Q3 Business Analysis: Ed Sheeran Tops Third Quarter, But Can Anyone Catch Bad Bunny?

El Rey: Bad Bunny performs during his “El Ultimo Tour Del Mundo” at FTX Arena in Miami, Florida, April 1. Photo by Jason Koerner / Getty Images

Q3 Top 100 Average Gross And Ticket Price Reach New Heights

Most every year in the live space, there are artists who take a giant step forward in their careers and reach new heights as a concert performer. This year, any discussion about breakout touring artists has to include Bad Bunny (né Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio), the 28-year-old Latin trap superstar who this year rocketed to stratospheric stardom performing before capacity crowds at first arenas and now stadiums throughout North America.

His box-office success has significantly impacted the Pollstar charts since the year began, including the first quarterly recap where he landed at No. 7 on the Top 100 Worldwide Tours. The Q1 ranking was based on February concerts at four arenas on his “El Último Tour del Mundo,” along with stadium and arena shows last December in his native Puerto Rico.

By the time the ranking for the Q2 recap was compiled, he had leaped to No. 1 among the top 100 with $120.1 million in grosses reported from 39 shows that fell in the mid-year eligibility timeframe.

With the first three quarters of the year behind us, he currently stands at No. 3 on the Q3 chart with a gross of $163.6 million from 46 concerts – primarily arena performances from the early months of the year. But also included are the first three stadium dates, which began in early August on his “World’s Hottest Tour” booked in major sports venues in the Western Hemisphere through early December. His schedule of concerts that occur after the Q3 deadline includes 27 more stadium shows.

Counting his previous shows for the final year-end chart tallies, and after averaging almost $10 million per show at the stadium dates already played this year, rough estimates of his potential for the full chart year point to a jaw-dropping gross of approximately $439 million.

A box-office haul in that range during a single year would land him in the company of just one person: Ed Sheeran, who topped the 2018 year-end chart with $432.4 million for one year of shows on his record-smashing “Divide” tour. No other artist has ever passed the $400 million threshold in a single year, according to archived box-office data.

Which begs the question: Among the third quarter’s top concert headliners, who else could make a run for highest-grossing tour of 2022 when all the reported box-office data is counted?

Heading up the Top 100 Worldwide Tours is a powerful lineup of touring heavyweights who own the top 10 positions on the Q3 chart. The four highest-grossing headliners on that top 10 list could all surpass a quarter-billion dollars and make a play for the top spot. As always, box office reporting is the key to final chart standings in any quarter of the year.

Sheeran currently has the No. 1 tour with a gross of $187.5 million from 22 performances that fall in the Q3 time frame (Nov. 18, 2021-Aug. 17, 2022). The European leg of his “Mathematics” tour is just days away from completion on Sept. 25, but a concert in Austin, Texas, at the Formula One World Championship will follow in October. That will be his final 2022 performance as the tour will not resume until February. Using averages from his stadium shows in Europe this summer, the dates remaining this year could produce an overall gross reaching $259 million or more.

Coldplay’s $179.4 million gross for Q3, based on 34 performances on the “Music of the Spheres” world tour, could rise as high as $380 million for the year when gross sums from the band’s fall schedule are added to the tour totals. Likewise, Elton John could possibly hit $335 million for 2022 with full reporting from his “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” trek that has a steady slate of North American stadium dates scheduled this fall.

The four tours that follow Ed Sheeran, Coldplay, Bad Bunny and Elton John all land in the $100 million range in total grosses. The Rolling Stones’ “Sixty” tour, “The Stadium Tour” starring co-headliners Def Leppard & Mötley Crüe, Kenny Chesney’s “Here and Now” and Paul McCartney’s “Got Back” land on the top 10 at Nos. 5 through 8, respectively.

The Rolling Stones had $136 million from ticket sales on their summer tour through European stadiums that wrapped on Aug. 3, along with two performances last November that occurred after the 2021 year-end deadline (they also had the 2021 top-grossing tour at $115.5 million). Their summer run included a two-show engagement at London’s Hyde Park where attendance hit 130,000 with a gross of $22.4 million.

The Mötley Crüe/Def Leppard headlining tour, supported by Poison and Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, racked up $117.8 million from 25 concerts with overall attendance of 906,827 beginning with the first show in Atlanta on June 16 through an Indianapolis performance the day before the Aug. 17 cut-off date for Q3. Totals from 11 more stadium dates after that will be included in the year-end counts.

Chesney’s tour topped $114.4 million from 37 shows through the Q3 deadline with tickets numbering just over 1.1 million. His final three stadium dates bring that ticket total to nearly 1.3 million and a gross of $135 million and will be added to produce final box-office counts for the year-end issue (see page 38). His Q3 numbers are based on sales figures from shows at 18 stadiums and 17 amphitheaters.

McCartney played stadiums and arenas on his 16-show run stateside from April through June, topping $105 million in sales from 423,659 tickets. Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena, Oakland Arena in California and Boston’s Fenway Park each hosted the rock legend for two nights.

Rounding out the top 10 is country star Morgan Wallen’s “Dangerous” trek, ninth on the chart, and the legendary Eagles following at No. 10 with their “Hotel California 2022” tour. With reports from the remainder of Wallen’s dates, including an October stadium event in the Dallas/Fort Worth market, his final gross for the year could top $100 million, while Eagles’ sales figures from the remainder of their 2022 schedule could take the band close to the $100 million mark.

Beyond the top 10 there are other marquee concert headliners with noteworthy box-office results in 2022, none more so than Harry Styles who ranks 12th in the top 100 with a $76.7 million gross. He also will easily break the $100 million barrier after completing his current three-month run of multiple shows booked at four U.S. arenas through the 15th of November.

A thriving fall concert season ahead will cap a year that has seen considerable box-office success in this first full year of unencumbered live entertainment after two years dealing with the effects of the pandemic. The archives show that the top 100 tours have drawn 37.4 million fans to 2,913 performances at concert venues worldwide this year. Grosses reported from those events during the past nine months top $3.82 billion.

That averages just over $1.31 million per show, which is higher than the 2019 gross average of $1.23 million during the same period and is the highest ever. The top 100 tours have also seen a bump this year in average attendance per show compared to 2019. This year’s average number of tickets sold per show is 12,831 – 66 more than the 12,765 average three years ago before the pandemic.

And, as it also was in the first two quarterly recaps, the average ticket price in 2022 through nine months shows improvement. The average ticket price in 2019 was $96.17 at Q3, while this year’s ticket price average is $102.21, which is also a new record.

Click here to view the Q3 reports for Top 100 Worldwide Tours, Stadiums, Promoters, Clubs, Auditoriums/Theatres, Arenas and Amphitheatres