There’s a lot of money in touring once you hit superstar level and a new chart from Pollstar proves it. If you don’t know Pollstar, it’s basically the Billboard of the live music world, providing charts of the ticket grosses and sales from a wide variety of venues. The publication decided to look back at its 40 year history and see how much the major artists have made over that period. There were more than 150 that made well over a $100 million, and 15 that have made more than a $1 billion in that time frame. Let’s look at the artists that made cracked that billion level.
|1||The Rolling Stones||$2.165 Billion|
|3||Elton John||$1.748 Billion|
|4||Bruce Springsteen||$1.527 Billion|
|6||Celine Dion||$1.354 Billion|
|7||Bon Jovi||$1.329 Billion|
|10||Paul McCartney||$1.193 Billion|
|11||Billy Joel||$1.187 Billion|
|12||Kenny Chesney||$1.110 Billion|
|13||Dave Mathews Band||$1.085 Billion|
As you can see, only 2 artists made it to the $2 Billion mark, The Rolling Stones and U2. There was only one country star (Kenny Chesney) and one R&B star (Beyonce) that made the list. The rest were legacy rock or pop artists.
I would venture to say that most of the money earned by these artists came in the last 10 years as the industry has matured and ticket prices have soared. Now that dynamic pricing has been introduced in concert tickets (as noted in the recent Springsteen controversy), we can expect those numbers to rise even higher.
It’s true that inflation has hit the live concert ticket industry hard. It’s harder to find experienced crew, since so many of the die hard pros retired during covid. Transportation costs are greater now. Venue rental and merch prices have risen, all contributing to the increasingly higher ticket prices.
The above chart only looks at the top 15, but if you look at number 100 (Tool), you find that they made over $269 million. That shows that there’s a lot of money to be made on the road, but that mostly applies to those that have made it to superstar status. These numbers don’t make you feel that good if you’re still a struggling artist sleeping in the van in between gigs.
Still, it’s a worthy goal to shoot for, as there really is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.