The Golden Age Continues: Three-Year Highs In Q1 For Top 100 Tours, All Venues; Coldplay Has Top Tour

Memories: Chris Martin of Coldplay performs at Optus Stadium on Nov. 18, 2023, in Perth, Australia.
Photo by Matt Jelonek / WireImage

By Bob Allen & Andy Gensler
Since 2023 ended with record-setting, double-digit box-office increases at almost every level of the industry, following 2022’s industry high-water mark, anticipation for Q1 2024’s numbers is high. At stake is whether the astronomical growth reflected in 2023’s data would continue apace or would there be a course correction in light of a soft economy, years of relatively high inflation, growing consumer debt, a glut of tours and festivals and perhaps a generation of TikTok shut-ins who may never know the value of live?

While totals from one quarter do not necessarily define a year, the box-office success presented in Pollstar’s first quarterly recap of 2024 may bring solace to many, with the data indicating continued growth for the live industry in the months ahead.

In an analysis of worldwide grosses and tickets sold in Q1 by the Top 100 Tours, 2024’s box-office totals are significantly higher than those accumulated by the top 100 during the first quarter in both 2023 and 2022. In fact, the total of the Top 100 Tours in the first quarter grew by 35% year-over-year from $926.3 million to $1.252 billion in 2024, topping the billion-dollar mark for the first time in a Q1.

Also for the first time, gross averages surpassed the one million mark with an average of $1,169,455 per show. That tops the $827,756 average last year by 41% as well as 2022’s average gross of $659,293 by an enormous 77%.

Once again, vigorous ticket pricing is the primary factor, as is typically the case in recent quarterly charts. The average ticket price for Q1, in fact, is at an all-time high of $123.25 for the Top 100 Tours, beating out last year’s $94.06 and 2022’s slightly higher $95.63.
Along with grosses, the average number of tickets sold by the Top 100 Tours is also at a three-year high, with 9,488 tickets sold per show, an increase of 7.8% over the 8,800 sold-ticket average for 2023’s top 100. It is considerably higher, however, than the average number of sold tickets in 2022 that totaled 6,894 per show.

This year, the Q1 timeframe for chart eligibility was Nov. 16, 2023 through Feb. 14, 2024, and the charts were compiled about a month after the cut-off date to allow time for more data to be reported. Yet, box-office reporting continues as the year progresses, and those quarterly totals invariably grow over time. Data added throughout the year can be substantial for Q1 since there is more time to send reports before year-end figures are finalized. Last year’s total gross grew by more than 50% over the course of the 2023 chart year.

Q1 charts ranking the top-grossing arenas, theaters and clubs all had increases in a year-to-year comparison. The top 100 arenas saw worldwide grosses hit $1.05 billion for Q1, topping 2023’s $613 million.

Individual venue totals were a major contributing factor, as this year’s top arena, Sphere in Las Vegas, racked up $95.2 million for the quarter, while last year’s No. 1 venue, New York’s Madison Square Garden, had a $41.2 million gross for Q1 2023. From the top five buildings alone, grosses total $255 million this year, compared to $128 million in 2023. Likewise, the top 50 arenas grossed $868 million this year – 83% of the top 100 – and $484 million one year ago.

The gross from the top 50 theaters in Q1 is $410.3 million compared to $254.5 million last year, with totals from Radio City Music Hall’s annual “Christmas Spectacular” making a huge impact on the results. The New York venue is No. 1 this year with about 95% of its $114.6 million gross coming from the holiday event. Yet, even without Radio City’s totals, this year’s overall theater gross still shows a double-digit jump of 18% compared to the same number of venues in 2023.

Among the top 50 clubs, the 2024 increase over the previous year is 34% with a Q1 gross of $54.8 million compared to last year’s $41 million. The Paramount in Huntington, New York, was No. 1 in both years, but reported $2.6 million in sales last year and $3.4 million in 2024.

The performers on the Worldwide Top 100 Artists chart are a diverse lineup of headliners with Coldplay topping the list at No. 1. The band racked up $100.5 million at 13 performances of the “Music of the Spheres World Tour” during Q1. Now in its final year, with 43 stadium dates remaining through November and a $6.1 million gross average per show, Coldplay’s “Sphere Tour” is a quiet juggernaut that could potentially be the first band to cross the $1 billion threshold in global concert grosses on a single tour — with Taylor Swift the first singular artist — and have one of the highest ticket sales of all time (see story on Coldplay’s “Music Of The Spheres World Tour” here).

U2 ranks second overall based on $95.2 million from the 16 performances that land in the Q1 timeframe during the band’s historic Las Vegas “U2:UV Achtung Baby Live” residency at Sphere.

Meanwhile Madonna is third with $86.2 million from 31 multi-night performances at 17 venues on “The Celebration Tour.” The pop legend, who some seem to continuously underestimate, is the highest-ranked woman on the Q1 chart.

Luis Miguel, the Mexican crooning legend, follows at No. 4 with an $84.4 million haul from more than a half-million sold seats at 29 Latin American concerts, primarily set in stadiums (see story on Luis Miguel here).

Then, rounding out the top five is SEVENTEEN with $61.5 million at the box office from 16 shows on the K-pop group’s “Follow Tour.”