Looks Like U2 Fans Saved the Concert Industry in 2011

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u2 blind guitar fan

After exploring the stories of these U2 fans, it obvious that their desire to experience the awe and granduer of U2 live is what saved the concert industry from another down year in 2011. At least that’s what the numbers say.

According to Billboard, here’s a breakdown of the numbers in their Year in Touring article:

…the final leg of U2’s record-shattering 360 tour was enough to make U2 the top touring act of 2011, with $293.3 million in box office and nearly 3 million in ticket sales generated in the time frame of Nov. 1, 2010-Nov. 8, 2011, according to Billboard Boxscore.

The final 360 tally is $736,421,586 with attendance of more than 7 million, according to Boxscore, both all-time touring industry records. The tour wrapped July 30 in Moncton, New Brunswick, with 110 stadium sellouts.

The significance of the tour is finally sinking in for Live Nation Global Touring chairman Arthur Fogel, worldwide producer of the epic trek. “As time moves on and we get further away from it, it actually seems more impressive than when you’re actually in the middle of it,” says Fogel. “When you can capture the attention and imagination and enjoyment of 7 million people, that’s what this business is all about.”

A closer look at the numbers also shows that these numbers are what they appear to be because, as Billboard points out, there was a decline in the number of venues reporting to Box and there’s more than one way to look at the box office percentages.

In North America, 22% fewer shows reported still generated a 7% increase in total gross and only a 3% decrease in attendance. IT’s fair to say that the decline in shows reported to Boxscore reflects a decline in reporting following last year’s meltdown, but touring traffic likely decreased somewhat due to extensive packaging this year and more caution overall in mounting tours.

When analyzed by the more telling barometer of per-show averages, the numbers look even better. Worldwide, the average gross per show was up a whopping 45%, and the average attendance was up 27.3%, reflecting both the growth in international touring markets the global nature of megatours by the likes of U2, Bon Jovi, Waters, and others.

This is just a first pass and some of the 2011 touring numbers, and we’ll take a deeper dive and a closer comparison to 2010’s tally in our year-end wrap-up and explorations on future episode of Live Fix Radio.

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Did The Concert Industry Survive 2010?

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Last week we explored our Best of 2010 concert experiences. And during those explorations we discovered how live music continues to be a place of profound self-discovery, escape and an environment were live music fans find emotional comfort and community.

But did the concert industry’s bottom line reflect the same awe and wonder? Did we have better concert experiences while going to less shows in 2010? Let’s find answers to those questions and wonder some more and see if the concert industry did survive an unfortunate down year in 2010.

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Did the Concert Industry Survive 2009?

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I’m not a big numbers guy but when I read the year-end numbers issued by Live Nation, AEG Live and other promoters, I thought it’d be a good idea for us to take a stroll through them just to make sure that the live music industry didn’t die and everyone made it through 2009 alive.

We’ll also lay to rest a few fan-centric issues and see why consumer protection groups are digging a grave for the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger.

What do concert promoters year-end numbers reveal?

First, according to Billboard, here are the 2009 Year-End Numbers for the North American Market, two top concert promoters and independent promoters.

North American Market

$2.8 billion in box office

down 2% and the 50 million in paid attendance is down less 1.7%

“numbers were generated from a 9% decrease in the number of shows reported”

The Billboard reports mentions that “a more positive indicator is a show-by-show analysis of the year.”  I’m not exactly sure what “show-by-show” means.

But they seem to be trying to put a positive spin on things by saying that “worldwide, average gross and attendance per show are up 11.3% and 11.8%, respectively. In North America, average per-show gross and attendance are up 7.6% and 8%, respectively.”

And what about the world’s two biggest concert promoters?

Well, it’s jarring how big a gap there is between the two’s 2009 numbers, which makes the merger all the more an important decision pending for 2010 ( All $ numbers are gross).

Live Nation (world’s largest concert promoter)

  • $2.5 billion
  • 41 million in attendance from 9,085 shows
  • 25% increase in gross and a 19% increase in attendance
  • 1.6% decrease in shows from 2008

AEG Live (2nd largest promoter)

  • $888 million
  • 12.8 million attendance from 2,531 shows
  • 12% decrease in gross and a 9% increase in shows
  • $1 billion gross, 14.5 million attendance 2,324 shows in 2008

Independent promoters:

Chicago’s Jam Productions

2009: $78 million

2008: $53 million

Austin’s C3 Presents

2009: $60 million

2008: $50 million

Consumer Protection Groups Chime In

Earlier this month consumer protection groups spoke about the issue of secondary markets (or ticket scalpers) as it related to the pending Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger:

Then again, ticket prices have steadily increased with the competition that currently exists in the marketplace. Primary tickets cost more for many reasons, but the fact is today’s ticket prices better reflect how consumers value the concerts. Companies should not be stopped from extracting existing value. On the other hand, the rise of the secondary market has caused the final prices paid by actual attendees to increase, too. Consumer protection groups were fairly quiet as states relaxed laws prohibiting scalping. Those changes paved the way for today’s secondary market and higher prices for consumers. So, one has to wonder if these groups are truly against higher prices for consumers or if they would oppose any merger regardless of its benefits or drawbacks.

As Billboard reporter Ray Waddle points out, we all want to end on a positive note in 2009, right?

Despite an extremely challenging economy, the global concert business managed to put solid numbers in 2009, a testament to both the resiliency of the business and the enduring popularity of live music.

Yes, considering the year that we had economically, I’d say the concert industry did as good as it could. Live Nation still came out on top even though they offered a year-long discounted  pricing option. And AEG Live seems to be holding a strong but distant second, even though they took a significant hit with Michael Jackson’s canceled concerts. We’ll have to wait and see if AEG Live’s 3D theatrical concerts will give them an edge in 2010.

Like I said before, I’m not a big numbers guy and I know it’s easy for fans to glaze over the numbers and only focus on the escapism of live music.

But, as a fellow fan, I share these numbers so you can at least have a better idea of what’s going on at the top level, so we can all make more informed decisions with our wallets.

What are your year-end numbers and 2010 forecasts?

Did you go to less shows than you did in 2008?

Do we still need to destroy the live music industry or create a FANS program?

Did you think the summer music festival layaway programs helped the concert industry and fans?

Will the U.S. Department of Justice approve the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger?

Photo by Colleen Catania

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Are We One Step Closer To a FANS Concert Model?

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It’s been a busy week for stories that involve putting the fans in the driver’s seat in the music industry. 

First, it was Glastonbury’s early sell out then I read this story about Public Enemy calling on fans to front money for their next album and giving fans a share of the profits.

Both stories have really made me think that maybe I wasn’t that crazy when I started to think about FANS, a concert ticket model that gives concert fans more power and leverage when going to see live music.

Take a look at SellaBand, the new business model being used by Public Enemy, and tell me what you think about creating a similar model for the live concert industry.

Fans, artists, promoters and label owners: I’d like to know what you think.

 Photo credit: NME

 

 

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