Follow The Loons: Canada’s Big Markets And Artists

AP Photo / Graham Hughes / The Canadian Press
– Celine Dion
Celine Dion belts one out for her Canadian brethren at the Bell Centre in Montreal July 31, 2016. Dion’s Bell Centre run that year grossed a staggering $16.7 million in nine shows, the largest market appearance in the country that year.

Canada may sometimes be pigeonholed as the U.S.’s neighbor to the North, but the country has sizeable markets and acts that stand on their own in the North American touring circuit. 

Looking at reports from 2017, the largest three markets will come as no surprise: Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.

Of those, Toronto, Canada’s most populous city at around 3 million, had the highest total gross on the year, with almost $109 million grossed on 139 reports. That can largely be attributed to reports from Air Canada Centre, the country’s highest grossing venue for 2017.

That venue came in at No. 11 on last year’s Worldwide Top 200 Arenas chart, and reported  $62.6 million gross, more than half of the city’s reported yearly total.

Other venues making Toronto one of Canada’s destination music cities are Rogers Centre stadium, Budweiser Stage, Grand Chapiteau At The Port Lands, Sony Centre For The Performing Arts, Massey Hall, The Danforth Music Hall and clubs like Rebel. Of all the Canadian amphitheatres, Budweiser Stage was the only one to crack the Top 100 Amphitheatres chart for 2017, coming in at No. 41.

The best reporting city last year, by far, was Montreal, with a whopping 417 reports submitted, for a combined gross of more than $97.4 million. Leading the pack was the 21,500-capacity Bell Centre, which reported a business gross of more than $44 million on the year. Bell Centre was No. 27 on the year’s Top 200 Arenas chart.

The best reporting venue in the entire country was Montreal’s Corona Theatre which averaged $16,169 per show, turning in a whopping 64 reports that grossed more than $1 million in business on the year, despite a max capacity of 1,000. Props also go to MTELUS (2,350 capacity), which reported 59 shows with an average gross of $64,435 per show, meaning more than $3.8 million.

Vancouver was the third-largest Canadian market last year, with $68.6 million grossed off 107 reports, for an average of $641,406. That average is weighted because of the volume of reports from Rogers Arena and a few huge shows at BC Place stadium.

Other cities also doing considerable business: Edmonton grossed $36.9 million on the year off 74 reports; Winnipeg, which grossed $22.7 million off 109 reports; Quebec City, which grossed $16.7 million off 55 reports; and Hamilton, Ontario, which grossed almost $11.8 million off 69 reports.

In terms of touring acts, 2017 didn’t have many surprises, as the same acts that dominated the charts in the U.S. were big in the Great White North.

The highest reporting artist in Canada for 2017, excluding all Cirque du Soleil shows, was Montreal’s Martin Perizzolo, who turned in 54 reports, all in clubs throughout Quebec. Philippe Bond similarly played Quebec clubs and theatres and submitted 43 reports. 

In 2016, though, Celine Dion truly took her crown as Queen Celine. The Quebec native’s run of nine shows at Bell Centre grossed nearly $16.7 million, the highest-grossing market appearance in the country on the year, even beyond all festivals. Combining that gross with her run that year in Quebec City made her the country’s highest-grossing artist for the year, exlcuding “Cirque Du Soleil” productions.

Another standout of the last few years was the 2016 farewell tour from The Tragically Hip, the last outing of Gord Downie. That tour consisted of 10 reports totaling $18.5 million, an average of $1.85 million per market appearance. Beyond just money, though, it got all of Canada talking about inefficiencies within the secondary market, and gave audiences a chance to say goodbye to one of Canadian music’s most beloved figures.

After his passing, Downie’s agent Jeff Craib of the Feldman Agency told Pollstar: “People were in each other’s houses, in yards, in the arena. Almost every community broadcast that [last] show. It’s hard to explain how deep this is to people that weren’t involved and aren’t fans, but it really affected everybody.” And that’s what makes Canada a special place.