North American concert sales plunge in first half

Thu Jul 8, 2010 6:10pm EDT
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Combined ticket sales for the biggest concert tours in North America during the first half of the year fell to their lowest point since 2005 as the weak economy and "piggish" ticket prices kept fans at home, a trade publication reported on Thursday.

The top 100 tours grossed $965.5 million during the first six months, a 17 percent slide from the year-ago period, and the lowest for the time frame since the $731 million haul in the first half of 2005, according to Pollstar magazine.

High-profile outings by the Eagles, the Jonas Brothers and the latest crop of American Idol finalists suffered poor sales. Christina Aguilera, Limp Bizkit and the Go-Gos' canceled their tours, and organizers of the all-female Lilith Fair organizers said last week that they had scrapped about a third of the shows.

Pollstar said fans "may be turned off by piggish top-tier prices, resentful of ticket add-on fees, and downright angry when they hear about discounted tickets after they have paid full price."

But it noted that tours by Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift and rock band Muse did well, as did singer/songwriter James Taylor's trek with Carole King.

On a worldwide basis, Australian rockers AC/DC came out on top, selling $177.5 million worth of tickets, followed by Bon Jovi with $75.7 million and Metallica with $60.8 million, Pollstar said. Taylor and King took in $53.9 million, ahead of the Black Eyed Peas with $48.4 million.

In the United States and Canada, Bon Jovi ($52.8 million), Taylor/King ($41 million), Swift ($34.2 million) and Paul McCartney ($31.5 million) led the field.

"Fans still crave live music and will come out to shows when they can afford it, despite the industry's misguided efforts to squeeze the fun out of the experience," Pollstar said.

(Reporting by Dean Goodman; Editing by Jill Serjeant)