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EDM affects concert biz as ticket sales sales up, prices down

July 13, 2012|By Todd Martens
  • Local DJ Steve Aoki grossed $4.5 million from touring in the first half of 2012.
Local DJ Steve Aoki grossed $4.5 million from touring in the first half of… (Lawrence K. Ho )

Concert revenue is up and ticket prices are down, as midyear touring data from industry trade Pollstar reflects a business on the rebound. The top 100 North American tours boasted a combined gross of $1,125.9 million, up 1.2% over last year's data at the halfway point.

There's even a greater increase in overall ticket sales, as 18.6 million tickets were sold, an increase of 11.3% over the same period last year. The top-grossing North American tour was one of spectacle. Cirque du Solei's "Michael Jackson: The Immortal" generated $78.5 million over 95 shows, no doubt boosted by its average ticket price of $111.48.

Behind, and the worldwide leader, was Roger Waters, whose tour of "The Wall" carried an average ticket price of $107.58 and grossed $61.9 million in North America and $158.1 million worldwide. It's also been a smashing year for festivals, and Goldenvoice's two Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festivals in the desert city of Indio generated a gross of $47.3 million, the largest ever recorded for a single concert event. 

"The concert industry appears to have made some successful adjustments to better reflect today's economic realities," reads the Pollstar report. "Simply put, ticket prices have been lowered and venues have been downsized. To make up the revenue, many artists are working more shows."

Indeed, the top 100 tours of North America visited a combined total of 2,822 cities. Compared to last year, that's an increase of 420 additional stops. Ticket sales overall are averaging $60.68. If that doesn't sound like a bargain, it's the lowest average ticket price since 2007, when the median was $58.61, and is down from $67.02 last year.

As a genre, country music acts are thriving on the road. Ten of the top 35 biggest North American tours are country artists. Kenny Chesney leads the pack, coming in at No. 4. Chesney grossed $33.9 million in just eight cities. His tickets carried an average price of $87.62, and he played to an average audience size of 48,371. 

Another sign of life is coming from EDM, short for electronic dance music. The genre, which has suddenly attracted the attention of big-name promoters, is enjoying a resurgence after flirting with the mainstream in the late '90s. Three EDM artists broke into the top 100 this year. Last year at this time only one, Tiesto, made the cut.

L.A. DJ Steve Aoki grossed $4.5 million over 88 dates with an average ticket price $32.46. At $4.1 million stood Avicii and Bassnectar grossed $3.5 million. "Even with more modest ticket prices," writes the report, "the new generation of EDM artists are starting to have a greater impact as they begin doing larger tours in more traditional arenas."

The reunited Van Halen, despite canceling a number of concert dates, finished with the third-highest gross in North America. The Pasadena-bred '70s arena rocker grossed $44.9 million with an average ticket price of $100.11.

The artists completing the top 10 were as follows: Lady Antebellum at No. 5 ($30.9 million), Drake at No. 6 ($30.2 million), Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band at No. 7 ($30 million), Elton John at No. 8 ($26 million), the Dave Matthews Band at No. 9 ($24.4 million) and Radiohead at No. 10 ($22.8 million).

Of the artists in the top 10, country trio Lady Antebellum had the lowest average ticket price, with seats going for around $43.60. John's tickets were the most expensive, with seats averaging $113.25.

L.A. newcomers Foster the People also cracked the top 100. The electro-pop band grossed $3.7 million over 23 concerts. On average, it cost $36.67 to see the band. 

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