volume of shows,” Fogel said. “I think really the globalization of our industry is something that’s helped development, to the point to where those markets can support a high volume of shows.”

The rise of international touring was not an overnight process. Fogel said this year’s tours are a result of years of development.

“When I first started doing global tours, there were maybe 15 or 18 countries that were part of the itinerary. Now there’s close to 60,” he said. “It’s something that’s developed and evolved over a number of years, but now you look at different regions of the world that have become regular stops on most itineraries – South America, certainly Australia and New Zealand, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe.”

These markets have only recently begun to open because of economic development and prosperity, Fogel said. With a wealthier and more educated population, the average person in Brazil or Singapore can afford to buy tickets. More people are taking job positions as promoters or producers, which provides Western artists with the infrastructure to tour internationally. 

“To a large degree, it’s the economic development in different parts if the world that have allowed these markets to open up. People are getting the ability to afford to go to shows regularly,” Fogel said.

“What you find is that the expertise – the local expertise – in terms of selling tickets and producing shows, has developed dramatically over the last several years,” Fogel said. “I think we’re in a point in time where it is easier and more practical to do shows in these territories because of how people access and listen to music,” Fogel said. “They have become more familiar with artists faster and in a broader sense. All the thing that have impacted our lives, in terms of how information flows and what people are exposed to, has opened up dramatically and opened more artists to a world-wide audience.”

The data certainly bears out Fogel’s contention. U2, the top act on Pollstar’s Worldwide Touring Chart, grossed more than $139 million internationally and averaged 100,194 tickets sold per show, according to Pollstar’s box office reports. The band also reported the highest international average gross at more than $11 million.

U2 mostly stuck to the European market for its international dates, though the band played a few shows in South America, including Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Santiago, Chile.

The band’s highest grossing performance outside of the U.S. and Europe took place at Estadio El Campin in Bogota, Colombia, with more than $6 million earned.

Guns N
Photo by Marc Grimwade / WireImage
– Guns N’ Roses

Guns N’ Roses, which ranks second on the chart, made $192 million internationally. GNR has played sold-out shows in markets ranging from Santiago to Singapore to Dubai.

The band averaged north of $5 million per show and sold an average of 50, 383 tickets. GNR played its second highest grossing show at the 73,114-capicty Cricket Grounds stadium in Melbourne, Australia. The sold-out concert grossed more than $8 million. Its highest-grossing show, which raked in more than $17 million, took place at London Stadium.

Coldplay hit Europe and South America this year and ranks third on the Worldwide Touring Chart with an average international gross of more than $8 million and a total gross of $128 million. Its highest grossing show outside of the U.S. and Western Europe made more than $5 million and took place at the 50,229-capacity Arena Do Gremio in in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

Ed Sheeran found himself in many unfamiliar markets this year. The singer/songwriter, who placed No. 8 on the Worldwide Touring Chart with a total international gross of more than $46.6 million, played shows in emerging markets like Mumbai, Kuala Lumpur and Nonthaburi, Thailand. The data for those concerts were not reported to Pollstar, however.

International venues have booked more acts this as well. This is especially clear in regions like South America. Sao Paulo’s 48,274-capacity Allianz Parque stadium hosted 10 headlining shows this year, including John Mayer, Paul McCartney, and Justin Bieber. That’s double the amount reported from the venue in 2016.

Other notable South American venues include Colombia’s 22,507-capacity Estadio El Campin, which hosted concerts by U2, Justin Bieber, and Bruno Mars. There’s also the 49,098-capacity Estadio Unico Ciudad De La Plata in Argentina, where Coldplay, Bruno Mars, and Ed Sheeran played.

Dubai has also seen an increased amount of Western touring acts. Dubai’s 26,502-capacity The Autism Rocks Arena hosted six shows by international artists in 2017. Justin Bieber’s May 6 concert at the venue sold 23,936 tickets and grossed more than $3 million, and Bryan Adams’s March 9 show moved 7,471 tickets and grossed $773,957. GNR, Jennifer Lopez and Ed Sheeran also played the venue.

Singapore’s Indoor Stadium hosted a number of shows as well, including concerts by Ed Sheeran, The xx, Metallica and Selena Gomez. Sting’s sold out his May 28 concert, which grossed $862,152.

Singapore is not the only market to recently begin to bloom in Southeast Asia. Thailand saw its own wave of Western touring acts making their way through the country. Several artists played at the Impact Arena in Nonthaburi, Thailand, including Ed Sheeran, Ariana Grande, Foo Fighters, One Republic and Shawn Mendes. Guns N’ Roses also played a sold-out show in Nonthaburi’s SCG Stadium.

Chinese arenas continued to book Western artists this year. Ariana Grande played a sold-out set at the Shanghai’s 8,023-capacity Mercedes-Benz Arena, grossing $1.4 million. One Republic’s show at the venue grossed $907,105 and Metallica played a set that earned $1.2 million.

Ariana Grande grossed more than $1 million at Cadillac Arena in Beijing as well. Muse also played at the venue, selling out its show and grossing $753,180.