Higher Ticket Prices Help The Concert Industry Put On A Happy Face

Oct 15th, 2008 // 12 Comments

In the face of tough economic times and not very many big-ticket shows, the concert industry actually did better this summer than it did in 2007! Well, if you only look at one measure of the industry, anyway. Billboard reports that overall concert grosses from May 1 to Labor Day were $1 billion, which is up 5% from $948.5 million in 2007. Hooray! More money! But lurking underneath those higher numbers is a slightly more troubling statistic–overall attendance was actually down 4% year-to-year, from 19.5 million tickets sold in 2007 to 18.7 million sold this year. (And that doesn’t even count the number of people who didn’t go to shows that they’d already bought tickets for because the price of gas was too high.) So basically that difference was made up by higher ticket prices, which will probably only be driven upward as a result of these sorta-happy numbers and ever-weakening consumer confidence. The No. 1 ticket last summer: Kenny Chesney, thanks to his filling the “concert-as-party” void left by the lack of a Jimmy Buffett summer jaunt. The 10 highest-grossing tours are after the jump–how many did you attend?

1. Kenny Chesney: $62.7 million
2. The Police: $44.5 million
3. Tom Petty/Steve Winwood: $34.6 million
4. Dave Matthews Band: $30.7 million
5. Bruce Springsteen: $28.4 million
6. Billy Joel: $25.6 million
7. The Jonas Brothers: $25.1 million
8. American Idols Live: $24.6 million
9. Neil Diamond: $22.4 million
10. Rascal Flatts: $21.4 million

For the record, I attended two of the above concerts–although I only paid to get into one of them. (Sadly, I missed the American Idol tour, which means I was deprived of the chance to see Ramiele Malubay show some personality.)

Economy can’t cool summer tours: Earnings rise 5% [USA Today]


  1. Anonymous

    None, I refuse to pay more than $25 for a ticket to anything.

  2. Ned Raggett

    My limit is $50. (I think the only two exceptions in the past ten years have been one of the Depeche Mode tours and, unsurprisingly, MBV.)

  3. How do I say this ... THROWDINI!

    None. I actually bought 2 tickets to see The Police at the Hollywood Bowl, but heard from others that their earlier LA shows pretty much sucked, so I sold them to a friend for cost and went to see Mates of State instead. I do not regret that decision.

  4. Audif Jackson Winters III

    I looked into getting tickets for AC/DC, almost as a “check it off your list” show, and decided otherwise once I discovered that nosebleed seats were $90.

    Oh, and none of those shows.

  5. BawstonSean

    I saw about 25 minutes of the Kenny Chesney show in Nashville before the missus and I realized that we were basically watching TV with 20,000 douchebags. I tried to be open minded about the whole thing, but it was absolutely terrifying/gross – nothin’ but dipshits and leathery tits.

  6. Chris N.

    I saw the Police and Springsteen.

  7. Chris Molanphy

    Two, like Maura. Mine were Police and Bruce, both under $100, which is my usual psychological barrier for blockbuster shows. (I’d make an exception for Prince.)

    I also saw Justin Timberlake at the Garden in ’07 and am a bit surprised he didn’t squeak into the Top 10.

  8. raihala

    I saw seven of them (some of them on the ’07 leg) for work.

    I let our freelancer cover Springsteen (who I’ve seen now, like four times in the last four years) and went to Kelly Clarkson that night instead. DMB hasn’t been in my market since ’05 or ’06. I had to miss this summer’s AI tour due to scheduling issues.

    As far as the summer has gone here in the Twin Cities, I’ve seen lower-than-expected attendances at a number of shows (Kanye West being a notable one) and some that were pathetic, like the True Colors tour that managed to draw something like 3,000 people — 2,500 of which were there with free tickets, it seemed. The big hitters, tho, are still selling out or getting very, very close. AC/DC sold out almost instantly.

  9. T'Challa

    @How do I say this … THROWDINI!: As someone that was seriously (and unexpectedly) wowed by the Police at Dodger Stadium of all places, methinks your friends were either too drunk (or not drunk enough!) when they saw them in LA. Sure, Sting is still a db, but combined w/Andy and Stewart = magic.

    At the same time, Mate of State are pretty awesome, and their new tour with the cello player and extra musician are fab.

  10. T'Challa

    and for the record, the Police were the only band on that list that I paid to see. i would’ve paid for Tom Petty, but tix were just too outrageously priced. Thankfully, i was able to see him back in the day when i was just a young tyke. Still one of the best shows EVER…

  11. D.R. Mosby

    I spent about $100 to get a decent seat for the Springsteen concert at the Honda Center. Every other show I saw was pretty cheap (except for the $$$ I spent to take Mrs. Mosby to see Van Morrison at the Masonic Auditorium in SF – but that was a birthday present).

  12. Thierry

    I saw Springsteen, would’ve seen the Petty tour if it had been outdoors instead of an arena show, and may still be convinced to go see Neil Diamond when he passes through town in December.

    Also, I’m paying $90 for Wilco and Neil Young in a couple of months, which actually seems like a bargain these days for GA floors.

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