Britain's National Arenas Assn. reports an upbeat live-music market in 2004, thanks partly to performances of top U.S. acts.

Britain's National Arenas Assn. reports an upbeat live-music market in 2004, thanks partly to performances of top U.S. acts.

The Royal Albert Hall in London and the Point in Dublin joined the NAA's membership for the first time in 2004, bringing the number of venues audited to 17. Member venues hosted 964 shows in 2004 in front of 5.7 million people.

The United Kingdom's top 15 arenas saw the number of 2004 music events jump 11% from the previous year to 638 shows, with attendance up 5% to 4.5 million.

"The key thing about 2004 is that everybody this time last year was positive; there was so much product out there," Peter Tudor, NAA chairman and sales/marketing director at Wembley Arena, tells Billboard.biz. "You have to remember that things have been up and down since 2001; 2002 was an amazing year and, for 2003, it seemed to be doom and gloom."

He says a great variety of domestic and U.S. acts helped boost business. The number of visiting U.S. artists -- including Madonna, Usher and Britney Spears --- grew to 50, from 36 the previous year.

British artists played to more than 2.2 million people, says NAA.

For music fans, the average ticket price increased 9% to £32.12 ($61.99) last year, compared with £29.10 ($56.16) in 2003. The average entertainment ticket price rose 7% to £24.96 ($48.17) from £23.23 ($44.80).

NAA members also include Wembley Arena and Earls Court in London, the Cardiff International Arena in Wales and the Hallam FM Arena in Sheffield, England.