Five Late Registrants, Four Runner-Ups & A Gold Medalist: Meet Spain’s Top 2024 Touring Artists

Manuel Carrasco's Concert To Kick Off The 'corazon Y Flecha' Tour
Manuel Carrasco holds the Spanish attendance record, set in 2022 at the Estadio de La Cartuja in Seville. Her returned with the “Corazon y Flecha” last year (pictured), performing to 140,000 people across two nights, June 2-3, 2023. (Photo By Maria Jose Lopez / Europa Press / Getty Images)

Spain’s live business is flourishing with its nearly 48 million inhabitants’ unbridled enthusiasm for live pushing its industry to one of its best years on record. The artists bringing the multitudes to clubs, arenas, stadiums, and green fields are led by homegrown talent, with eight of the top 10 tours, when ranked by ticket sales reported to Pollstar between April 1, 2023 and March 31, 2024, calling Spain their place of origin.

They’re mostly seasoned veterans of the game (literally), bonafide stars in Spain and beyond, who for decades have been earning their stripes as career musicians. And while they’re already established and commercially successful career artists, in 2024 Spanish audiences were more determined than ever to support these artists who for decades have been a consistent part of their life.

Manuel Carrasco led the charge this year, with 366,217 tickets sold. Carrasco, who hails from Isla Cristina, rose to fame as the runner-up on the second season of Spanish reality TV talent show “Operación Triunfo” in 2002-03. He holds the Spanish attendance record for his June 11, 2022 concert at Estadio de La Cartuja in Seville, which grossed $2,926,936 on 74,345 tickets, according to Pollstar Boxoffice reports. He sold out the stadium once again a year later, at a slightly smaller capacity, but twice, selling 140,000 tickets and grossing $5,529,091.

Ranking second is Melendi, from Oviedo, Asturias, who traded an early career as a soccer player for one as a musician. He still got a major career boost from sports, when the Vuelta a España, the Spanish equivalent of the Tour de France, chose his song “Con La Luna Llena” (“With the Full Moon”) as its official theme in 2004. Melendi’s most recent Boxoffice reports include 12,728 tickets sold at the Recinto Ferial in Tenerife, Spain, March 23 grossing $585,013; and two sold-out nights at the Palau Sant Jordi just before Christmas, Dec. 22-23, 2023, selling 32,753 at a $1,922,438 gross.

Joaquin Sabina Bids Farewell To His 'contra Todo Pronostico' Tour At Madrid's Wizink Center
Joaquin Sabina performing at WiZink Center, Dec. 20, 2023 in Madrid, Spain. Pictured is the second of two concerts, which brought his “Contra todo pronostico” (“Against all odds”) tour – a fitting name because of what happened at the same venue on Feb. 12, 2020, the day of his 71st birthday, when Sabina suffered a serious fall during his performance. (Photo By Ricardo Rubio/Europa Press via Getty Images)

Joaquin Sabina is the poet of this year’s charts. Starting out as a kid, in a band imitating American rock pioneers like Elvis and Chuck Berry, he became a revolutionary in university. He was forced to flee the country to avoid persecution from Francisco Franco’s government after throwing a Molotov cocktail into a government building. Sabina exiled in London, where he started writing songs and performing in pubs. Lore has it that George Harrison was celebrating his birthday at one of Sabina’s concerts, and tipped him five quid, which Sabina keeps to this day.

Since returning to Spain after the end of Franco’s dictatorship in 1975, Sabina has sold millions of albums. He had his first No. 1 in Spain in 1980, “Pongamos que hablo de Madrid”
(“Let’s say I’m talking about Madrid”) from his second album Malas Compañías (Bad Companies). Sabina received the Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2021. His most recent Pollstar Boxoffice reports are two nights at WiZink Center in the Spanish capital of Madrid, where he received the Gold Medal of Madrid from the Mayor in 2009. On his most recent return, Dec. 18 and 20, he sold 23,689 tickets, grossing $1,877,519 – fueling the 230,415 tickets that place him third on this year’s Spain chart.

Another act in the Top 10 that’s received municipal honors of sorts is Marea, a rock band formed in Berriozar, Navarre, in 1997, where, 20 years later, a town square was named after them. They recorded their first album under the band name La Patera (the Spanish word for a little boat), calling the album Marea (Flood). When they went to register the name, they were told that it had already been registered by another group. So, they decided to call the group Marea, and the album La patera. The album, with eight tracks and released by RCA, was supported by a tour with Reincidentes from Seville. It marked the start of a long-lasting career culminating in an almost completely sold-out Spanish tour in 2023, selling a total 175,505 tickets, grossing $6,518,887.

David Bisbal ranks sixth, with 141,571 tickets reported, a tally that includes 15,210 tickets sold for a $1,037,350 gross at WiZink Center, Dec. 6; a sold-out Polideportivo Miribilla in Bizkaia, Oct. 7 (6,588 tickets, $334,640 gross); and two nights at Plaza De Toros De La Maestranza in Seville, Sept. 6-7 (5,822 tickets, $452,529 gross). Bisbal does similar numbers in all of Latin America.

Fun fact: like Manuel Carrasco, Bisbal first gained his initial fame as runner-up on “Operación Triunfo,” only a year earlier in the opening season. All of his eight studio albums reached No. 1 in Spain, and earned him multiple platinum awards along the way, as well as three Latin Grammys.

Aitana performing at WiZink Center, Dec. 5, 2023. The singer, songwriter, and actress from Barcelona moved 15,426 tickets that night, grossing $1,010,332. (Photo by Manu Pasik / WiZink Center)

In terms of ticket sales, Aitana is close on Bisbal’s heels, with 135,504 reported to Pollstar. Aside from two WiZink Center dates Nov. 6-7, and one more Dec. 5 (45,921 tickets,
$3,007,614 gross), she also sold out Estadio La Cartuja de Sevilla Oct. 28, 2023 (19,205 tickets, $1,061,957 gross), and two Palau Sant Jordis shows Oct. 12-13 (33,793 tickets,
$1,918,929 gross), all promoted by GTS Live.

Aitana, who hails from Barcelona, was the runner-up on the ninth season of “Operación Triunfo” in 2017-18, and actually recorded her first No. 1 while competing on the show, “Lo Malo” featuring Ana Guerra, a fellow contestant. Her debut studio album, Spoiler (2019), immediately gained her a Latin Grammy nomination, and her early live tours through Spain were successful from the start – at least since Pollstar has been receiving her box office reports, the first one being July 1, 2021, at Pedralbes Gardens in Barcelona, an in-house promotion: 1,788 tickets, all sold for a $122,835 gross. Scrolling forward, it’s clear Aitana didn’t skip a step, slowly and consciously building capacities. By the summer of 2021, she was performing in buildings of a 3,000 to 4,000 capacity. By the end of the year, she was selling out WiZink Center and Palau Sant Jordi.

Ranking eighth is Pablo López from Málaga, the fourth “Operacion Triunfo” runner-up on this chart. The last Pollstar Boxoffice entry contributing to his total of 128,740 tickets comprises two concerts, March 22-23, at the Palacio De Congresos in Granada, Spain, selling 3,594 tickets for a $184,870 gross. López performs in much smaller capacities than any of the artists mentioned above.

The largest crowd he drew in the reporting period was 10,251 at the Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona, May 12, 2023, grossing $438,391; 8,423 tickets at Parque Enrique Tierno Galvan in Madrid, June 11, 2023, ($384,977); and 5,764 tickets at Plaza De Toros in Murcia ($235,188). That’s three out of 50 reports in the relevant period, which proves that a dedicated touring strategy can place you among the stars, even if your numbers aren’t in the same stratosphere. He also makes the case that one doesn’t need to win the famous Spanish reality TV talent show to make it in the biz, as none of the winners are to be found on our charts.

On the contrary, even Lola Indigo, who ranks ninth on the chart, was a contestant on that show (in the same season as Aitana) and was the first to be eliminated. She immediately got a Universal Music deal and released “Ya No Quiero Ná” (“I Don’t Want Anything Anymore”) in 2018, a triple-platinum certified smash hit in Spain, even if it never reached No. 1 on the singles chart. Lola Indigo also features on a song with Aitana, “Me Quedo” (“I’m Staying”), released in 2019. The same year, she won a MTV Europe Music Award for Best Spanish Act. Boxoffice highlights from the reporting period include 11,102 tickets across two shows at Palacio de Deportes in Granada, Oct. 21-22, grossing $434,506; a sold-out Pistas de Atletismo Fuente de la Nina in Guadalajara, Sept. 16 (8,008 tickets for a $56,873 gross, seeing that tickets were $5-$10 for this in-house promotion); and 14,962 tickets at WiZink Center, May 6, grossing $478,041.

Completing the Top 10 are The Weeknd, who ranked 10th (108,585 tickets, $10.418.367 gross), and Coldplay at No. 4 (224,761 tickets, $27,262,896 gross), making them the clear leaders when ranked by gross. Those impressive numbers were generated across four shows at Barcelona’s Estadi Olimpic De Montjuic Lluis Companys, May 24-28, 2023.

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