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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.

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FOR THE RECORD

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. 

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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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