Bruce Springsteen, thanks chiefly to the top-grossing concert tour of 2003, edges out rapper 50 Cent to top Calendar's seventh annual Ultimate Top 10, a list that combines album and concert ticket sales to show which artists U.S. pop fans spent the most money on.
The results reflect stylistic diversity at the top, from classic rock (Springsteen) to hard-core rap (50 Cent), pop (Celine Dion) and country (Toby Keith).
Springsteen's sales totaled $132.8 million during the year, the lion's share of that from concert ticket sales, which totaled $115.9 million, the year's highest-grossing North American concert tour, according to the concert industry-tracking magazine Pollstar.
He didn't have a new studio album during 2003, but a new career retrospective album and his older CDs sold 1.3 million copies during the year. At an average retail price of $13, that translated into $16.9 million at the cash register.
50 Cent, on the other hand, topped the Nielsen SoundScan year-end list of the bestselling albums with his "Get Rich or Die Tryin' " collection, which sold more than 6.5 million copies during 2003. Combining this tally with sales of his previous recordings, he generated almost $96.2 million from album sales alone. Adding $28.8 million worth of concert tickets brings his total to $125 million.
That disparity between album sales and concert ticket revenues is echoed throughout the Ultimate Top 10, continuing the recent schism between veterans who dominate the concert business and the younger acts that sell the most albums each year.
Most acts generated 70% to 80% of their totals from one arena or the other. None of the acts in Pollstar's top 10 concert tours of the year also appears in the top 10 albums roster.
Which area is more important? Seven of the acts in the top 10 of Pollstar's highest-grossing tours also made the Ultimate Top 10, while the latter list includes just three performers with albums in Nielsen SoundScan's top 10 for the year.
Springsteen and Cher are the only acts back from 2002's Ultimate Top 10, and the Boss' combined total is the lowest figure since The Times began compiling the list in 1997. That year, the Rolling Stones topped the poll with $100 million in concert and album sales. The monetary high point came with the peak of teen pop in 2000, when 'N Sync logged ticket revenue and album sales totaling $212.9 million.
Last year's Ultimate Top 10 winner, Eminem ($158.3 million), didn't tour in 2003 or release a new album. 'N Sync, the only two-time winner of the double ranking, topping the list in 2000 and 2001, was on hiatus while group member Justin Timberlake launched a solo career with his album "Justified" and went on a tour with Christina Aguilera that pulled in $31.8 million.
This year's list:
1. Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, $132.8 million. Springsteen's catalog continues to be a solid revenue source for the New Jersey rocker: Even though he didn't release a new album in 2003, "The Essential Bruce Springsteen" three-CD compilation and his older ones sold 1.3 million copies. He didn't log an excessive number of nights or miles on the concert trail, either, playing 47 shows in 30 cities. Yet with an average ticket price of a little more than $71, he wound up selling $115.9 million worth of tickets, the second highest-grossing tour ever, behind only the Rolling Stones' 1994 tour that generated $121.2 million.
2. 50 Cent, $125 million. This Eminem protege barreled out of the gate with his "Get Rich" album, not only the year's biggest seller but also holder of the record for highest first-week sales of 2003: it sold 872,000 first-week copies in February.
3. Celine Dion, $119.5 million. Dion added $39 million in album sales to the $80.5 million in ticket revenue generated at her new concert home at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, to place third overall. Average ticket price: $135.81.
4. Toby Keith, $106.6 million. The rowdy Oklahoma country singer-songwriter buried the hatchet in his public feud with the Dixie Chicks, otherwise he'd be singing "How Do You Like Me Now?" to the trio he bested by combining album sales of $62.4 million and concert ticket revenue of $44.2 million. Average ticket price: $37.95.
5. Dixie Chicks, $100.8 million. The feisty trio moved from one controversy to the next in 2003. Singer Natalie Maines got things started early in the year with a remark to an overseas audience that she felt "ashamed" that President Bush comes from her home state of Texas; several months later, after many country radio stations and fans had boycotted their music over Maines' comment, group member Martie Maguire said the Chicks would leave country music altogether. But that didn't stop them from selling $40.3 million worth of albums and an additional $60.5 million in concert tickets -- the highest-grossing country music tour ever. Average ticket price: $56.