Though nothing compares with last year’s spectacular U2 360 tour, concert business remains strong in 2012 after rebounding in 2011. Unlike recent years, there haven’t been a raft of cancellations and deep discounting because of slow sales.
“The industry took a hard look at pricing and got back to basics,” says Ray Waddell, Billboard’s senior editor for touring. “Acts that are supposed to be selling are selling.”
“Everybody has tempered their expectations, so we’re not seeing a lot of huge misses,” says Pollstar editor Gary Bongiovanni. After a disappointing 2010, “we adjusted to the new normal last year, and that has continued this year.”
According to Pollstar’s midyear analysis of the top 100 North American tours, Cirque du Soleil’s Michael Jackson: The Immortal Tour was the top-grossing act for the first six months of 2012, pulling in $78.5 million and selling 704,000 tickets. Former Pink Floyd singer/bassist Roger Waters grossed $61.9 million and sold 575,000 tickets on the final leg of his two-year The Wall Live tour, and a reunited Van Halen brought in $44.9 million, despite canceling more than 30 summer dates. The Kenny Chesney/Tim McGraw Brothers of the Sun tour, which is selling out stadiums, had grossed $33.9 million and sold 386,000 tickets through June.
With Bruce Springsteen resuming his Wrecking Ball tour and Radiohead, Coldplay and Madonna hitting the road, there will be plenty more blockbuster shows in the offing. But Waddell says the industry’s strength this summer has been successful shows in a variety of genres. Several newer country acts — among them Jason Aldean and the Zac Brown Band — are becoming major headlining acts. The same is true for hip-hop acts like Drake and Wiz Khalifa. He says there’s also a wide range of EDM (electronic dance music) acts — Avicii, Bassnectar, Skrillex and others — who now sell as concert attractions rather than party DJs.
Festivals continue to boom. Coachella, which expanded to two weekends, brought in $47.3 million. Stagecoach and Sasquatch also expanded, and Bonnaroo, Essence and Electric Daisy Carnival met or exceeded projections. Last weekend’s Lollapalooza, which attracted 270,000 last year, was sold out.
“Fans like the immersive experience,” Waddell says. “They like the value and the sense of community.”
The industry upturn has been good for the fans, who have seen average ticket prices drop $6.34 to $60.68 — the lowest since 2007.
“They’re selling tickets at a lower price but generating more money because artists are working more shows,” Bongiovanni says. “The economy is still a factor, but they’re factoring that into their goals.”
(Source: USA Today, 08/03/12)