Right before the end of the year, Pollstar revealed their lists for the top 50 grossing concert tours of 2010. First, the good news: rock is dominating concert’s worldwide sales. Topping both the worldwide and North American tour lists is Bon Jovi, who grossed $201.1 million in total. Also in the top five for worldwide concerts is AC/DC at #2 and Metallica at #5. The rest of the top ten was made up by elder rock acts such as U2 (#3), Paul McCartney (#8), The Eagles (#9), and Roger Waters (#10), while Lady Gaga (#4) and Michael Buble (#6) were the only current mainstream acts to appear in the top ten. This goes to show that despite mainstream radio and TV being filled with hip hop and auto-tuned pop, rock is still succeeding in one area of the music industry (or at least the older acts are).
Now here’s the bad news…the Wall Street Journal is reporting that concerts experienced large blows in 2010. Ticket sales worldwide fell 12% to $2.93 billion from $3.49 billion in 2009, while in North America sales dropped 15% to $1.69 million. Furthermore, though Bon Jovi grossed $201.1 million during their 53 city tour in 2010, that’s a deep decrease compared to 2009’s top concert grosser U2, who grossed $311 million.
Granted, the writing has been on the wall throughout year. The Summer of 2010 saw a large decline in concert sales, while Live Nation’s dismal 3rd quarter report didn’t leave much hope for improvement. To attract more concert goers in 2011, many promoters are planning to offer tickets as low as $10 to certain acts like ZZ Top with hopes to make up the money in t-shirts and vendor purchases. On the one hand, it’s a better plan than the “charge large early, offer discounts later” tactic many tours, including Ozzfest, used last Summer. But as we’ve preached before, not much improvement can be expected if the industry keeps charging fans absurd service fees and vendor costs. Sure, it’s cool that I can see ZZ Top for $10, but I’d rather not pay $25 for parking and $13 in service fees.