2023 Year-End Business Analysis: The Great Return Becomes Historic Golden Age

By Andy Gensler and Bob Allen

"Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour" Concert Movie World Premiere
Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and Taylor Swift attend the “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” Concert Movie World Premiere at AMC The Grove 14 on Oct. 11, 2023 in Los Angeles. The artists had the two highest grossest tours of the year. (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images for TAS)

2023 was a colossus, the likes of which the live industry has never before seen. If 2022 was a historic record-setting year, which it was, then this year completely blew it out of the water— by double digits. Total grosses for the 2023 Worldwide Top 100 Tours were up 46% to $9.17 billion from $6.28 billion the year previous; average grosses were up a whopping 53.2% to $2.37 million per show from $1.54 million. Attendance increases were less dramatic but still significant: Total ticket sales were up 18.4% from 59 million to 70 million; and average tickets per show were up 24.25% from 14,570 to 18,103. Somewhat expected, average ticket prices increased 23.33% from $106.07 to $130.81.

Taylor Swift Sets All-Time Touring Record
With $1 Billion Gross

The growth trends in North American box-office were similarly impressive. Grosses for the top 100 North American tours topped out at $6.63 billion, a 39.5% rise over 2022. The survey’s average gross crossed the $2 million threshold for the first time, hitting $2.04 million, a massive increase of 54.85% over 2022. Tickets sold in the U.S., Canada and Mexico hit 48.8 million, a 14% increase, while average attendance nearly doubled that rising 27% to 15,008 per show. Average ticket price increased 21.9% over 2022, totaling $135.88 from $111.49.

What all of this means is massive increases for a large swath of this industry and a confluence of factors coalescing to create 2023’s wildfire growth.


Clearly, propelling this record-setting year to stratospheric heights were blockbuster tours. The top three treks individually were juggernauts by themselves; together, they eclipsed the sun. Taylor Swift’s “Eras Tour,” Beyoncé’s “Renaissance Tour” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Springsteen and E Street Band 2023 Tour” accounted for more than a a fifth (21.8%) of the Top 100 Worldwide grosses, coming in at nearly $2 billion.

Swift’s gargantuan $1,039,263,762 gross in 60 stadiums set an all-time record and is the first tour ever to cross the 10-digit threshold. At the same time, Beyoncé grossed $580 million in 56 shows, surpassing Bad Bunny’s massive chart-topping 2022 haul of $393 million gross and also shattering his calendar year record of $435 million. In any other year, Beyoncé would beat all comers and top the charts. Bruce, who had the third-highest gross at $379.5 million, also had a relatively low average ticket price at $109.62, which was close to the lowest in the top ten (The Weeknd took that honor at $100 per ducat).

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It’s notable — and an extremely positive sign for this industry — that for the first time in 15 years (when Madonna and Celine topped the worldwide tours chart in 2008) that two women, including a woman of color, had the year’s top grosses. The duo not only smashed the glass ceiling but created a more inclusive roof in their wake.

The rest of the top 25 artists on the Worldwide Top 100 Tours also represent a generational and genre diversity, relatively speaking. Beyond the always biggest genre of pop (Coldplay, Harry Styles, P!NK, Ed Sheeran, Jonas Brothers, Elton John), making their way to the top of the charts is country (Morgan Wallen, George Strait, Luke Combs and Shania Twain), Latin (Karol G, RBD and Luis Miguel), hip-hop/urban/R&B (Drake and The Weeknd) and rock (Eagles, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Guns ‘N Roses, U2, blink-182 and Dead & Co). It was not long ago that industry was asking itself who could replace boomer stadium rock acts? The answer is potentially anyone from any genre.

Looking at larger live industry revenue trends from 2015 to today (chart above), a clear part of the wind beneath the live industry’s wings in the last two years was deprivation. While the industry saw steady incremental yearly growth following 2008-9’s Great Recession, it began flattening by 2019, before dropping in a pandemic sinkhole.

But oh how absence makes the live music fans’ hearts grow fonder. When the live industry spigot fully turned back on in 2022, it gushed. Some businesses found themselves flatfooted and the oft-heard analogy of “drinking from a firehose” become cliché. Amidst surging demand, this industry faced down staffing shortages, supply chain holdups, limited transportation and accommodations and traffic challenges. This was exacerbated by a brutal inflationary economy that in 2022 hit 6.5%.

Bruce Springsteen Performs At BST Hyde Park Festival 2023
Bruce Springsteen and Jake Clemons (L) perform live at BST Hyde Park Festival 2023 at Hyde Park on July 06, 2023 in London, England. Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band ranked No. 3 on Pollstar’s Year End Worldwide chart (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)

As the industry turned the corner, into 2023, the winds turned gale force with many major tours — including Bad Bunny, Elton John, Ed Sheeran, Harry Styles, Coldplay, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Weeknd, Daddy Yankee, Eagles, Rolling Stones, George Strait, Karol G and Guns N’ Roses — continuing their runs. This in addition to new mega tours like Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, Bruce Springsteen, P!NK, Drake, RBD and Luke Combs launching. But when 2023 rolled around, the industry was operationally more prepared having made necessary adjustments for 2022’s onslaught without ramping down. Inflation thankfully dropped to a more manageable 3-4% range, which certainly added to the economic crunch, but didn’t impede consumer demand.

Last Nov. 9, Michael Rapino, President and CEO of Live Nation, addressed Liberty Media’s annual investor meeting and laid out the live industry’s success in macroeconomic terms. He explained that his company “delivers scarcity” and invoked the success of Bad Bunny, who might have 150 million followers, but may have only 3 million tickets to sell. “In our business,” Rapino said, “we don’t actually create the demand, the demand gets created and then we sell the demand.” That demand has driven the world’s largest promoter to record highs, with its year-over-year Q3 revenue jumping 36% to $16.9 billion.

In 2023, that demand for scarcity went global as international returned full-bore. In 2022, Europe was still emerging from pandemic restrictions, coping with the economic fallout of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, rising energy costs and brutal inflation, which in the U.K. hit 11.1% as recent as October 2022, a 41-year high. This year, though, with the economy stabilized and the global market unshackled, major tours swept through Europe, South America, Asia, Oceania and beyond with tours by Beyoncé, Springsteen, Harry Styles, Coldplay, Ed Sheeran, The Weeknd and P!NK crossing oceans.


Also in 2023, all five venue levels — stadiums, arenas, amphitheaters, theaters and clubs — saw double-digit growth on Pollstar’s top venue chart, especially stadiums, which saw a 35% increase and arenas which increased 38%.

Grosses from the top 100 stadiums surged 35% from $2.68 billion last year to $3.62 billion this year based on a sold-ticket total of 29.1 million, up 22% over last year. Grosses at the top 200 arenas worldwide reached a whopping $6.18 billion from a ticket tally of 66.9 million, a 29% rise over 2022.

For the top 200 theaters, 2023 box-office figures were 29% higher than last year and 21% more in ticket sales. Revenue reached $2.11 billion, while final attendance for the year totaled 27.8 million. For outdoor amphitheaters, the top 100 venues grossed $979.5 million which beats the 2022 gross by 20%. Ticket sales at sheds see a 21% increase over last year, totaling 15.3 million in 2023.

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The top 200 clubs, which grossed $410.1 million, saw a 26% increase over last year. The 16% increase in sold tickets, though, represents the most moderate increase over 2022 totals in any of the venue metrics. The final ticket count reported from clubs around the world lands just over 10 million.

While those numbers are good news for the club sector, there are still some independent clubs who find themselves struggling. Up against a glut of options in the marketplace, rising costs, limited budgets and staffing shortages, some are still not making ends meet.

For the larger buildings, though, 2023 by every available metric was record-setting by large margins. Much like last year, many of 2023’s biggest tours will continue to sail into 2024, including runs by Taylor Swift, Coldplay, Bruce Springsteen, Eagles, P!NK, Drake, Travis Scott, blink-182, Jonas Brothers, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ed Sheeran and Metallica, among others, including U2’s final Sphere dates.

Meanwhile, new treks by The Rolling Stones, Green Day, Foo Fighters, Maroon 5, Limp Bizkit, The 1975, IDLES, Carrie Underwood, Dan + Shay, Brett Young, Don Omar, Pepe Aguilar, Laura Pausini, Air, Hozier, Noah Kahan and rescheduled Madonna dates are on the books. While it’s unclear if the industry and the economy can sustain this kind of torrid pace, one thing’s for certain: It’ll be a wild ride. Hold onto your hat!