Halfway into 2015, the picture couldn’t be brighter in the concert industry, as midyear box office results point to a possible record year in the live music business.
Concert industry tracking publication Pollstar reports that fans bought a record 18.8-million tickets for the top 100 grossing tours of North America for a combined take of $1.43 billion during the first six months of this year. That’s a 39% increase over the same period last year in terms of revenue and a 15% increase over the midyear record set during the first half of the 2013.
The Rolling Stones are at the top of the heap in earnings, pulling in $80.7 million with just 10 shows on the group’s Zip Code Tour.
But Garth Brooks is No. 1 in terms of tickets sold, with fans snapping up 1.2-million tickets to his first tour in 17 years, almost triple the Stones’ total sales of 452,041. Brooks' shows generated $79.9 million in box office revenue, which falls just behind the Stones because of the drastic difference in average ticket prices.
The average price for Stones' tickets was a whopping $178.44, compared with $66.23 for Brooks' 74 performances in 13 cities, easily the cheapest ticket among the top 10 grossing tours.
Fleetwood Mac’s reunion tour with long-absent member Christine McVie ranks third in Pollstar’s list at $65.9 million from 41 shows in 40 cities. Country superstar Kenny Chesney is fourth at $55.8 million, followed by U2 at $40.3 million.
The rest of the midyear top 10 for North America: Maroon 5 ($39.8 million), Neil Diamond ($37.7 million), Taylor Swift ($35.6 million), Elton John ($29.8 million) and Bette Midler ($28.2 million).
If there’s an area of concern for the industry's boom numbers it’s that the results fall back to a model of heritage acts dominating the box office. In recent years, several younger performers have made inroads into the upper reaches of the top-grossing tour rankings, suggesting that there will be another generation to take over when (and if) the '60s and '70s rock veterans retire.
But so far this year, Swift and Maroon 5 are the only acts that established careers roughly in the past decade to finish in the top 10.
In worldwide earnings, teen heartthrob band One Direction leads the pack with $107.7 million during the first half of the year. Fleetwood Mac is No. 2 globally with a gross of $92 million, followed by the Stones ($80.7 million), Brooks ($79.9 million) and Paul McCartney ($64.5 million) rounding out the top five.