Boxoffice Insider: Pollstar Awards Winners Snapshot, Bruno Mars, Portugal. The Man

While the legend and legacy of Tom Petty dominated the Pollstar Awards, with wins for Major Tour, Rock Tour and Personal Manager of the Year, the $200 million worldwide touring juggernaut known as Bruno Mars quietly picked up awards for Urban Tour and Pop Tour of the Year, adding to the already huge 2017 for the 24K Magic star.

Bruno Mars Grammys
Matt Sayles / Invision / AP
– Bruno Mars Grammys
Bruno Mars accepts the award for record of the year for “24K Magic” at the 60th annual Grammy Awards at Madison Square Garden Jan. 28.

Along with being No. 4 on Pollstar’s Year End Top 100 Worldwide Tours, just behind stadium headliners Coldplay, Guns N’ Roses and U2, Mars also cleaned up at the recent Grammy Awards, with six wins including album, song and record of the year following the release of his 24K Magic album in November of 2016.

WME’s Michele Bernstein, who picked up the Pollstar Awards on behalf of Bruno Mars, noted the strength of 24K Magic, saying “It starts with the content,” and commending his team. “It takes a village, and on this project everybody stepped up, committed to doing the unorthodox and thought outside the box. On behalf of myself and John Marx, we thank the entire live community, most especially production manager Joel Forman, tour manager Shaun Hoffman, Live Nation and Gorilla Management”

In 2017, Mars had his way with the road, with four-night stays at the Forum in Inglewood (Nov. 7-11, 61,893 tickets, $8.42 million gross), The O2 in London (April 18-22, 71,135 tickets, $6.34 million), and doubles in major arenas like Air Canada Centre in Toronto, TD Garden Boston, Capital One Center in D.C., SAP Centre in San Jose, and stadiums in South America such as Estadio Cicero Pompeu de Toledo in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where he did two shows and sold 77,611 tickets grossing $6.7 million.

On average, Bruno sold 22,066 tickets per city and grossed more than $2 million on 121 shows. That total number of gigs is more than any other solo artist or band on the Top 100 Worldwide Tours, with only tours such as Cirque productions playing as many on the year. He has another 70 or so dates on the books for 2018, including four nights at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, so a big follow-up year is all but certain.

Another big winner on the night was Portugal. The Man. Fresh off a Grammy win for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for the smash hit “Feel It Still,” the Portland-based rock group was crowned Best New Headliner at the Pollstar Awards, as the band in 2017 had taken a clear step up in its touring.

“It’s pretty awesome that after 12 years and thousands of shows the band continues to get better and grow,” manager Rich Holtzman of Red Light Management told Pollstar. “It’s an artist development story like no other, or like very few others.”

Constant touring has been a mainstay in the band’s development.

“It’s how the band works,” Holtzman said. “It’s always been just tour, do what we do, put out records, keep writing better songs, keep getting better at touring, and eventually there’s going to be these moments in your career where you’re going to have a bump. Be there ready to take advantage of it, but also don’t get ahead of yourselves.”

Holtzman said this year’s touring began with underplays, and now, after two sellouts at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. earlier in 2017 and a date Feb. 24 at the 6,000-capacity Anthem, which sold out “super quick,” they’re talking about doing Merriweather Post Pavilion later this year.

“It’s kind of old school in the sense of taking all the steps you need to do and not skip a step,” Holtzman said, mentioning similar upgrades in Portland (two dates at McMenamin’s Edgefield Amphitheatre) and Los Angeles (Shrine Auditorium).

“It’s about making those progressions,” he said. However, even with the major growth and big wins this year, it still remains important to not get too ahead of themselves, Holtzman said, adding jokingly, “We’re still just a weird indie band from Portland via Alaska that likes to play music.”

John Gourley of Portugal. The Man
Scott Legato / Getty Images
– John Gourley of Portugal. The Man
“Chill on the Hill,” Freedom Hill Amphitheater, Sterling Heights, Mich.

Tom Petty’s massive year on the road bears repeat mention, and the band provided the emotional focal points of the Pollstar Awards, with heartfelt speeches from Personal Manager of the Year award winner Tony Dimitriades, who was joined onstage by Heartbreakers Benmont Tench and Steve Ferrone.

Petty, who unexpectedly passed Oct. 2, just days after wrapping up what would be the band’s final tour, on the road this year grossed $64.7 million, putting the band at No. 20 for the year-end worldwide chart.

The band sold a total of 693,192 tickets, averaging 18,242 per night, good for a gross of $1.7 million per show with 46 shows total.

Onstage, an emotional Dimitriades marveled at the band having its best-reviewed and most successful tour some 40 years after forming.

Highlights of this year’s tour included three nights at the Hollywood Bowl, which closed out the tour Sept. 21-25 selling 49,217 tickets and grossing $5.3 million.

Other blockbusters included Aug. 19 at Safeco Field in Seattle, which sold 42,199 tickets and grossed $3.66 million, and three nights at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley, Aug. 22-30, which sold 19,473 tickets and grossed $2.28 million as reported to Pollstar