Focus On The Top: 2023’s Highest-Grossing U.S. Markets 1
Radio City Music Hall during opening night of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular on November 15, 2016, in New York City. Photo by Mike Pont / Getty Images

The second annual Pollstar Concert Market Rankings reflect 2022’s record-setting box office success at venues throughout the U.S., but market performance for the year varies with both rises and falls in contrast to 2021. The level of year-to-year movement in ranking also differs substantially from the dramatic to the subtle, depending on many factors including size and popularity as a live event destination.

Among the top 100 markets in 2022 (see chart HERE), some saw dynamic jumps – like Boston landing at No. 6 after moving up 16 positions, Seattle-Tacoma rising 10 positions to No. 9 or Austin taking No. 22 after a leap of 14. Yet those are the only three markets in the top 25 that saw a position change greater than eight. And, of those top 25 markets, 19 moved five positions or less compared to the previous year.

However, of the remaining 75 markets, only 18 remained within five positions of their 2021 ranking. Far more saw double-digit movement including substantial jumps of 30 positions or more. Among those are Knoxville (No. 41) with a 56-position bounce over 2021 and Greensboro-Winston Salem (No. 40) and Providence-New Bedford (No. 52), both with increases of more than 40 positions. Meanwhile, Missoula (No. 96) dropped 45 slots, while both Harrisburg-York-Lancaster (No. 65) and Ft. Smith (No. 83) fell 30 positions.

Thus, there appears to have been more stability at the top from one year to the next with the return to consistent, pre-pandemic levels of live activity seemingly more pronounced in larger cities. Box office reporting was also probably a factor this year. While there was strong reporting across the board, perhaps venues in some markets took longer to return to pre-2020 norms when reporting box office figures.

The Top 100 includes 11 markets that did not rank last year, the highest among them Green Bay-Appleton at No. 68 with $15.2 million in grosses. Following are Spokane (No. 73), Huntsville-Decatur (No. 74) and Des Moines (No. 77).

Nielsen’s DMA (designated market area) rankings, measuring media consumption through television outlets in metropolitan centers and their outlying areas, are again included on the chart as they were last year. The 2022 rankings are similar to 2021’s, with no more than a variance of five positions either up or down in 97 of the 100 markets.

Most of the largest markets on our chart rank almost in tandem with their DMA rank, like the three largest U.S. cities: New York, Los Angeles and Chicago at Nos. 1, 3 and 4.
But, there are several markets that, as live event destinations, outperform their DMA placement – Las Vegas being the most obvious, ranked second overall on the chart but with a DMA rank of 40.

Although it has the 25th largest population in the U.S., Las Vegas is ranked on our chart between the largest and second largest cities. But there is no question that its position as an entertainment destination is unique and unparalleled, so its ranking at No. 2 is not surprising. After all, last year Las Vegas ranked No. 1 with $197.2 million in grosses from basically half a year of live events.

Nashville and Austin, also significant live event centers, have a similar situation. Nashville is ranked No. 12 overall but with the 29th DMA ranking, while Austin, at No. 22, scores a DMA rank of 39.

2023 Pollstar Concert Market Rankings Chart

CMR Top 10 Hub