Boxoffice Insider: International Talent Lights Up North America

Arijit Singh
Satish Bate/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
– Arijit Singh
Arijit Singh performs during Live in concert at MMRDA Grounds, BKC on Nov. 12, 2017, in Mumbai, India.

Last week’s Boxoffice Insider focused on Paul McCartney’s globetrotting routing in 2017, but throughout the year there were also many international acts planting their flags in North America, so this week we are breaking down the business of South Korea’s

G-Dragon, for those not in the know, is a megastar over in Korea. He is a member of the boy band Big Bang, frequently referred to as the Kings of K-pop, and has had breakout success as a solo act. He toured Southeast Asia, North America, Europe, and Australia/New Zealand in 2017, and we managed to get complete reports on his stateside dates.

He played eight dates in North America, starting July 11 at KeyArena at Seattle Center, and wrapping up July 30 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, which was his only Canadian date on the year. G-Dragon reported a $7.8 million gross and 59,362 tickets sold. That works out to an average gross of more than $983,000 per night and 7,420 tickets per show, as there were no doubleheaders.

Not all of the shows were sellouts but he did seem to get the memo on the recent North American trend of aggressive pricing, as those shows ranged from $65 to $245. His smallest show was in Miami’s AmericanAirlines Arena, which only reported 4,481 tickets, small in comparison to the rest of his dates, but still earned him $562,097.

Considering he doesn’t really sing in English, the figures should serve as a pretty good benchmark for how various North American markets can respond to K-Pop.

One non-English genre that has always done well in the U.S. is Banda music, so it should be no surprise that Banda MS did bang-on business in 2017. The Sinaloan group launched the career of Julión Álvarez many moons ago and is still a big draw with Latino audiences.

Banda MS reported more than $8 million grossed, and with estimates incorporated, earned more than $8.5 million in the U.S. and Mexico. The group reported 126,591 tickets sold, with tickets ranging from $40 to $250 for three nights at Microsoft Theater, and most stateside shows ranging around $50 to more than $120.

Obviously, the biggest market for Banda music is in Mexico, but fans north of the border still turned out in force, as the band reported sellouts in Kent, Wash., April 2 and Rosemont, Ill., March 25. That night in Rosemont was their most profitable show reported on the year, grossing more than $1.3 million. The market wasn’t starved either, as Banda MS played Aragon Ballroom in 2016 and 2015.

Finally, acclaimed Indian musician Arijit Singh submitted reports for all of his 2017 dates in North America. He played six shows in the U.S. for a total of nearly $4.7 million grossed and 45,734 tickets reported.

Singh’s venue size varied widely, with the houses in Texas cities of Cedar Park and Sugar Land, capping around 6,000. But in bigger markets he reported 10,635 tickets to the 11,035-capacity Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., April 22 and 13,763 out of 13,828 at SAP Center in San Jose, Calif., April 15. Those big venues turned out to be not only his biggest paydays at more than $1 million each, but also his highest percentage of tickets sold.

All of his shows had a huge variance in terms of pricing, but the biggest gap was at H-E-B Center in Cedar Park, Texas, which had a low-end of $59 and a high-end of $1,500. He grossed $291,855 at that show, with 3,115 tickets sold.

These are just a few international acts that came to North America in 2017, showing that its not only Western acts that are looking to expand beyond their bread-and-butter markets.