Madonna leads list of 2009's top music tours

Fri Dec 18, 2009 6:50pm EST
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By Ray Waddell

NASHVILLE (Billboard) - A year ago, many were predicting a downturn -- if not disaster -- for the music touring industry in 2009 based on a gloomy economic forecast, particularly in North America.

A look at the top tours of the year shows that there were plenty of acts people wanted to see. A dozen of the top 25 tours topped 1 million in attendance, and Madonna and U2 reported 2.1 million and 3 million tickets sold, respectively. The numbers are based on data reported to Billboard Boxscore fro the print magazine issues dated December 6, 2008, through November 21, 2009.

In terms of grosses, five tours exceeded $100 million at the box office, and 18 were at $50 million-plus. Leading everyone is U2 with its groundbreaking 360 tour, which reported a staggering $311.6 million in grosses and 3 million in attendance from 44 sellouts. And that's just the first leg. U2's strategy of boosting capacities by staging a first-ever mobile 360-degree configuration clearly paid off. The band averaged more than $7 million in revenue and attendance of nearly 70,000 per show, surely the highest averages ever reported to Billboard Boxscore.

Not only is the Irish band's production fiscally sound, but it's also a crowd-pleaser. Word-of-mouth is driving ticket sales well into 2010.

With around 50 stadium shows scheduled for next year, compared with 44 in 2009, U2 is on a pace to top $600 million total, which will make it the highest-grossing tour ever, surpassing the Rolling Stones' Bigger Bang tour of 2005-07.


The second leg of Madonna's Sticky & Sweet tour finished second for the year, coming in at $222 million, on her way to the top-grossing solo tour ever. Madonna's numbers are also among the highest per-show averages ever, taking in an average $4.8 million in sales and 47,565 in attendance per show.

Bruce Springsteen continued his marathon with his E Street Band in 2009, morphing the Magic tour into the Working on a Dream tour without missing a beat. Springsteen's take for the year was $156.3 million from 72 shows and attendance of 1.7 million. The total take for the two tours, since October 2007, is $388 million and 4.1 million in attendance from 171 shows. Among them: the final shows of Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., and the Spectrum in Philadelphia.   Continued...