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Top Act Of The Decade: Dave Matthews Band

04:30 PM Thursday 12/31/09 | |

Originally posted Dec. 18, 2009.

Pollstar has compiled its year-end research from 2000 to 2009 and come up with the highest-grossing touring artists of North America for the decade.

Click here to see the Top 50 chart in PDF format.

Coming in at No. 1 is touring juggernaut Dave Matthews Band, grossing nearly $530 million.

  • Dave Matthews Band

    Sprint Center, Kansas City, Mo.
    September 30, 2009

    (Jason Squires / JasonSquires.com)


Although it’s no surprise that three major Live Nation touring artists – The Rolling Stones, U2 and Madonna – are in the Top 10, the numbers favor consistent annual live outings rather than the high-grossing acts who tour every few years.

The top three – Dave Matthews Band, Celine Dion and Kenny Chesney – have performed relentlessly since at least 2003 (when Dion began her residency in Las Vegas), with DMB and Chesney filling arenas and amphitheatres the entire decade. Obvious workhorses Bruce Springsteen and Jimmy Buffett made the list as did the Energizer bunny known as Elton John, with or without his Piano Man counterpart. And, once hell thawed out, the Eagles spent much of the last 10 years filling venues.

Chip Hooper, chief of West Coast music operations at Paradigm and the longtime agent for Dave Matthews Band, was not surprised to learn his artist was the most successful touring act in North America this decade.

“Dave Matthews Band is without question the touring story of the last 10 years,” Hooper told Pollstar. “What they have accomplished is truly unprecedented. Many artists tour often, but not as consistently and not even remotely at the same level.

“Another very important point is that this band has never rested on its laurels,” he said. “Every time they approach something, whether it’s writing a song, recording a record or playing a show, they truly bring it. They never, ever let their fans down. That’s why this band is so successful. We are thrilled and proud to have the opportunity to play a role in their career.”

Manager Coran Capshaw provided a statement on behalf of Red Light Management and the band.

“Dave Matthews Band is thankful for fans old and new who've made it the top-selling live act of the decade,” Capshaw said. “DMB is a great live band, providing audiences with a unique concert experience. It's an honor to be a part of their continued success.”

Dion spent much of the decade as the centerpiece attraction of Caesars Palace in Las Vegas – a performance model that she helped pioneer. But even after she left the nightly performances at the Colosseum, Dion spent three years traveling to perform for her fans.

  • Celine Dion

    RBC Center, Raleigh, N.C.
    January 21, 2009

    (Jason Moore)


“It’s about longevity,” John Meglen, co-CEO of AEG Live / Concerts West and promoter for Dion, told Pollstar. “And it’s about a tremendous work ethic. She’s the hardest working female I’ve ever run across in the business.”

Meglen compared Dion to Neil Diamond – not just because of the work ethic but because of the effort Dion has made to perform for “everything in between” New York and Los Angeles.

“She’s attractive to middle America, middle Canada, the real people worldwide,” he said. “And she has an amazing manager in her husband who to this day blows me away. Good management today is so important. And you can see it out there with the managers we work with, whether it be Roger Davies and what he did with Tina Turner and Pink, and what we’re doing with Cher at the Colosseum, or guys like Paul Korzilius with Bon Jovi.”

“I still don’t think [Chesney] gets the recognition he deserves,” said Louis Messina, president of The Messina Group and longtime promoter of Chesney. “People almost take it for granted. You look at the top touring artists, even at the Pollstar Awards, he doesn’t even get nominated, which is a joke. Dave Matthews and Kenny Chesney – they are the workhorses of the industry."

Messina also noted that both DMB and Chesney have kept their ticket prices low. And Chesney – who even in his forthcoming “off” year is playing a good dozen huge shows – is expected to return in 2011 with an enormous tour.

“It’s something people don’t recognize, except when you tell them they’re not playing next year,” he added. “Then they all say, ‘How can you do that? It’s going to ruin my bottom line!’ I’m not sure what we’ll do next year. Maybe we’ll go sell blood or something.”

Finally, the numbers should also invalidate the argument that the concert business relies solely on headliners from the ’60s and ’70s.

With names like Dave Matthews Band, Chesney and Toby Keith – who established their careers this decade – there’s hope the next decade could produce even more new top names.

Click here for the chart in PDF format, which includes tour gross and ticket sales.

1. Dave Matthews Band
2. Celine Dion
3. Kenny Chesney
4. Bruce Springsteen
5. The Rolling Stones

  • U2

    Scott Stadium @ Univ. Of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va.
    October 1, 2009

    (John Darwin Kurc / TruantStudent.com)


6. U2
7. Madonna
8. Eagles
9. Elton John
10. Jimmy Buffett
11. Toby Keith
12. Cher
13. Elton John / Billy Joel
14. Bon Jovi
15. Metallica
16. Rascal Flatts
17. Paul McCartney
18. *NSYNC
19. Britney Spears

20. Trans-Siberian Orchestra
21. Aerosmith
22. Tim McGraw / Faith Hill
23. George Strait
24. The Police
25. Neil Diamond
26. Barry Manilow
27. Bob Dylan

  • Bob Dylan

    Marcus Amphitheater, Milwaukee, Wis.
    July 1, 2009

    (Bobby Talamine)


28. "American Idols Live"
29. "Ozzfest"
30. Rod Stewart
31. "Vans Warped Tour"
32. Van Halen

33. Fleetwood Mac
34. Brooks & Dunn
35. AC/DC
36. Coldplay
37. Eric Clapton
38. Luis Miguel
39. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

40. Nickelback
41. Dixie Chicks
42. Tim McGraw
43. Backstreet Boys
44. Brad Paisley

  • Brad Paisley

    Outside the Sommet Center, Nashville, Tenn.
    November 10, 2009

    (AP Photo)


45. Tina Turner
46. Bette Midler
47. Billy Joel
48. Barbra Streisand
49. Phish
50. James Taylor


  1. spreadhead wrote:

    04:21 PM, Feb 01, 2010

    canucount..so under your theory that the new millenium begins in 2011, that means that 1990 was in the 80's? and 1980 was in the 70's? Way to belive everything you read on wikipedia, dumba$$

  2. Johnny wrote:

    10:32 AM, Jan 08, 2010

    I happen to be a union stagehand,and out of the 50 listed, i have done gigs and seen 49 of them. Sucks to be me huh? :D

  3. canucount wrote:

    01:40 AM, Jan 05, 2010

    the list is premature. The current millenium began Jan 1, 2001 and thus the first decade of the third millenium ends Dec 31, 2010. en.wikipedia.org/.../Millennium

  4. jaredoliveira wrote:

    02:56 PM, Jan 03, 2010

    Ok, you like Bruce, but this is not someone's opinion. These are numbers. But if it were my opinion, DMB would still be on top.

  5. metsmaniac11 wrote:

    09:34 PM, Jan 02, 2010

    bruce springsteen is the best onstage performer of all time...when hes with e street hes amazing...a workhore and non-stop force...with his ability to change the setlist on the spot...take request and play songs the band has never played on the spot,,,and play for 3 hours straight without a break between sets...number 4 is an insult to him...he should be number 1 by a longshot

  6. EricD wrote:

    05:18 PM, Dec 29, 2009


    WSP took a three year hiatus after Mikey died. If they had toured those three years, I'm sure they would be on this list.

    On another note, I'm not sure why Celine Dion is even on this list. The list is for TOURING acts. A residency at a Vegas casino isn't a tour. Also, DMB didn't establish their career this decade. Their career was already well established in the 1990s.  

  7. PhillyMike wrote:

    01:29 PM, Dec 23, 2009

    I've been going to DMB shows forever and I'm sure they would be the top ticket seller for the last 10 years as well.  My 10th row fan club tix were always relatively low for "big band" stuats; usually $55 or so.  The past two years they have been increased to about $70 for the best seats.  The fact that they do a summer tour from early May through end of September/October every year with abbreviated spring and/or winter tours, the $$$ amounts are reached by always being on the road and always selling out the venues.  The Stones have toured 2x this decade and charged something like $200 face or the best tix.

  8. jammasterf wrote:

    01:25 PM, Dec 23, 2009

    DMB has sold the most tickets, they are at the top of the list with 11.6 million, three million ahead of the next lowest leader.

  9. Megatwan wrote:

    01:25 PM, Dec 23, 2009

    @ Roswellite13

    1. DMB- $529.1 million-$51.34

    2. Celine Dion- $522.1 million-$106.70

    3. Kenny Chesney- $434.4-$68.73

    4. Rolling Stones- $426.9

    5. Bruce Sprinsteen- $416.4-$87.59

    6. U2 (their NA dates)- $390.9-$93.77

    7. Madonna- $325.4

    8. The Eagles- $313.2-$129.30

    9. Elton John- $288.1-$126.04

    10 Elton/ Billy Joel- $262.6

    look whos cheapest before you open ur mouf imo

  10. Roswellite13 wrote:

    06:17 AM, Dec 21, 2009

    Since this is all about business and not the fans, $$$ is the only thing that matters.  More important to me is who sold the most tickets.  Attendance is the biggest indicator of the biggest artist.  Hell, someone could sell 1 ticket for $1 Billion dollars and be the artist of the decade according to this article.

  11. squidpanic wrote:

    08:05 PM, Dec 20, 2009

    How is it possible widespread panic is not on the list?  Very Phishy

  12. Studebaker Hawk wrote:

    07:38 PM, Dec 20, 2009

     As Frank Zappa said about the future of modern music,"Go down to H & R Block and talk to the tax guy down there and ask him what bands he likes.Whatever he's listening to are pry the future big acts.Its all just business."