U2, Coldplay, Bruno Mars… and Guns N Roses? Could a far-past-its-prime GNR have made the top 5 list of highest grossing tours in 2017? Read on, because these are the musicians who had the biggest impact on the concert scene in 2017.
The top-grossing tour of 2017 was by a band that did not have a new album out at the beginning of the year: U2 topped the concert tour earnings in 2017 after they launched a worldwide tour to celebrate the 30th anniversary of The Joshua Tree. The tour continues into 2017. Concert publication Pollstar said the top 20 tours of 2017 brought in a record $2.66 billion. A big chunk of that ($316 million) was taken in by U2. With an average ticket price of over $116, fans clearly thought the tour was worth the price.
Guns N’ Roses surprisingly held down the second spot, grossing $238 million for a reunion tour featuring Axl Rose. The average ticket price was just $41 for GNR, indicating that fans got great value – and that the heavy metal champs were pretty close to catching U2, selling more than 2.5 million tickets.
Coldplay is frequently mocked, but there’s a reason they are perpetually on tour: people buy their tickets. They wound up in third place, grossing more than $238 million. Bruno Mars became the first solo artist to crack the $200.1 million mark for 2017, enough to land in the fourth spot. Mars is the only current artist to make the top five. Fifth place went to Metallica, whose 49-show run earned over $150 million.
Solo artist Ed Sheerhan was in the top ten, with more than $140 million in his worldwide tour. Paul McCartney made $132 million over just 36 shows to land at number 6, while the Rolling Stones held down the ninth spot for just 14 concerts ($120 million). With over $140 million in sales, 1980’s pioneers Depeche Mode also made the top 10.
Bruce Springsteen just missed a spot in the top 10 for his Broadway show, but still wound up in the top 12 just by selling premium tickets (starting at over $1,000) in a very small, 900+ seat venue. Justin Bieber made over $93 million on his tour and then abruptly cancelled the rest of it, leaving some observers with the conclusion that he left an estimated $70 million on the table.
The men of classic rock dominate the concert charts while lagging on the pop charts. Others who landed in the top 20 include Roger Waters, Billy Joel, The Red Hot Chili Peppers and the late Tom Petty. The highest-grossing concert tour by a woman went to Celine Dion, who made $101 million, largely from her Las Vegas stand.
As for underperforming concert tours, Katy Perry’s Witness tour was a flop, with the songstress unable to sell out stadiums. (In the words of one reporter, her tickets were selling for less than a box of tampons).
Sluggish sales figures are already being reported for Jay Z and Taylor Swift, whose 2018 tours are set to be among the most anticipated, and expensive, tours of the year. Classic rock looks to have another strong year in 2018, with Fleetwood Mac and The Eagles reuniting for another go.