Pollstar estimates the size of the North American concert industry at $6.2 billion. That’s a sizeable increase over past years in recognition that the increasing number of festivals are having a major impact on the industry as it evolves.
Music has never been more popular or important than it is in today’s world where many people carry connections to their entire music collection in their pocket.
The conundrum is that while the public’s consumption of music has never been greater, the ability of artists to monetize that demand has been in a steep decline. Digital sales and streaming revenues have not come close to replacing the reduced income from recording and publishing. Eventually there will be a new economic model that works for everyone, but until then the artist community will have to rely on the growing revenues from live performances to make a living. And that’s a good thing for the concert business.
Pollstar estimates the size of the North American concert industry at $6.2 billion. That’s a sizeable increase over past years in recognition that the increasing number of festivals, many of which are not reported, are having a major impact on the industry as it evolves.
Business Analysis (includes charts and graphics)
Worldwide Ticket Sales Charts
The single biggest change to the concert industry landscape has been the increasing proliferation of large multi-day music festivals. In the past only a handful of the largest festivals would have announced dates by the start of the year and virtually none would have announced talent line-ups or gone on sale.
Pollstar published its 2015 Global Festival Calendar in December and listed more than 1,500 confirmed events in 70 countries. That would not have been possible just a few years ago but now everyone seems to be trying to get out in front of the crowd. The first week of January has seen a dozen major festival announcements, on-sales, and line-ups for events that stretch into Q4.
The global festival market is approaching saturation as everyone fights to book the same limited pool of artists over an expanding array of events. While the festival business has been generally strong, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a bloody market correction that weeds out the weaker festivals with marginal sites. With so many festivals eager to write big checks for headliners, the very manner in which many tours are booked has radically changed. Instead of festival dates being squeezed into tour routing, many artist tours are routed first between festival dates and then filled in with solo headline dates.
One Direction had a phenomenal year and proved it was the biggest act on the planet in 2014 with a worldwide gross of $282.2 million as they played in front of more than 3.4 million fans. No other act comes close in either dollars or attendance. The group also easily topped the North American tours chart with $127.2 million in ticket sales. Even though overall total ticket sales and gross revenues didn’t eclipse 2013, the concert industry still had a very good year on an individual show basis. It’s just that the big tours that went out in 2014 weren’t as plentiful.
Only eight acts played to more than 1 million fans worldwide compared with 17 in 2013. The Top 100 Worldwide Tours sold 51.68 million tickets which is 11.66 million or 18.4% fewer than the previous year. The Top 100 Worldwide Tours grossed $4.24 billion which is $76 million or 15.2% less than in 2013. The average ticket price, however, did go up by $3.08 or 3.9% to a record $82.07.
"Wetten Dass" broadcast, Graz, Austria
November 8, 2014
The level of business in North America contracted modestly but appears to have been stronger than the overall global market. The Top 100 North American Tours did a combined gross of $2.73 billion which was down 2.2% from 2013. Total ticket sales reached 38.19 million which was down 4.7% while the average ticket price jumped $1.92 or 2.8% to a record $71.44. Country music artists had another banner year with relative newcomer Luke Bryan’s $62.8 million and 72 shows just topping the retiring George Strait who did $61.8 million on his final ride through 26 markets. The Garth Brooks juggernaut is slowly making its way across the country as he keeps adding dates to satisfy the demand although in at least one market he went one show too many.
In addition to the usual suspects, 2015 will see the return of massive tours by AC/DC and U2. Taylor Swift, who was everywhere in the media but only did a handful of live international dates, is about to launch a huge stadium and arena tour. One Direction will continue its global assault on box offices and look for Katy Perry to maximize the impact of her Super Bowl appearance. With the economy slowly continuing to improve, there is no reason why it should not be another good year for the concert business.