2017’s Top Concert Tours Set Record Gross

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U2, The Joshua Tree Tour 2017, BC Place Vancouver Canada, May 12 (Photo: Danny North; Used with permission)

2017 was a record-setting year in the concert business, according to data released by Pollstar, the trade publication that covers the worldwide concert industry. The year’s Top 20 tours, led by U2 and Guns N’ Roses, set a new mark for ticket grosses, topping the previous best–in 2016–by a stunning $264 million.

The Top 20 tours brought in $2.66 billion in ticket revenue, none bigger than U2’s The Joshua Tree anniversary tour, which earned a whopping $316 million for its 50 dates in 38 cities. Just behind them were Guns N’ Roses, who took in $292.5 million for their 81 dates in 74 cities. While their overall grosses are close, the average gross per U2 date were a mind-blowing $8.3 million, given the larger seating capacity of their stadium shows.

According to Pollstar, the Top 100 worldwide tours generated a record $5.65 billion in revenues, a whopping 15.8% increase over 2016. That’s partly due to more tickets sold for those tour (+10.4%) and a record average ticket price of $84.63 (up nearly 5%).

Other classic rock acts in the Top 20 included Metallica, Paul McCartney, among many others. The Rolling Stones ranked ninth, despite playing just 14 shows. However, their 2017 #NoFilter European dates had the highest average grosses–a shade under $10 million per concert–thanks to high stadium capacity and their big average ticket price ($158.81). By comparison, U2’s average price was significantly lower: $116.47.

Pollstar notes that 11 tours grossed over $100 million, up from seven in 2016.

2017’s Top 20 Highest Grossing Worldwide Tours

38 Dead & Company 51.8
37 Queen + Adam Lambert 52.3
36 John Mayer 54.0
27 Trans-Siberian Orchestra 61.5
24 Neil Diamond 63.4
23 Elton John 63.9
22 Green Day 64.0
21 Sting 64.1
20 Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers 64.7
19 Ariana Grande 66.5
18 Red Hot Chili Peppers 73.5
17 Tim McGraw/Faith Hill 79.3
16 The Weeknd 80.0
15 Billy Joel 82.3
14 Lady Gaga 85.7
13 Roger Waters 92.1
12 Justin Bieber 93.7
11 Celine Dion 101.2
10 Garth Brooks 101.4
9 The Rolling Stones 120.0
8 Ed Sheeran 124.1
7 Paul McCartney 132.0
6 Depeche Mode 141.0
5 Metallica 152.8
4 Bruno Mars 200.1
3 Coldplay 238.0
2 Guns N’ Roses 292.5
1 U2 316.0

Fresno, Calif.-based Pollstar tracks major touring acts around the world. Springsteen on Broadway took in a reported $87.8 million but apparently wasn’t deemed a tour for these calculations. (2016’s Top 5 tours were by Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, Beyoncé, Coldplay, Guns N’ Roses and Adele.)

Related: Listings for 100s of upcoming classic rock tours

Who are the likely candidates to top 2018’s list? Well, U2 begin their eXPERIENCE and iNNOCENCE tour in May. The Eagles have already announced dozens of dates–many at stadiums–and are expected to do somewhere between 40-50. Though Fleetwood Mac haven’t formally announced a tour, Mick Fleetwood and Christine McVie have already told interviewers that they’re planning a world tour.


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