With every dollar spent at the box office, every ticket scanned and every spin of the turnstile, the live show consistently proves to be the vibrant lifeblood of the entertainment experience.
For many years Billboard has provided readers with a year-end analysis of the concert touring business-an annual snapshot of the live entertainment experience and the artists making the largest impact on the worldwide concert stage.
In the Year in Music special feature, Billboard identifies the hottest tours at the box office, the venues with the highest ticket sales revenue and the top promoters working hard behind the scenes.
The touring charts in this issue are all based on worldwide gross ticket sales from venues of all sizes-clubs, theaters, performing arts centers, amphitheaters, arenas, stadiums and outdoor festival sites. Billboard counts them all.
The time period covered in this year-end report is roughly the middle of November 2011 through the same time this year. Nov. 9, 2011, through Nov. 13, 2012, to be exact.
Any show reported during that time frame was eligible to be included in this year's counts. Obviously it can take a few days for a show to be reported, so Billboard counted concerts that occurred as far back as Nov. 1, 2011, as long as they weren't counted in last year's totals and were reported on Nov. 9, 2011, or after.
Included in this special issue are charts that rank the top 25 tours and the top 25 promoters and six charts ranking the top 10 venues in six different categories: amphitheaters, stadiums and other venues separated into four size classifications. We also produce a ranking of the top 10 festivals as well as a top 25 Boxscores chart that lists individual concert engagements with the highest collective gross. On the Boxscores chart, Billboard counts the gross revenue for an artist's entire run at a single venue. It can be one show or many.
All of the concerts ranked on this year's top 25 Boxscores chart were multiple-show engagements. The most shows included in one Boxscore were 32 performances by Cirque du Soleil's "Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour" at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas in December 2011. Nine of the top 25 were two-show runs. The No. 1 Boxscore of the year was the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival with $47.3 million in ticket sales from a six-day run during two consecutive weekends in April.
With more than $228 million in ticket sales revenue, Madonna's MDNA tour ended the year at No. 1 on the top 25 tours chart where we rank the tours that have the highest overall gross from shows reported during the eligibility time period.
Besides solo artists, bands and vocal groups of various sizes we also considered comedy acts, choral groups and orchestral ensembles eligible for inclusion. This year we stretched the boundaries a bit by including Cirque du Soleil's touring show featuring the music of Michael Jackson because of the late King of Pop's massive historical impact on popular music.
The top 25 promoters chart ranks the concert promotion companies that generate the most revenue as a promoter, whether it's from an event it promoted solely or as a co-promoter. For the venue charts, we counted all of the ticket sales data reported during the period of eligibility. In addition to concert totals, we included grosses from family shows and children's events, motor sports, ice shows, circuses-most any event where tickets were sold to the general public. We also counted certain athletic events like gymnastics meets, skating competitions or tennis exhibitions, but we didn't include box-office counts from home games by professional sports franchises or university athletic teams playing in their home arena.
Box-office data is reported to Billboard by concert promoters, venues, booking agents or artist managers, but most of the data comes from promoters. Totals are reported continuously throughout the year and come from all over the world. All of the Boxscore charts in this special feature, as well as the charts in each weekly issue of Billboard, are ranked by gross and are worldwide in their scope.
In each issue of Billboard, a Boxscore chart is included that ranks the 35 top-grossing Boxscores that were reported during the previous week. The regular Boxscore "week" begins on Wednesday and closes the following Tuesday. After the weekly deadline on Tuesday, the current week's Boxscore chart is compiled for the issue that prints at the end of that week.
There are two weekly online platforms for Boxscores. Every Wednesday, the day after the weekly deadline, all concerts reported during the previous week are posted on Billboard.biz. On Thursdays, an article titled "Hot Tours" is posted on Billboard.com listing the 10 tours that had the highest collective gross from all of their totals reported during the previous week.