BoxOffice Insider: Forever Young? Breaking Down The Ages Of Top Tours From The Past 10 Years
Dimitri Hakke / Redferns – Zironi
Violetta Zironi burst onto Pollstar’s charts as a 19-year-old in 2014, part of a continuing flow of new talent over the past decade. The artist is pictured here performing at Eurosonic Noorderslag in Groningen, Netherlands, Jan. 17.
Younger artists have notched major wins in the past several years, be it Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran dominating the Year End Top 100 Tours, Post Malone’s remarkable ascent from clubs to theatres to sheds to arenas, or Shawn Mendes (like Soulja Boy before him) translating online stardom into major touring success.
We decided to try something different for this week’s Boxoffice Insider and looked into the ages of the acts on the Top Tours charts over the last decade.
Average Ages Of The Top Touring Artists 2009-2018
Worldwide Top 100 Tours 2018 50
Worldwide Top 100 Tours 2017 49
Worldwide Top 100 Tours 2016 50
Worldwide Top 100 Tours 2015 49
Worldwide Top 100 Tours 2014 46
Worldwide Top 100 Tours 2013 46
Worldwide Top 100 Tours 2012 48
Worldwide Top 100 Tours 2011 46
Worldwide Top 50 Tours 2010 46
Worldwide Top 50 Tours 2009 46
(Figures rounded to the nearest whole number)
One obvious observation from the figures is that they have gotten larger in recent years, with the last four years being higher on average than any previous years from the past decade.
It makes sense that the average age of artists on the charts would rise over time, as artists, being people, get older every year.
Also, it’s largely the same pool of several hundred artists appearing at various points throughout the last decade, so a certain amount of fluctuation based on who happens to be on tour in a given year is natural.
The overall average age of top touring artists over the last decade was 47.6 (though those figures do give more weight to the Top 50 artists of 2009-10).
Does this mean that near 50-year-olds are the most popular artists on the planet? Not necessarily.
First of all, for every 20-something there is often a counterbalancing septuagenarian or sexagenarian, and so forth with artists in their 30s or 50s, until the “median” sweet spot of all these figures occurs around 47.
Furthermore, the entrants on this chart may not be accurate representations of overall industry taste or trends, as the tours represented are based on overall grosses.
Tour grosses take into account ticket sales and ticket price: as those go up, tours move up on the charts.
Artists who have had longer to establish their careers will often be making more money and chart higher, as their fans may also be able to afford more expensive tickets (i.e. The Rolling Stones, who may have been the best represented artist of the last decade, having made each of the last seven charts).
Thus, every year saw many classic rockers pull the average age of the chart upward. In fact, last year saw the most 70- to- 79 year olds charting (14) in the decade.
Some of those classic rock artists, like Elton John and Paul Simon, were/are on farewell tours, and their eventual retirement means the average of the chart should eventually drop.
Still, the higher representation of 70- to- 79 year-olds on last year’s chart begets the unfortunate question that has surfaced before: What happens to the industry when so many of the classic rock mainstays who built it decide to call it quits? They still make up a large percentage of the business conducted.
Yet, the numbers may also answer that question and indicate that the business will be fine.
Four of the top five acts from the 2018 chart were younger than 40, and plenty of young artists have made their way onto the charts recently, some seeing their popularity explode to such an extent that they are able to “skip steps” and vault into rooms well above what anyone their age would previously consider.
Far from being a recent trend though, younger artists have been hitting their stride throughout the decade and some who have entered as teens like Justin Bieber, One Direction and Miley Cyrus have made themselves mainstays throughout the decade.
2013 and 2014 were particularly good years for artists under 30, as those two years had 13 and 12 artists in that age range, respectively.
The youngest artist to make the Top Tours in the last decade was Bieber, who made the cut at the age of 16 in 2010. By contrast, the oldest was Willie Nelson, who charted in 2013 at the age of 80. Leonard Cohen also made it that year at 79.
In summary, looking at the ages of the Top Tours from the past decade demonstrates there is no shortage of developing talent. Each year had more than 40 artists under 50 years of age, and more than half of the 2014 chart fell into that category.
This research, while intriguing, is naturally limited to reports submitted to Pollstar in a given year and who was on tour that year.
To determine the age of an artist, we conducted cursory research through online search engines and identified most artists’ age at the time of publication. We then subtracted one year for each chart year we moved back.
If an artist was 50 years old at time of publication, we would list them as “50 Years Old” for the 2018 chart, “49 Years Old” for the 2017 chart, and so on. Acts with multiple members had collective ages (based on easily obtainable figures) averaged and rounded to the nearest whole number.
Theatrical acts like Cirque du Soleil and productions with large casts like Trans-Siberian Orchestra were omitted, as it was simply too difficult to get a workable number for age. 2009-10 only had figures available for the Top 50 Tours.