Taylor Swift's '1989' is 2015's highest grossing concert tour by far

In the concert business, 2015 was a banner year for 1989, as Taylor Swift and her blockbuster “1989” tour topped Pollstar’s annual ranking of the most popular concert attractions globally.

Swift’s tour, featuring a bevy of different guest stars in nearly every city she visited, grossed just over $250 million worldwide. Equally significant, almost $200 million of that came from North American dates, trampling the all-time North American record of $162 million posted by the Rolling Stones in 2005, according to the concert industry tracking magazine’s preliminary top 20 tour report.



An earlier edition of this post stated that Garth Brooks sold nearly 5 million tickets in 2015, and the Rolling Stones had sold 7.8 million and U2 sold 6.9 million. Those numbers were dollar figures for those acts' average gross revenue per show. 


The 26-year-old pop star performed 83 shows in 53 cities and sold almost 2.3 million tickets during the year, Pollstar reported.

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AC/DC placed a distant second behind Swift, grossing $180 million from 54 shows in 50 cities, making it the veteran hard rock band’s most successful tour ever.

Rounding out Pollstar’s top five were One Direction, with a global gross of $158.8 million, U2 at $152.2 million, and the Foo Fighters, whose $127-million gross at the box office put the band in the year-end top 10 for the first time in its long career.

Pollstar editor Gary Bongiovanni noted that the top 20 grossing tours alone generated box office revenue of $2.2 billion on sales of more than 24 million tickets in 2015, an increase of $200 million and 4 million tickets over 2014.

Young British pop singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran also landed in the top 10 for the first time, at No. 7, his $117.3-million gross putting him right behind Fleetwood Mac’s $125.1 million on the tour for which the long-running band was joined by Christine McVie for the first time in more than 15 years.

At No. 8, country singer Kenny Chesney logged $116.4 million over the course of 57 dates, and in the first full year of his return to the concert stage, Garth Brooks landed at No. 9, with a gross of $114.9 million.

Brooks, however, grossed an average of just under $5 million per city, placing him third behind the Rolling Stones, whose shows averaged $7.8 million at just 14 stadium shows during the year, and U2, which averaged $6.9 million in the 22 stops on the group's Innocence + Experience tour.

Not surprisingly, the Stones also posted the highest average ticket price in Pollstar’s figures of $174.50, and finished at No. 10 in total box office revenue, grossing $109.7 million.

Another touring veteran from the British Invasion with a strong base among more affluent baby boomer music fans, Paul McCartney posted the second-highest average ticket price of $155.76, and placed No. 13 on the box-office revenue ranking with $77.7 million.

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The rest of Pollstar’s top 20 grossing tours were Madonna (No. 11, $88.4 million), comedian Kevin Hart (No. 12, $82.2 million), McCartney, Elton John (No. 14, $77.6 million), Disney Latin America telenova and pop star Violetta (No. 15, $76.8 million), Maroon 5 (No. 16, $72 million), Luke Bryan (No. 17, $71.8 million), Billy Joel (No. 18, $69.9 million), Shania Twain (No. 19, $69 million) and Neil Diamond (No. 20, $68 million).

Pollstar’s full report on the year’s top-grossing tours will be published in the magazine’s Jan. 8 edition.

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