From Jay Z and Beyonce to the Stones: A Look at 6 Top Tours of 2014
These A-list road warriors logged major miles this year: They grossed a staggering $843 million, set career and live-event records, and reached more than 8 million fans. Read on to find out who's ruled the concert circuit so far in 2014:
BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN & THE E STREET BAND
Tour: Wrecking Ball / High Hopes
This marathon ran from March 2012 to May 2014 and encompassed two albums, Wrecking Ball and High Hopes. It was the highest-grossing in The Boss' history as a live act and surpassed Madonna's Sticky and Sweet Tour as the fourth-highest-earning live excursion of all time, according to Billboard Boxscore. Springsteen's top 2014 overseas dates took place in Auckland, New Zealand, on March 1 and 2, when two sellouts at Mt Smart Stadium grossed $10.2 million and drew 73,958 concertgoers. His top North American show in 2014: May 14 at Hersheypark in Hershey, Pa., which sold 28,398 tickets and grossed $2,984,798.
FLORIDA GEORGIA LINE
Tour: This Is How We Roll
One of country music's best artist-development stories of the past year, Florida Georgia Line augmented dates with Jason Aldean with its own headlining mini-run at seven 6,000- to 9,000-seat minor-league ballparks. FGL's agent, Kevin Neal of William Morris Endeavor, drafted indie promoters Outback Concerts and Jam Productions to put together a route, and he says band manager Seth England came up with the idea to have Nelly open. "As far as we could determine, this [was] the first country tour to have a hip-hop artist as support," he says. It worked. The mini-tour broke attendance records in all seven markets.
THE ROLLING STONES
Tour: 14 on Fire
Since the beginning of the year, The Rolling Stones have moved 688,875 tickets to 17 sold-out shows that grossed $119,855,481. Those totals will grow when one of rock's most successful acts heads Down Under in the fall to make up Australian and New Zealand dates that were postponed following the death of Mick Jagger's girlfriend, L'Wren Scott. A second show has been added at Perth Arena on Nov. 1, as well as a Nov. 15 date at Hope Estate in Huntery Valley on Nov. 15. The band's nine-show European run, which started in May, plus its first show in Israel at Tel Aviv's Park Hayarkon on June 4, sold 484,831 tickets and grossed $78,240,080.
JAY Z & BEYONCE
Tour: On the Run
The Jay-Bey show has scored some of the highest per-concert stats in history. According to Omar Al-Joulani, vp North American touring for Live Nation, the promoter and producer of On the Run, the tour averaged a nightly take of more than $5.2 million and per-show attendance of close to 45,000 concertgoers. On the Run came together in two months' time (typical stadium tours can take more than a year) and was routed into secondary markets like Cincinnati and New Orleans "that turned out to be wildly successful," says Al-Joulani. The show also was inclusive of all fan demographics thanks to tickets ranging from $40 to $275.
Tour: The Cowboy Rides Away
On June 7, George Strait wrapped the last show of his (purportedly) last tour, The Cowboy Rides Away, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, by setting a record for single-show attendance at a U.S. stadium: 104,793. It's just a small part of his success. According to Boxscore, Strait grossed nearly $600 million during the last 20 years with a limited touring schedule. In the process, he and his team have emerged as touring innovators. He was one of the first country acts to bring booking in-house, and his genre-specific touring model, the George Strait Country Music Festival, existed long before Ozzy Osbourne's Ozzfest.
Based on the final stats from Taylor Swift's 15-month Red odyssey, she shattered the all-time revenue record for a single tour by a country artist. According to Boxscore, the total gross for Red surpassed the prior record held by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill's Soul2Soul co-headlining tour, which raked in $141 million in 2006 and 2007. The Red tour began March 13, 2013 in Omaha, Neb., and hit 12 countries before ending in Singapore on June 12. Swift visited 15 stadiums during the run. Her two shows at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. - where she performed for 110,712 fans and grossed $9.4 million - was her most successful stadium play on the tour.
This story originally appeared in the Aug. 23 issue of Billboard.