Every year when June arrives in Nashville and country music’s top performers congregate in Music City for the annual CMA Fest, some artists have already completed tours that launched early in the year, while others have only recently hit the road. With our annual mid-year recap just weeks away, box office figures have been flooding in for events that have taken place in 2023, highlighting the top earners at the box office and the tours that have drawn the biggest crowds during the first months of the year. And among the live industry’s top players, country artists have made their mark among the best of the year so far.
Looking at the top male and female country headliners in the opening months of 2023 based on gross averages from reported box office data, it’s the King himself, George Strait, who tops the field with a whopping average gross of $16.3 million from one performance. His May 6 concert that drew 57,843 fans to State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, was the first of six stadiums booked for the country legend this year. He will also headline stadium events at Milwaukee, Seattle, Denver, Nashville and Tampa throughout the summer.
The CMA’s reigning Entertainer of the Year, Luke Combs follows with a gross average of $5.26 million from the first nine stadiums on his world tour booked in North America, Oceania and Europe this year. The Charlotte, North Carolina, native has amassed a total gross of $47.4 million since his first stadium performance in late March. He is also averaging 52,701 sold tickets per show on the tour that has drawn 474,308 fans through his May 20 concert in Boise, Idaho.
Morgan Wallen has averaged a $3.9 million gross per show this year, based on 11 concerts reported at eight venues in Australian and American cities. Among them, two are stadiums including Milwaukee’s American Family Field where he launched the North American leg of his “One Night At A Time” world tour on April 14-15. Four are arenas – one located in Melbourne and another in Sydney – while his two most-recently reported venues are outdoor amphitheaters in Florida.
The average gross for Blake Shelton was $1.29 million based on box office reports from the 18 concerts on his “Back to the Honky Tonk” tour that ran from Feb. 16 through March 25. Kenny Chesney is right on his heels, though, with a $1.25 million average from 19 concerts at sheds and mid-sized arenas on his “I Go Back” tour.
Among country’s top female concert headliners, Shania Twain has the top gross average with $1.89 million earned at her “Queen of Me” tour’s April 29 concert. The Live Nation-produced event at Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena drew a sellout crowd of 14,460. It was the second stop on the tour that kicked off the previous day in Spokane, Washington, in support of her latest studio album, released in February.
Then with a gross average of $1.1 million from 11 reported concerts, Carrie Underwood follows with her “Denim & Rhinestones” tour. Her highest gross on the trek was $1.36 million earned Feb. 17 at Boston’s TD Garden. With 12,077 sold tickets at the event, it was her third performance on record at the arena. She previously played there in February 2016 and October 2019, moving a total of 44,555 tickets at all three.
Reba McEntire averaged more than $955,000 per show on her spring concert tour that featured support by fellow Grand Ole Opry members Terri Clark and The Isaacs. The spring run during March and April was an extension of her fall arena tour and concluded with a concert at Madison Square Garden. She performed for 9,302 fans at the New York City arena on April 15 and grossed $765,558.
“The Judds: The Final Tour” produced a gross average just less than $400,000 per show as Wynonna Judd completed the tour celebrating the legacy of the country duo in February. One of her guests, Kelsea Ballerini, grossed $117,350 at one reported solo date on her “Heartfirst” tour in March. Her headlining stint will resume later this month.