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Live Music Logs Record-Setting 2022 as Bad Bunny and Elton John Lead With Booming Stadium Tours

The sector grossed $6.28 billion this year, per Pollstar.

Elton John Concert Dodger Stadium - Disney Plus
Ben Gibson/Rocket Entertainment

As the year draws to a close, the live music industry can take comfort in having achieved record-setting revenues for 2022, thanks largely to the post-pandemic boost of new festivals, global stadium tours and astronomical box office receipts, correlating to sky-high ticket prices.

Live Nation’s most recent quarterly report claims 16 tours crossed the $100 million mark this year, with the number of concert tickets sold in the first three quarters of 2022 showing an increase of 37% since the pre-pandemic benchmarks of 2019. That year, touring was already on the up-and-up, logging a record-breaking gross of $5.5 billion. In 2022, that number has climbed dramatically with the year ending at a record-setting gross total of $6.28 billion, according to Pollstar’s Year End Top 200 Worldwide Tours chart. The increase can be linked to a combination of factors but is generally boosted by a rise in demand for live-music and the touring revival of legacy acts and top-selling artists like Los Bukis and Swedish House Mafia.

The biggest touring story of the year, not surprisingly, is the boom in stadium engagements. In total, Pollstar’s list of top 100 stadiums tallied over $2.68 billion in gross this year — an increase of more than 81% from 2019’s stadium haul of $1.48 billion.

Among the artists touring stadiums in 2022: the Weeknd, Coldplay, Daddy Yankee, Billy Joel, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Def Leppard & Mötley Crüe, Dua Lipa, Zac Brown, Eagles, Daddy Yankee, Iron Maiden, Blackpink, Morgan Wallen, the Lumineers, Dead & Co., Garth Brooks, Lady Gaga and countless others.

However, two distinct artists led the pack. Bad Bunny and Elton John top Pollstar’s Worldwide Touring chart, with the Puerto Rican rap titan grossing $393.3 million, and John logging $274 million gross for the year. Bunny managed to swing two different-sized tours running in the same year. His first sold-out trek “El Último Tour Del Mundo,” was a 36-date venture which ran from Feb. 2022 in Denver and ended in Miami on April 3. In total, it grossed $113 million. The latter half of 2022 was ruled by his “World’s Hottest Tour,” which hit stadiums across the U.S. starting in August before heading to Latin America and grossing $269 million with 1.3 million tickets through the year-end’s Nov. 16 chart cut-off date.

John’s 65-date “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” sits at No. 2 after first hitting the road more than four years ago and will continue raking in the gold as it finally wraps next summer. Because of its length and popularity, its likely the John tour will pit the English icon against another U.K. favorite — Ed Sheeran, who currently claims the highest gross ever for a single tour with his “Divide” trek that reached $776 million when it closed in 2019.

Sheeran once again hit the road this year in support of his previous records on the “Mathematics” tour, a European stadium trek, that earned $251 million gross this year and enters Pollstar’s chart at No. 3. Sheeran is also the only concert performer to hit the 3 million mark in sold tickets with 3,047,694 sold over 63 shows in 28 venues throughout the year for a massive average of 48,376 tickets sold per show.

Harry Styles’ “Love on Tour” sits at No. 4 in the Top 100 based on its box office glory that kicked off in September of last year with a string of North American arena dates. Stadiums followed in 2022 with the singer’s rescheduled 23-show European run that kicked off in June. He performed in 15 countries through the end of July, selling more than 638,000 tickets.

And who could forget the singer’s mini residencies — most notably, the historic string of 15 nights at New York’s Madison Square Garden. That run logged a total of 276,852 tickets sold and rang in a $63 million gross – the highest gross of the year for a single venue worldwide, according to Pollstar. Styles had another 12-night run at Los Angeles’ Kia Forum where he left with $38 million in sales from over 200,000 tickets sold.

The historic feats continue as this becomes the first year that each tour in the top 10 grossed over $100 million and the top five each took in more than $200 million — with inflation playing a factor. Rise in ticket prices placed the Top 100 Worldwide ticket sales in 2022 at 59.2 million, surpassing 2019’s total of 57.7 million tickets. On Pollstar’s North American Top 200 chart, ticket prices increased 19% from $87.19 in 2019 to cross the three-figure barrier of $103.71 in 2022.

And as 2022 comes to a close, it’s clear 2023 will ring in another big year for the live music industry. Taylor Swift’s “Eras Tour” has already managed to break the internet with an unprecedented, and drama-filled, record turnout for presales on Ticketmaster, and hints of a possible stadium/arena trek from Beyoncé has fans ready to drop thousands for a ticket. Not to mention the several confirmed tours of stars who have already made 2022 a standout year like Ed Sheeran, Elton John, Harry Styles, Dead & Co. (the band’s final trek), the Weeknd, Def Leppard/Mötley Crüe, Billy Joel and Stevie Nicks, among others.