Madonna, Springsteen, Roger Waters were tops on tour in 2012

Madonna, shown on a recent tour stop in Chile, grossed just under $300 million with her MDNA tour in 2012.
(Francesco Degasperi / AFP-Getty Images)
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Madonna was queen of the world in 2012, at least as far as touring pop music performers, delivering the highest-grossing concert tour of the year and raking in nearly $300 million at the box office worldwide, according to Pollstar, the concert-industry tracking magazine.

Madonna’s MDNA tour visited 67 cities for 88 performances that grossed $296.1 million, an average of $4.4 million a night, Pollstar’s data shows. Her average ticket price was just over $140, far from the priciest concert tickets of the year.

Bruce Springsteen &; the E Street Band came in at No. 2, grossing $210.2 million from 81 shows in 66 cities on the Wrecking Ball tour. Springsteen sold more tickets than Madonna — nearly 2.3 million to her 2.1 million — but at significantly lower ticket prices. Seats for Springsteen’s shows averaged just less than $92.


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Third place went to Roger Waters with $186.4 million, making him the only act in the top 10 most lucrative tours who also made that list last year. Waters jumped up two positions from last year, selling almost 1.7 million tickets and posting an average nightly gross of nearly $3.9 million during 72 shows in 48 cities.

“Proving there is a global diversity of attractions, only 13 artists from 2011 made this year’s top 50,” Pollstar Editor Gary Bongiovanni noted in a statement accompanying the magazine’s tour report. “It is also worth noting that the global brand strength of Cirque du Soleil has never been greater, with eight different touring shows ranking on the chart.”

Coming in behind Waters, Coldplay finished at No. 4 with $171.3 million, followed by Lady Gaga in fifth place with $161.4 million.

Pollstar’s numbers are close to Billboard’s recently published year-end tour tally but reflect some notable differences. Billboard uses a slightly earlier reporting period — Nov. 9, 2011 through Nov. 13, 2012 versus Pollstar’s Jan. 1 through Dec. 31 time frame. In addition, Pollstar incorporates projections on shows not reported by promoters to provide a fuller approximation of the actual totals.

Rounding out Pollstar’s top 10 were Cirque du Soleil’s “Michael Jackson: The Immortal” tour at No. 6 (with a gross of $140.2 million), Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw’s Brothers of the Sun stadium tour (No. 7, $96.5 million), Metallica (No. 8, $86.1 million), Elton John (No. 9, $69.9 million) and the Red Hot Chili Peppers (No. 10, $57.8 million).


Chesney and McGraw logged the highest average attendance, playing to 49,336 fans on average during their summer run.

Among other intriguing statistics farther down the year-end tally: Barbra Streisand made the top 25 with 12 concert in 10 cities, thanks to an average ticket price of $263.52, giving her a $40.7 million gross and the No. 22 spot on the list.

But even those numbers pale next to the Rolling Stones, who finished at No. 33 with just five shows in three cities. As the band, which cheekily refers to itself as “world’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band,” marked its 50th anniversary in 2012, it raked in $35.5 million, which breaks down to nearly $12 million a night. The average ticket price? A whopping $529.51.

Despite that heart-stopping spike, “The average global ticket price was $85.93,”; Bongiovanni said, “;which was down 60 cents from last year but still well above the $73.83 charged in the more robust year of 2009.”

Pollstar’s figures also show a slight decline in both the total number of tickets sold for the top 50 highest-grossing shows of the year and the overall revenue generated: $3 billion from 34.9 million tickets in 2012 versus $3.07 billion and 35.5 million tickets a year earlier.

Both ticket totals are “well off the pace from 2009 when the top 50 sold 45.3 million,” Bongiovanni added.


Pollstar tracks ticket sales across the calendar year, and its annual report “includes specific sales figures for nearly 90% of all shows worked by the top attractions and projections were made for any of the unreported dates,” Bongiovanni said.

Information released late Friday offers a preview of Pollstar’s full year-end report, which will cover the top 200 highest-grossing concert tours in North America and the top 100 attractions worldwide. Those figures will appear in Pollstar’s Jan. 4 issue.


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