With the concert industry earning $1.43 billion through the first half of this year, according to Pollstar, performers old and new are cashing in. The live music business is rocketing toward a record year, lifted by boomer bait such as the Rolling Stones and Fleetwood Mac, as well as data-driven pricing tactics and a growing festival business.
The top of the list leans heavily on the back catalog. Of the year’s top-five grossing acts in North America, the youngest is Kenny Chesney, who got started more than two decades ago.
“We’ve tended to rely on acts like the Stones and Fleetwood Mac, the kind of evergreen attractions that could fill arenas, without having a new album,” says Pollstar’s Gary Bongiovanni.
His numbers show the Rolling Stones on top, earning $80.7 million. Garth Brooks, Fleetwood Mac, Kenny Chesney and U2 round out the top five. But with a much-anticipated tour underway, Taylor Swift is poised to break into that elite group soon.
Overall, average ticket prices are at an all-time high of $76. That’s a sign bands and promoters are using big data to price smarter, scooping up money that used to go to scalpers.
Another important development is the growth of festivals. They’re particularly popular among younger fans. Accustomed to having every artist streaming at their fingertips, younger fans expect the same kind of variety in concert.
“The festival is a reflection of how the millennial consumes music,” says Rich Tullo, research director at Albert Fried & Company.