U2's '360 Tour' was year's top draw

The concert industry continued a recession-proof boom in 2009, with U2’s “360 Tour”leading the way, according to year-end numbers issued by ticket resale marketplace StubHub.

The eBay unit’s gross dollar sales for concert tickets increased 40% from 2008, marking a second consecutive year of growth at that level, while there was a 65% increase in concert ticket volume.

U2’s elaborate show was the top-grossing tour of the year, as well as the top-grossing concert tour in StubHub’s 10-year history, outdoing “Hannah Montana”and Police tours in 2007-08 and Madonna’s “Sticky and Sweet”trek of last year.

Trailing the Irish band as top grossers this year were Bruce Springsteen, Phish, Taylor Swift, Britney Spears, the Dave Matthews Band, Elton John, the Jonas Brothers, Kenny Chesney and Metallica.

U2 was responsible for nine of the 10 top-grossing individual concerts of 2009, with a pair of shows at New Jersey’s Giants Stadium heading the list. A Springsteen venue-closing concert at Giants Stadium ranked 10th.

The top-priced tickets for the year were for the Oct. 29 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame benefit concert at Madison Square Garden, at $424 a pop.

Jam band Phish’s reunion shows accounted for both the next-highest ticket prices ($384 and $359 for the initial March gigs at the Hampton Coliseum in Virginia) and the lowest ticket price ($29 for a November tour date at Detroit’s Cobo Arena). The band sold a limited number of tickets for its fall shows through the Phish website.

StubHub identified the 10 highest-growth North American concert markets as Birmingham, Ala.; Richmond, Va.; Edmonton, Alberta; Austin/San Antonio, Texas; Nashville; Tampa/St. Petersburg, Fla.; Calgary, Alberta; Albany and Buffalo, N.Y.; and Columbus, Ohio.

In an addendum, StubHub took a swipe at so-called “paperless ticketing.”The method has been touted by Ticketmaster — which is finalizing a merger with concert promotion behemoth Live Nation — as a way of stymieing scalping and reselling.

The firm was opposed to “the anti-consumer and anti-competitive path paperless has taken to date, limiting consumer choice and eliminating competitive pricing.”

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