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$1bn artists line up global tours as confidence builds

Some of the world’s biggest artists, collectively worth more than US$1 billion in ticket revenue between 2018 and 2020, will hit the road again in 2021 and ’22, as confidence builds for a return to international touring over the next 12 months.

Sir Elton John, Celine Dion, Metallica, Michael Bublé, Guns N’ Roses, Bruce Springsteen and Eagles – all of whom ranked among the highest-grossing tours of 2018, 2019 and 2020, grossing more than $1bn between them – have in recent weeks revealed plans for new or rescheduled global tours, many of them starting as soon as this summer.

Sir Elton has extended his disrupted final tour, Farewell Yellow Brick Road, with a bumper 30-date, six-month stadium run across across mainland Europe, the UK and the United States.


“Hello, all you wonderful fans out there. I’m coming to you today with an announcement I’ve been working towards for, well, all my life: the shows that I announce today will be my final tour dates ever in North America and Europe,” he says in a statement.

“I’m going to go out in the biggest possible way, performing at my very best, with the most spectacular production I’ve ever had, playing in places that have meant so much to me throughout my career.

“Whether it’s next summer in Frankfurt or at the legendary Dodger Stadium for the grand finale in the United States, I can’t wait to see you all on the road one last time. This has been an incredible tour so far, full of the most amazing highs, and I look forward to making more wonderful memories with you at these final shows.”

The Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour, Sir Elton’s farewell tour, was brought to a halt by the coronavirus pandemic last March, with the last show on 7 March 2020 at Bankwest Stadium in Parramatta, Australia. The tour resumes on 1 September at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin and will conclude in Australasia in 2023.

The tour, produced and promoted by AEG Presents, grossed $212 million in 2019 and $71.2m in 2020.

“I’m going to go out in the biggest possible way, performing at my very best”

Springsteen, who grossed an incredible $88.3m from his Springsteen on Broadway shows, which had an average ticket price of $509, in 2018, also has live plans for 2022.

As well as reviving Springsteen on Broadway, Springsteen confirmed to E Street Radio on SiriusXM he is planning a full tour with his E Street Band in 2022. “I knew we were going to tour with the band next year,” he said, “[but] I had a friend who got so enthusiastic about it [Springsteen on Broadway] that he talked me into it sitting on my couch one night. The next day I said, ‘OK, we’ll do some shows.’ It really came around kind of casually.”

Eagles, meanwhile recently added another six dates to their long-delayed Hotel California tour, which kicks off at Madison Square Garden in New York in August.

While the band has only announced the rescheduled US dates so far (the first leg ends at Chase Center in San Francisco on 23 October 2021), pre-pandemic the Live Nation-promoted tour included included dates in London (Wembley Stadium) and Los Cabos, Mexico (Cabo en Vivo), so it is expected that additional European and Latin American shows are still to be announced.

Eagles grossed $166m from their 2018 North American tour.

Metal titans Metallica earlier this month announced six European festival shows for 2022, adding to the open-air shows pencilled in for the US in September, October and November 2021.

“We have waited far too long to say these words: we’re getting back out there”

Under the banner The Return of the European Summer Vacation, the band will play headline shows at Denmark’s Copenhell, the Netherlands’ Pinkpop, Italy’s Firenze Rocks, the Czech Republic’s Prague Rocks, Belgium’s Rock Werchter, Spain’s Mad Cool and Portugal’s NOS Alive. .

“We have waited far too long to say these words: we’re getting back out there and are finally announcing our return to Europe in 2022,” say Metallica in a statement. “Needless to say, we cannot wait to see all of you once again as our European ’tallica Family will finally have a chance to reunite in June and July of next year.”

The festivals next year will be Metallica’s first European shows since their Worldwired global tour, which grossed a total of $179m in 2019.

Elsewhere, Bublé (who grossed $115.8m in 2019 and $24.8m in 2020) is resuming his An Evening With Michael Bublé tour in North America in August, while Dion’s (2020 gross: $71.2m) postponed Courage world tour will finally kick off the same month in Winnipeg.

Also resuming a postponed tour this summer are Guns’ N Roses, whose world stadium tour – newly rechristened We’re F’n’ Back! – will begin at Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey, Pennsylvania, on 31 July 2021. The tour will include Australasian dates later this year and a string of European stadium shows next summer.

Opening the tour will be the late Eddie Van Halen’s bassist, son Wolfgang, with his band Mammoth WVH.


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The decade in live: 2013

The start of a new year and, perhaps more significantly, a new decade is fast approaching – and while many may be thinking ahead to New Year’s Eve plans and well-meaning 2020 resolutions, IQ is casting its mind back to the most pivotal industry moments of the last ten years.

Following on from a few tough years, 2013 was the year the live industry began to sparkle again, thanks to the improvement of several key economies and more favourable weather conditions.

The main issue for the 2013 business, in fact, appeared to be the abundance of tours, which somewhat outnumbered the amount of resources available to handle them.

2013 was also the year when a new generation began to shine, with the likes of Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber and One Direction performing well on year-end charts, indicating that the future of live was certainly looking bright.


2013 in numbers

In 2013, the top 20 worldwide tours raked in a combined US$2.4 billion, up 24% on the $2bn generated the year before, according to Pollstar.

Bon Jovi once again made the top spot, surpassing their winning 2010 total by almost $60 million and achieving the highest year-end tour total of the year, grossing $259.5m from 2.7m tickets with the Because We Can tour.

Beyoncé’s The Mrs Carter Show came in second with a total gross of $188.6m, followed by Pink’s The Truth About Love with $170.6m. Justin Bieber came hot on the Pink’s heels at fourth, grossing $169m with his second concert tour Believe. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band earned $145.4m, adding to the $210.2m grossed in 2012.

Newcomers also made their mark in 2013, with One Direction scraping into the top ten global tours for the first time with the Take Me Home tour ($114) and Bruno Mars making his first top twenty appearance with Moonshine Jungle tour.


2013 in brief

Seatwave founder and chief exec Joe Cohen exits the UK-based company, claiming that the secondary ticketing business is in great shape.

Kylie Minogue and her manager of 25 years, Terry Blamey, split, as the artist announces her intention to concentrate on her acting career. Minogue is now represented by Jay-Z’s management company Roc Nation, who also look after Rihanna, MIA and The Ting Tings.

Universal sells EMI’s Parlophone label group to Warner Music for an estimated £480m ($764m). The deal effectively means that three record companies now dominate the global market – Universal, Sony and Warner.

SFX Entertainment receives an undisclosed financial boost from advertising giant WPP, which counts agencies such as JWT; Grey; and Young & Rubicam in its portfolio. The deal gives SFX a powerful ally as it looks to ramp up its EDM empire.

AEG’s deal to take over the management of Wembley Arena is referred to the Competition Commission in the UK after an investigation by the Office of Fair Trading, which is concerned that AEG has too big an influence over live entertainment in the capital.

The decade in live: 2013

Wembley Stadium in 2013 © Wikiolo/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0

Princess Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, becomes arguably the most renowned ticket tout in the world, when he resells tickets for his debenture box at the Royal Albert Hall.

New York-based agency Paradigm launches a record label, Big Picnic Records, which boss Marty Diamond intends to use to “support the development of new artists.”

Ticketmaster files a lawsuit against a New York man who they allege uses bots to buy as many as 200,000 tickets a day, before the general public can.

Pink smashes her record of 17 shows at Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena by booking an 18th date on her The Truth About Love tour. The Australian leg includes 46 shows and is expected to sell more than 500,000 tickets.

The promoter and stage supplier are charged in relation to a fatal stage collapse, which claimed the life of Radiohead drum tech Scott Johnson in Toronto’s Downsview Park last year.

Live Nation and Insomniac Events confirm rumours of a creative partnership, although the latter’s chief, Pasquale Rotella states Insomniac will remain independent.

The decade in live: 2013

Insomniac promotes EDM festival franchise Electric Daisy Carnival © Global Stomping/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Vince Power sells a major shareholding in Benicàssim Festival to SJM Concerts and Denis Desmond in a deal designed to assure the future of the popular Spanish event. Power will remain MD of the event which this year featured Arctic Monkeys, Queens of the Stone Age, Beady Eye, and The Killers.

Vivendi rejects an $8.5bn offer for Universal Music Group from Japanese telecoms giant SoftBank. It’s thought the increasing importance of music services in the mobile market prompted the unsolicited offer.

Lady Gaga and Madonna face prosecution in Russia for allegedly performing without proper visas. Both artists are accused of breaking Russia’s new gay propaganda laws, which make it illegal to promote homosexuality to minors.

Agency IMG Worldwide is put up for sale by private equity firm, Forstmann Little & Co, with analysts expecting a price tag of about $2bn.

Michael Gudinski’s Frontier Touring agrees a strategic partnership with dance promoter Future Music Festival to present the touring event, which visits five Australian cities and Malaysia next March.

Irving Azoff partners with The Madison Square Garden Company to create Azoff MSG Entertainment. In return for a $125m investment, MSG will own a 50% stake in a company, which will include artist management, TV production, live event branding and digital marketing divisions.

The decade in live: 2013

Benicàssim Festival © Jiquesan/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

The jury in the $1.5bn case brought by Michael Jackson’s family against AEG finds that although AEG did employ Dr Conrad Murray, the company was not liable for his negligence.

Austin City Limits organisers are forced to cancel the final day of the US music festival when heavy rain and thunderstorms cause flooding.

Scooter Braun, manager of Justin Bieber, is pulling together a management conglomerate thanks to backing from Waddell & Reed Financial. The New York Times says Braun is in talks with several potential partners including Drake and his management team, Shania Twain and Troy Carter (ex Lady Gaga manager).

Live Nation confirms it is negotiating terms to acquire the management companies of U2 and Madonna. The deal to buy Paul McGuinness’s Principle Management and Guy Oseary’s Maverick could cost about $30m with Oseary taking over management of both operations.

Talent agency William Morris Endeavour acquires IMG Worldwide in a $2.3bn deal backed by private equity group Silver Lake.

SFX Entertainment pays $16.2m for a 75% stake in Dutch- based ticketing operation Paylogic, which counts 2,000 clients across its offices in Groningen, Amsterdam, Berlin and Antwerp.

The decade in live: 2013

Claude Nobs, Montreux Jazz founder (1936-2013) © Yvan Hausmann @ MJF/Yvanhausman (CC BY-SA 3.0)


Who we lost

Notable industry deaths in 2013 include Claude Nobs, Montreux Jazz Festival founder and GM, 76; Modern World founder Henning Tögel, 58; Cecil Womack, The Valentinos and Womack & Womack singer, aged 65; Live Nation Denmark CEO Flemming Schmidt, 63; German promoter Fritz Rau, 83; Edwin Shirley, founder of Edwin Shirley Trucking and Edwin Shirley Staging, 65; Danish live music impresario Arne Worsøe, 72; Velvet Underground singer and guitarist and solo artist Lou Reed, 71.


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Advocates urge New Jersey to veto changes to ticket holdback law

A group of US secondary ticketing advocates have penned a letter urging New Jersey governor Phil Murphy not to sign a bill which would abolish 17 year-old laws capping ticket holdbacks to 5%. Already a controversial move, the bill was made even more so by the fact it was quietly fast-tracked through legislature without any public hearings on the matter.

Now, Scot X. Esdaile of US Minority Ticketing Group (USMTG), Tom Patania of NJ Ticket Brokers, Gary Adler of the National Association of Ticket Brokers (NATB) and Darnell Goldson of TicketNetwork have come together to urge Murphy to reconsider the proposed changes, which have been heavily pushed by venue owners in the state.

In the letter, the group stress the need for the live event sector to be centred on consumers and their protection. It points out that while the new amendments operate under the guise of being consumer-friendly with some good measures, the overall outcome would harm both consumers and local small businesses alike.

This sentiment is echoed by Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, executive director of the NJ Citizen Action advocacy group. Reacting to the proposed bill, she admits some of the parts of the bill are positive, but questions “why, at the same time, it’s removed some really important consumer protections, like the 5%.” She also pointed out the necessity for public hearings, saying: “These were all things we would have talked about if we had the opportunity go to a hearing and testify.”

“These were all things we would have talked about if we had the opportunity go to a hearing and testify”

The letter calls on research by the New York Attorney General which found more than 50% of tickets are commonly held back from big concerts and shows. A smaller pool of available tickets leads to soaring ticket prices and frustrated fans. This was certainly the case in 2009, when New Jersey native Bruce Springsteen held back some 2,262 tickets (12%) from public sale. Sixty per cent of the ten best sections in the venue were holdbacks, with only 108 of the seats closest to the stage available to the public.

Alongside the criticism of the removal of 5% on holdbacks, the letter also points out a number of other faults with the bill. Proposed changes would remove consumer protections regarding season ticket holders being able to lawfully sell tickets back to the venue for events they aren’t able to attend.

It also adds uncertainty to consumers’ ability to gift, sell or donate tickets they have purchased – the bill gives power to ticket issuers to revoke tickets for any reason without conditions.

However, as stated by consumer advocates and politicians alike, the bill does propose some important, consumer-friendly measures. These include a ban on venues overbooking concerts, a ban on ‘bot’ technology and a clear refund policy.


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#stopticketabuse: Spanish Boss fan petitions govt

The president of Bruce Springsteen’s Spanish fan club today launched a petition aimed forcing government to take action on for-profit secondary ticketing sites.

Joan Colet, president of the Stone Pony Club, is hoping to gather half a million signatures to present to Spain’s minister of justice, Rafael Catala Polo, minister of education, culture and sports, Íñigo Méndez de Vigo, and state secretary for culture, Fernando Benzo Sainz, calling for a crackdown on the “robbery of real fans of live music” by ticket brokers.

Bruce Springsteen shows were at a centre of the secondary ticketing controversy that erupted in Spain last year, with promoter Doctor Music taking legal action – still ongoing – against several sites it accuses of “defrauding” consumers.

This was followed in February by a similar lawsuit by Berry Producciones against Viagogo and the establishment of the Anti-Resale Alliance by singer Alejandro Sanz.

“Live music fans need a government ban on the resale for profit of live music tickets”

Méndez de Vigo pledged on 8 March to “regulate” the online ticket resale market, although no concrete measures have yet been announced.

“Live music fans need a government ban on the resale for profit of live music tickets, so that we can return to buying tickets at their agreed price without risk of being ripped off,” comments Colet, who is using the hashtag #stopticketabuse to spread word about the petition.

“I have created this petition in order to gather the 500,000 signatures that will allow me to present our case to make Congress, the government and the judiciary take the necessary legislative and judicial measures so as to end the robbery of real fans of live music by a few unscrupulous people who profit at their expense.”

The petition went live on Change.org earlier today.


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Spanish market up 14.7%—but still below 2010 high

The value of the Spanish live music industry increased 14.7% year on year in 2016 – a third consecutive year of growth, and the best 12 months for the business in six years.

Bolstered by tours by Bruce Springsteen, Manuel Carrasco and Coldplay, revenues from live performance topped €223 million – up from €194.6m in 2015 – although that figure still falls short of the €260m recorded in 2010, before the increase in VAT on shows to 21%.

The Association of Music Promoters (APM), whose recently published Live Music Yearbook VIII documents the statistics, says the 21% rate of cultural-sector VAT remains the biggest obstacle to further growth, as, “despite promises [to cut VAT] by the ruling party, it continues to hurt the live industry on a day-to-day basis”.

“Despite promises to cut VAT, it continues to hurt the live industry on a day-to-day basis”

Despite the positive figures, APM also warns of relying too much on major international tours, citing “meagre margins” for smaller, independent promoters, and says government action is needed on secondary ticketing, which has been “particular harmful on these tours [Springsteen and Coldplay], as well as on those scheduled for 2017 by Bruno Mars and Joaquín Sabina”.

APM, which represents more than 80% of Spain’s concert promoters, recently appointed Producciones Animadas director Albert Salmerón as its new president.

The eighth Live Music Yearbook (Anuario de la Música en Vivo), can be purchased for €8 from Jot Down.


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Bruce Springsteen tops 2016 tour charts

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band’s The River Tour 2016 was the highest grossing worldwide tour last year, earning $268.3m over 76 shows. The average ticket price was $111 across over 2.4m tickets sold, according to Pollstar’s Top 10 Worldwide Tours ranking.

Organised by BPB Consulting and the Creative Artists Agency, the tour was the first in two years for Springsteen and band, and was in support of his 2015 box set, The Ties That Bind: The River Collection.

Taking second place on Pollstar’s year-end lists was Beyoncé with The Formation World Tour—another CAA project. Over 49 shows, the tour grossed $256.4m, with an average ticket price of $114 and over 2.2m sold.

Coldplay take third place with the A Head Full of Dreams Tour, organised by Paradigm and X-ray Touring, grossing $241m. Over 2.6m tickets were sold across 60 shows, with an average price of $90.

Guns N’Roses’ Not In This Lifetime… Tour is fourth with $188.4m across 44 dates. 1.6m tickets were sold with an average price of $111 and UTA and ITB shared agency duties.

Rounding off the top 5 is Adele with her WME/ITB Adele Live 2016 dates that grossed $167.7m last year. 1.5m tickets were sold across 107 shows with an average price of $109.

Further down the list is Justin Bieber at sixth place, followed by Paul McCartney, Garth Brooks, The Rolling Stones and Celine Dion.


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US reps review pro-ticket transparency Boss Act

The Boss Act, a proposed piece of legislation to better regulate the US event ticketing market, received a positive reception when it went before the US House of Representatives’ Energy and Commerce Committee yesterday.

The bill (an acronym for Better Oversight of Secondary Sales and Accountability in Concert Ticketing), inspired by prominent anti-touting activist Bruce ‘The Boss’ Springsteen, is sponsored by New Jersey Democrat Bill Pascrell. Its provisions, according to Pascrell’s website, include:

“The [Federal Trade] Commission supports the goal of [the Boss Act], said FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez, “which would require more transparency in ticket sales.” She also recommended further action on the bill, as well as the sister Bots (Better Online Ticket Sales) Act, which specifically targets ticket bots.

“The Boss Act is necessary would bring transparency and a set of parameters to a multi-billion-dollar industry running amok”

National Consumers League vice-president John Breyault was also supportive. The Boss Act, he said, “offers comprehensive solutions that, collectively, will significantly improve fans’ ticket buying experiences. By requiring greater transparency in the primary ticketing market, prohibiting egregious broker practices like undisclosed speculative ticketing,and limiting the ability of connected insiders to surreptitiously divert tickets to the secondary market, the Boss Act would lead to beneficial reforms in the ticketing marketplace.”

Pascrell introduced the first version of the bill in 2009 after discovering TicketsNow, a subsidiary of Ticketmaster, had oversold tickets for Springsteen concerts in New Jersey and Washington, DC.

“The ticket industry is full of opaque practices that game the consumer, the casual fan,” he said yesterday. “That’s why the Boss Act is necessary. It would bring transparency and a set of parameters to a multi-billion-dollar industry running amok.”

Last month New York attorney-general Eric Schneiderman, another prominent political critic of ticketing companies, fined several bot-using brokers $2.7 million and announced the launch of a bill that would make using ticket-buying software a criminal offence.

Springsteen, Bryan Adams first to cancel shows over anti-LGBT laws

Bruce Springsteen and Bryan Adams have become the first major touring artists to cancel concerts in protest against new ‘anti-gay’ laws in some southern US states.

Canadian singer-songwriter Adams (pictured) has called off his 14 April show at Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi following the signing into law of Mississippi bill 1523, which allows religious groups and some private businesses to refuse service to gay people and anyone who offends their “sincerely held religious beliefs”.

Adams said he can not “in good conscience” perform in a state where “certain people are being denied their civil rights due to their sexual orientation”.

New Jerseyan Springsteen cancelled an appearance in Greensboro, North Carolina, on Sunday in protest against the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, which has also drawn condemnation from Barack Obama, American Airlines, PayPal, Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter and the states of Connecticut, Minnesota, New York, Vermont and Washington, which have banned non-essential travel to North Carolina for public-sector employees.

Adams said he can not “in good conscience” perform in a state where “certain people are being denied their civil rights due to their sexual orientation”

The law invalidated at a state-wide level several local anti-discrimination measures, and also requires transgender people to use public toilets that correspond to the sex listed on their birth certificates.

In addition to negatively affecting the live music sector, the North Carolina law is already forcing major sporting events out of the state: National Basketball Association (NBA) commissioner Adam Silver announced yesterday that the city of Charlotte will no longer be allowed to host the 2017 NBA All-Star Game as, “with this new law in place, Charlotte currently does not have any anti-discrimination protection in place, something that would be vital for a large event such as the All-Star Game”.

Springsteen’s decision to cancel was called a “bully tactic” by North Carolina congressman Mark Walker. “It’s like when a kid gets upset and says he’s going to take his ball and go home,” Walker, a Republican, told The Hollywood Reporter.

The Rolling Stones are top-selling act of Q1 2016

The Rolling Stones have sold the most tickets of any artist worldwide in 2016 so far.

A total of 729,292 people bought tickets to see the Stones – who wrapped up their América Latina Olé tour of Latin America with an historic concert in Havana on 25 March – between 1 January and 31 March, reveals Pollstar’s chart of the top 100 tours of the first quarter (Q1) of 2016.

The British rock aristocrats’ previous tour, the AEG Live-promoted 15-date Zip Code tour of North America, was the 10th most lucrative of 2015, grossing US$109.7 million from 628,733 tickets in a year in which just four American artists placed in the global top 10.

The Winter Jam tour of Christian rock, pop, rap and contemporary Christian music (CCM) bands, headlined by Christian pop duo For King & Country, places second in the year to date with 504,124 tickets sold, with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (467,321), Maroon 5 (451,761) and Madonna (380,669) rounding out the top five.

A total of 729,292 people bought tickets to see The Rolling Stones between 1 January and 31 March

Iron Maiden are sixth, having shifted 340,472 tickets to their The Book of Souls world tour, which kicked off on 24 February and is already on its second jumbo jet, closely followed by non-music shows Disney on Ice (339,028) Cirque du Soleil’s Varekai (265,778) and the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus (252,571). Ricky Martin is 10th, with 232,015 units sold.

Muse, touring in support of their seventh studio album, Drones, sold 196,680 tickets to place 16th, with Adele (183,553) and The Who (157,447) not far behind, in 18th and 21st, respectively. Black Sabbath (130,871) are doing good numbers on their final tourThe End, placing 28th, with currently-without-a-lead-singer AC/DC 30th, having sold 120,558 tickets in 2016 so far.

Live Nation and AEG Live were, unsurprisingly, the top two promoters – first and second with 3,306,032 and 2,658,628 tickets sold, respectively – with T4F of Brazil in third (981,090), Mexico’s CIE in fourth (868,876) and Florida-based Feld Entertainment in fifth (658,972). British outfit SJM Concerts, in seventh with 522,388 tickets sold, was the highest-placing European promoter.