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Concert biz surges back

Ticket grosses post 11.2% gain in first six months vs. 2010

Once again, U2 helped revive the worldwide concert biz, which rebounded from a dismal 2010 during the first six months of this year, showing an 11.2% leap in total gross-dollar ticket sales, according to midyear analysis by concert tracker Pollstar.

Cumulative worldwide gross of $1.65 billion reflected a boost of $166.2 million over the same period in 2011. However, total tickets sold — 19.4 million — were down 2.1% year-to-year. Gains come as the recorded music biz posted a 1% uptick for the first six months of 2011 vs. 2010, marking the first gain for album sales since 2004 (Variety, July 6.)

North American tours reaped a total of $1.12 billion through June 30, showing an increase of nearly $157 million, or 16.2%. Ticket sales rose: 16.7 million ducats were moved, up 5.3% above the 15.9 million sold the first six months of 2010.

Pollstar editor Gary Bongiovanni attributed the improved business to increased conservatism on the part of both promoters and artists, with greater attention paid to such issues as ticket pricing and length of time between market dates.

“It all adds up to giving fans a better value for their dollar in tough economic times, and the reward for that is fewer empty seats,” Bongiovanni said.

Last year’s postponed U2 tour served to depress grosses for the year. During the first six months of 2011, the Irish group’s top-selling tour grossed $164 million, selling nearly 1.68 million tickets and taking an average of $10.25 million per date.

Other top tours during the first six months of 2011 were Roger Waters (grossing $97.9 million), Bon Jovi ($92.1 million), Lady Gaga ($65.3 million) and Usher ($62.2 million).

Rounding out the top 10 tours were Kylie Minogue ($52.1 million), Kenny Chesney ($46.7 million), Andre Rieu ($46 million), Elton John ($44.6 million) and Taylor Swift ($42.9 million).

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