New York Times: Bon Jovi Tops 2010 Tour Receipts


Bon Jovi was the top draw for concert audiences in 2010, a tumultuous year for the touring industry that experienced a drop in ticket grosses overall.

Bon Jovi’s tour, which began the year in support of its most recent studio album, “The Circle,” and continues on the heels of a new hits collection, had $108.2 million in ticket sales in North America, according to Pollstar, a trade publication that collects sales data from concert promoters and theaters.

Roger Waters of Pink Floyd had the No. 2 tour, with $89.5 million in ticket sales, and the Dave Matthews Band was No. 3 with $72.9 million. The singer Michael Bubl was in fourth place with $65.7 million, and the Eagles were close behind with $64.5 million.

But business was down over all. The top 50 tours in North America sold $1.69 billion in tickets, a 15 percent drop from 2009, with artists scheduling fewer shows and fire-sale pricing by promoters driving ticket revenues down.

“The economy caught up with the concert business,” said Gary Bongiovanni, Pollstar’s editor. He added that other factors contributed to a weak concert season, like the postponement of U2’s North American stadium tour to allow Bono to recuperate from back surgery.

The touring business fared a little better outside North America. Worldwide grosses for the top 50 tours were $2.93 billion, down 12 percent, Pollstar said. (Bon Jovi was tops in worldwide sales as well, with a total of $201.1 million in ticket sales.)

As record sales have shriveled over the last decade, concerts have become a major profit center for musicians, with touring grosses skyrocketing even as the number of tickets sold has declined. That formula worked as long as prices rose. In 2008, the average ticket was $67.33, a 160 percent increase from $25.81 in 1996.

But in 2009 ticket prices fell, and that decline continued in 2010, led by an aggressive markdown campaign offered by Live Nation, the biggest promoter. The average ticket for the top 50 tours in North America cost $64.74, a 2 percent decline from the year before, Pollstar said.

In January, Live Nation merged with Ticketmaster, and the combined company – Live Nation Entertainment – suffered from low attendance at many of its tours, especially at its outdoor amphitheaters, where it also profits from parking and concession income.

Michael Rapino, the president and chief executive of Live Nation Entertainment, has said that in 2011, the company will be lowering ticket prices and the guarantees it pays to artists.