||Concert Tour Sales Fizzled Last Year
In the latest blow to the beleaguered music industry, revenue from its chief bright spot, concert tours, declined sharply in 2010, as strapped consumers stayed away in droves and aging acts failed to make up for a thin crop of young superstars.
The box-office take for the 50 biggest grossing tours in the world fell 12% to $2.93 billion, from $3.34 billion in 2009, according to Pollstar, a trade magazine considered the leading monitor of ticket sales.
In North America, the drop was even more pronounced, with a 15% decline to $1.69 billion.
Underscoring how the industry leans on aging but tried-and-true acts, Bon Jovi's 53-city tour was the biggest in the world this year, grossing $201.1 million.
By comparison, a 31-city tour by U2 topped the list for 2009, with a haul of $311 million.
Even before this year, signs of trouble had been brewing. Though industry-wide total grosses had increased in eight of the previous nine years, that growth had largely been driven by rising ticket prices, even as the number of tickets sold held roughly even.
That led many in the industry to warn that if fans' tolerance for rising prices were to wane, the gravy train could grind to a halt.
That appeared to be part of the equation in 2010, even as promoters scrambled to offer last-minute discounts, slashing prices for some underperforming shows to $10 or $20 a ticket.
Among the acts whose tickets were discounted were the Jonas Brothers, Rihanna, Santana with Steve Winwood, Creed, Maroon 5 and The "American Idol" live tour.
World-wide, average ticket prices increased 3.9% to $76.69, up from $73.83 in 2009.
In North America, the average price declined $1.55, or 2%, as concert promotion giant Live Nation Entertainment Inc. engaged in widespread last-minute discounting.
Despite those efforts, the number of tickets sold declined both world-wide and in North America -- and even more steeply than the number of shows did, suggesting weak interest among fans.
Throughout the world, concert-goers bought 38.3 million tickets this year, down 15% from 2009's 45.3 million. The 26.2 million tickets sold in North America represented a 12% drop from the 2009 level of 29.9 million. The ongoing slump in recorded music sales has been a major hurdle to getting top acts to accept less money for concerts, as concerts have become an important financial cushion.
Some in the concert industry had argued that because a live concert is a unique experience that can't be duplicated digitally and downloaded, their business would be immune to the problems that have pushed down recorded music.
U.S. album sales were down 13% in 2010 compared with 2009, to 319 million, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Sales of CDs, which are often more profitable for record labels than cheaper digital albums, were off 20%. Sales of individual digital songs ticked up a mere 1% compared with 2009, to just over 1.1 billion.
(Source: The Wall Street Journal, 01/03/11)
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