||Reunions Will Heat Up the Roster of Summer Concerts
Many of music's biggest names will light up concert venues in 2012, including several -- among them, the Beach Boys and Van Halen -- who will be getting the band back together after years of anticipation.
The live music industry is coming off a year in which revenues steadied after a sobering 2010. Touring trade publication Pollstar estimates that the top 100 tours of North America grossed $2.3 billion, up 6.3% over 2010's $2.2 billion, but still below the 2.5 billion earned in 2009. Those tours sold 34.7 million tickets, a drop of 2.6% from 2010's 35.7 million but offset by rising ticket prices, which climbed 8.8% to an average $67.22.
The industry has reason to expect a very good year, says Pollstar editor Gary Bongiovanni.
"There are a lot of major attractions touring, and given the current sense of growing optimism with the economy and consumer spending, (we) would probably project a record year in terms of revenue," he says. "The only question will be if we push the envelope too far on ticket prices and there is push back in the other direction."
Brian Wilson rejoins the Beach Boys as they celebrate the group's 50th anniversary with a 50-date tour that kicks off April 27 at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. The reunited band released its debut album Surfin' Safari in 1962.
Van Halen will be joined by lead vocalist David Lee Roth, who left the band to go solo in 1985. A Different Kind of Truth, the band's first album with Roth since 1983's 1984, is due Feb. 7. Black Sabbath will hit the road with frontman Ozzy Osbourne and record a Rick Rubin-produced album for release later in the year. Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham have said they will be back with Fleetwood Mac. There is speculation that the Rolling Stones, who are also celebrating a 50th anniversary, will go out again.
"It would be a surprise if the Stones did not capitalize on their anniversary, but it's getting a little late in the game for a full-blown arena or stadium tour for this year," says Billboard's senior editor, touring, Ray Waddell. "If and when they tour, particularly if it's billed as their last, it will be massive."
No dates have been announced, but British singer Adele is expected to mount what would be one the biggest tours of the year. Bongiovanni says there's a lot of pent-up demand for Adele, whose second album, 21, has sold more than 6 million copies and topped the Billboard album chart 16 times. She was forced to cut her tour short in October for vocal chord surgery.
Madonna will be going on the road for the first time since 2008-2009's Sticky & Sweet tour, and Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band will make their first trek without late saxophonist Clarence Clemons. Roger Waters, Katy Perry, Drake, Neil Diamond, Kelly Clarkson, Brad Paisley, Lady Antebellum, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Radiohead, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga will also be crisscrossing the map.
Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw's 19-city Brother of the Sun stadium tour promises to be huge and will feature Grace Potter & The Nocturnals and Jake Owen as special guests. The tour kicks off June 2 in Tampa.
"Country remains strong with a healthy mix of arena-level headliners and developing acts," Waddell says. "Rock is making a comeback of sorts. Nickelback, Radiohead, Coldplay and a wealth of heritage acts are sure to sell tickets, and Black Keys are moving up to the arena level. Electronic/dance music is now a solid ticket seller beyond just the festivals, and there are some hard-working young hip-hop acts that have revitalized that genre."
Festivals will continue to attract top acts and droves of fans. The premier Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, Calif., for example, this year expands to two weekends -- April 13-15 and April 20-22 -- with identical lineups headed by the Black Keys, Radiohead and Dr. Dre.
"The festivals remain the most robust part of the business in North America," says Waddel.
Top Tours of 2011
Artist | North American gross (in millions)
U2 | $156
Taylor Swift | $97.7
Kenny Chesney | $84.6
Lady Gaga | $63.7
Bon Jovi | $57.1
Elton John | $51.8
Sade | $48.6
Kanye West/Jay-Z | $48.3
Lil Wayne | $44.4
Celine Dion | $41.2
(Source: USA Today, 01/19/12)
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