According to Pollstar’s year-end special features report on Top tours, ticket sales charts, industry pros weigh in 2018, the global landscape of live entertainment in 2018 includes some of the biggest names in the business.
Pollstar’s Top 100 World Wide tours totalled $5.6bn with 59.8mn tickets sold, compiled from 3,691 event records and top 100 North American tours totalled $3.7bn with 40mn tickets sold, compiled from 3,025 event records.
The report brought to light new figures supplied by box office monitor Pollstar, out of which stood out the worldwide concert industry’s record-setting $10.4bn earned from 152.1mn tickets in 12 months.
Ed Sheeran topped the list of touring artists in a single year. Sheeran and the nine other acts included in the Top 10 on the annual Top 100 Worldwide Tours chart all topped $100mn in sales – a rare occurrence but one that has happened in three previous years. This year, however, was first-time ever that gross revenue surpassed $2bn from just the Top 10 tours alone. In 2017, the Top 10 hit $1.8bn collectively at the box office, but this year’s group took it to the next level.
Pop artists make quite a showing among the Top 10 tours on the chart, taking six of the top seven slots. At No. 2 is Taylor Swift. Combined with Sheeran, the two racked up $777mn in sales – about 14 percent of the overall gross of the Top 100 Worldwide Tours. Pink, Bruno Mars and Justin Timberlake are also in the Top 10, along with the Jay-Z / Beyoncé co-bill adding their brand of hip-hop and R&B to the mix.
Sheeran’s enormous Divide run actually began in March 2017 in Turin, with the latest concert played on November 9, 2018 in Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The first Divide show in 2018 was on February 19 at the O2 Arena in London.
To date, including 2017’s concerts, Sheeran’s Divide run is already the third highest-grossing tour ever ($554.6mn) behind U2’s 360 ($735mn) and the Rolling Stones’ A Bigger Bang ($558mn). In 2018, Sheeran played 94 dates across Europe, Asia-Pacific, Asia and North America, with an average per-night gross of $4.6mn. If Sheeran can keep up that average across his 50 dates in 2019, his Divide tour will finish its three-year run by generating more than $660mn in ticket sales.
Taylor Swift’s Reputation tour, which recently became the highest-grossing ever live run in the US, generated $345mn worldwide in 2018, says Pollstar – the second biggest of the year behind Sheeran. In North America, Swift topped Pollstar’s Top 100 tours chart, grossing $277.3mn. Swift is now within $74.3mn of reaching $1bn in ticket sales across her career. Add in Jay Z and Beyoncé’s 2018 tour ($254.1mn), and the top three artist tours this year generated over $1bn in annual ticket sales.