2018’s Concert Business Sets Sales Record

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The 4 biggest rock tours of 2018

2018 was a record-setting year in the concert business, with more than $10.4 billion in sales, representing 152.1 million tickets, according to data released Dec. 17 by Pollstar, the trade publication that covers the worldwide concert industry. The year’s Top 10 tours, led by Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift, set a new mark for ticket grosses, with more than $2 billion, topping the previous best–in 2017–by a stunning $200 million.

Sheeran set a new all-time touring record for a calendar year with an astounding $432 million worldwide and over 4.8 million tickets sold. Swift, who topped all artists in North American ticket sales, sold $345 million worldwide, representing nearly 2.9 million tickets. Combined, the pair sold roughly 14% of all the tickets of the worldwide Top 100 tours.

The top classic rock acts on the road in 2018 were Eagles, whose $166 million in revenue were entirely in North America. They thus ranked #4 in North America and #6 worldwide.

Related: Our review of a June 2018 Eagles concert

Roger Waters was #8 worldwide with $131 million. U2, at #9 worldwide, sold $126 million. And the Rolling Stones were #10 worldwide with $116 million in just 14 dates. See below for the Top 20 list.

Related: Our recap of the Stones in London, May 2018

Sheeran’s astonishing 2018 numbers only tell part of the story. His “Divide” tour, which began in 2017, is already the third highest-grossing tour in history with $554, behind only U2’s “360” tour ($735 million) and the Stones’ “A Bigger Bang” ($558 million).

Other classic rock acts in the worldwide Top 20: the Journey / Def Leppard co-headlining tour (#12), Springsteen on Broadway (#13), Foo Fighters (#14), Guns N’ Roses (#16) and Phil Collins (#19).

Elsewhere in the worldwide Top 50: Billy Joel (#22), Metallica (#24), Trans-Siberian Orchestra (#31), Dave Matthews Band (#35), Dead & Company (#36), Queen + Adam Lambert (#41), Paul McCartney (#46), Elton John (#47), Iron Maiden (#48) and Fleetwood Mac (#50).

Related: Recap of McCartney’s opening night of his 2018 tour

Average ticket prices tell a whole other story for the Top 50 acts. Springsteen on Broadway, at the limited seating Walter Kerr Theater, was $509. Next was Celine Dion ($213), Britney Spears ($208), both part of Vegas residencies. Other rock acts in arenas and stadiums were Eagles ($172), McCartney ($156) and the Stones ($155). The average price for a Sheeran ticket was a relatively modest 89 bucks.

2018 Top Worldwide Tours

Gross        Artist                             Tickets (in millions)

432.4        Ed Sheeran                   4.860
345.1        Taylor Swift                  2.889
254.1        Jay-Z / Beyoncé            2.169
169.2        Pink                               1.285
167.6        Bruno Mars                  1.290
166.0        Eagles                            0.964
151.0        Justin Timberlake       1.193
131.3        Roger Waters               1.449
126.2        U2                                   0.927
116.6        The Rolling Stones      0.751

114.4        Kenny Chesney            1.297
97.8          Journey / Def Leppard 1.000
88.3          Springsteen on B’way 0.173
87.3          Foo Fighters                  1.045
84.0          Sam Smith                     1.071
82.4          Guns N’ Roses               0.777
79.0          Drake                              0.678
76.4          Helene Fischer              0.899
75.5          Phil Collins                     0.607
74.2          Depeche Mode               0.871

Related: Listings for 100s of 2019 rock tours

Best Classic Bands Staff

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  1. GG
    #1 GG 18 December, 2018, 17:48

    A summer/fall tour that was MAGNIFICENT in concept, content & execution (and with great tix under $100 each) was The Sweetheart of The Rodeo Anniversary celebration featuring Roger McGuinn & Chris Hillman of the original Byrds backed by Marty Stuart & band…..saw the show in Albany NY, Boston & NJ…..superb and history-making!!

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