Bon Jovi tops the 2010 tour list, followed by AC/DC, U2 and Lady Gaga


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The concert business was hit in 2010 by some of the same tough economic times that have been gripping other factions in the music industry in recent years, but New Jersey rock group Bon Jovi has reason to pop the Champagne anyway.

The band posted the highest grossing concert tour of the year not only in North America, but across the globe, topping the $200-million mark worldwide, according to figures released Tuesday by Pollstar, the concert-tracking publication.


Bon Jovi posted total concert revenue of $201.1 million, a little over half that figure -- $108.2 million -- from the North American dates on its world tour.

Behind the group on Pollstar’s worldwide ranking is AC/DC with gross ticket sales of $177 million, followed in the top 5 by U2 ($160.9 million), Lady Gaga ($133.6 million) and Metallica ($110.1 million).

Looking only at North American tour numbers, Roger Waters and his remounting of Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’ was second to Bon Jovi with a tour gross of $89.5 million, followed by the Dave Matthews Band ($72.9 million), Canadian pop crooner Michael Bublé ($65.7 million) and the Eagles ($64.5 million).

The big guns, however, couldn’t bring up the entire concert business over last year’s numbers. The top 50 North American tours combined for an overall take of $1.69 billion, down about 15% from $1.99 billion in 2009. The story was only marginally better throughout the world, where the top 50 total tour gross of $2.93 billion was off about 12% from $3.34 billion a year earlier.

Numbers were down almost across the board: total ticket sales dropped 12% in North America, from 29.9 million in 2009 to 26.2 million last year, and decreased 7% worldwide, from 45.3 million in 2009 to 38.3 million in 2010.

The only increase reported by Pollstar was in the average ticket price worldwide, which went up by $2.86 per ticket, or about 4%. Tickets in North America actually dropped by about $1.55 or 2%. Even Bon Jovi’s field-leading $108.2 million for North America was the lowest figure in recent years for the No. 1 spot. The record high belongs to the Rolling Stones, who took in $162 million on their 2005 ‘A Bigger Bang’ tour.


‘Artists worked fewer shows in a tough business climate and those that overreached suffered the consequences,’ Pollstar editor Gary Bongiovanni said in a statement that accompanied the numbers. ‘In general, the international concert business was stronger than in North America, where overbooked and overpriced shows at outdoor amphitheater venues made it an especially difficult year for Live Nation,’ a reference to the world’s largest concert promoter.

Former Beatle Paul McCartney has received consistent praise for his stamina, still typically delivering three-hour performances while touring at age 68. But he generally worked fewer nights for more money than most of his peers. His average gross of $3.86 million per night over 21 dates in 2010, and an average ticket price of $138.49, gave him the highest per-concert average in North America, followed by Bon Jovi ($2.85 million), Waters ($2.49 million), Alejandro Fernandez ($2.4 million) and Elton John-Billy Joel ($1.97 million).

Popularity-wise, however, Dave Matthews Band reigned, selling 1.27 million tickets in North America for the year. Bon Jovi was second with 1.18 million, Justin Bieber with 987,000, John Mayer with 894,000 and Brad Paisley with 880,000.

Rounding out the top 10 grossing North American tours were McCartney, who took in $61.8 million over 42 shows in 38 cities. Lady Gaga finished No. 7 with total ticket sales of $51 million, followed by the James Taylor-Carole King ‘Troubadour’ reunion tour that nipped at Gaga’s 6-inch spiked heels with a $50.7 million total gross, the Black Eyed Peas at $50.5 million and singer-songwriter guitarist John Mayer at No. 10 with $49.9 million.

Bublé also performed well around the world, finishing at No. 6 behind Metallica with $104.2 million, the ‘Walking With Dinosaurs’ animatronics tour ($104.1 million), McCartney ($93 million), the Eagles (92.3 million) and Waters ($89.5 million).

‘Walking With Dinosaurs’ attracted more patrons than any other tour, logging almost 2.06 million visitors. But the spectacle’s overall gross finished farther down the list because the average ticket price was a comparatively modest $50.56.


Billboard’s concert business rankings, which cover a slightly different, non-calendar year -- Nov. 22, 2009-Nov. 20, 2010 -- and factor in worldwide tour revenues, also place Bon Jovi at the top of the heap, with a gross during that period of $146.5 million from sales of nearly 1.59 million tickets.

The rest of the magazine’s top five touring acts were largely consistent with Pollstar’s, with the No. 2 slot taken by U2 ($131.5 million, 1.31 million tickets), then AC/DC ($122.6 million, 1.16 million tickets), Lady Gaga ($116.2 million, 1.36 million tickets) and Black Eyed Peas ($81.6 million, 1.26 million tickets). U2 scored its penultimate finish with only 22 stadium shows, compared to 69 performances for Bon Jovi.

U2 was tops on Pollstar’s list of 2009’s biggest tours, posting $123 million and another 1.31 million tickets sold. The Irish quartet was the only act to top the $100-million mark last year, with Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band coming in second with $94.5 million, Elton John and Billy Joel’s duo tour pulling in $88 million, Britney Spears at $82.5 million and AC/DC fifth with $77.9 million.

Among Pollstar’s Top 100 North American tours, the crown for highest average ticket price of 2010 goes to Waters, who charged an average of $126.14 per ticket. That’s considerably less than last year’s high of $173.89 for Van Morrison’s ‘Astral Weeks Live’ tour.

Pollstar will release a full Top 200 early next month in its 2010 Year End Special Edition.

-- Randy Lewis

Top photo: Jon Bon Jovi led the concert word with over $200-million in concert revenue. Credit: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images.