Seasoned veterans once again dominated the touring business in 2003. The top three tours for the year to Nov. 18 were by the Rolling Stones (grossing $299.5 million), Bruce Springsteen ($181.7 million

Seasoned veterans once again dominated the touring business in 2003. The top three tours for the year to Nov. 18 were by the Rolling Stones (grossing $299.5 million), Bruce Springsteen ($181.7 million) and Cher ($76.3 million).

The Stones staked their claim as the top touring act on the planet. The band's ambitious Licks world tour, produced by Michael Cohl's TGA Entertainment, played to more than 3.4 million people, exceeding expectations (Bulletin, Nov. 26). "We're never that aggressive in our projections," Cohl says. "It's always nice when you come up with an idea, go through rehearsals, go up with the first dates on sale, then start playing the shows, and maybe it works."

Rounding out the top 10 tours of the year were Fleetwood Mac ($69.2 million), Dixie Chicks ($62.2 million), Eagles ($53.7 million), Dave Matthews Band ($52.6 million), Aerosmith & Kiss ($50 million), Metallica's Summer Sanitarium ($48.5 million) and Billy Joel & Elton John ($45.8 million).

It was a landmark year for country touring, with five acts among the top 25. After the Chicks, the top country tours were by Toby Keith ($41.2 million), Kenny Chesney ($39.7 million), Tim McGraw ($33 million) and Shania Twain ($25.3 million). Chesney, with 1.15 million tickets sold, outdrew every other country act, including the Chicks. Other country acts--including Alabama ($20 million), Brooks & Dunn ($18.8 million), George Strait ($14.8 million) and Alan Jackson ($11.5 million)--also put together successful tours.

This was not the case for rap. In a typical year for the genre-which has a history of huge retail success that fails to translate into box-office muscle-there was only one rapper among the top 25 touring artists. 50 Cent rang up $23 million in ticket sales, much of it co-headlining with Jay-Z on the Roc-the-Mic tour.

The numbers are more promising for Latin music. Although no Latin artists cracked the top 25, several did well, including Shakira (with $14.5 million), Mana ($12.4 million), Luis Miguel ($9 million) and Vincente Fernandez ($9 million).

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