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The Year in Touring Charts 2019: Ed Sheeran Meets The Rolling Stones in Boxscore History

Ed Sheeran
Sergei Bobylev\TASS via Getty Images

Ed Sheeran performs during his world tour on July 19, 2019 at at Otkritie Arena in Moscow.

2019 tours by Sheeran, P!nk, Elton John & The Stones carry over to 2019’s year-end lists, while the year-end Top Tours chart deepens to reflect busy business.

Months after Ed Sheeran wrapped the record-setting The Divide Tour, he adds another incredible Billboard Boxscore stat to an already-embarrassing list. As the 2019 year-end Boxscore charts close (see charts, below), Sheeran is the second artist in Boxscore history to have the top-grossing tour for two consecutive years. According to figures reported to Billboard Boxscore, he grossed $223.7 million and sold 2,587,445 tickets.   

Billboard's Year-End Boxscore charts are based on engagements that played between Nov. 1, 2018 and Oct. 31, 2019.    

The Rolling Stones are the only other act to achieve this two-timer feat, having topped the 1998-99 year-end lists. But while they earned top-grossing honors in both years, the were beat in total attendance by Dave Matthews Band and NSYNC in 1999, making Sheeran the first act to ever out-gross and outsell all artists for two years in a row.   

Sheeran is one of six artists to win two (or more) year-end gold medals. The Grateful Dead (1991; 1993) and Madonna (2004; 2012) each scored two top honors. Bon Jovi did it three times over six years (2008; 2010; 2013), The Rolling Stones topped the list five times (1995; 1998-99; 2003; 2006), and U2 holds the record with seven year-end wins (1992; 1997; 2001; 2005; 2009; 2011; 2017).  

Explore All of Billboard's 2019 Year-End Charts

View All of Billboard's 2018 Year-End Boxscore Charts

As previously reported, The Divide Tour ran from March 17, 2017 through Aug. 26, 2019, becoming the highest grossing and best-selling tour of all time along the way. The trek’s final $776.2 million gross eclipsed U2’s $736.4 million for The 360° Tour (2009-11).

 

 

From the launch of Billboard’s monthly Boxscore reports through the close of Sheeran’s tour, he played consistently on the Top Tours ranking. He made the 30-position list in all seven months for which he was eligible, topping April’s recap and placing in the top 10 for six of the seven months.

Sheeran topped 2018’s year-end ranking with a meatier $429.5 million, setting the record for the highest year-end gross ever. The 48% drop in 2019 is reflected in the number of shows that he played, performing 54 concerts in 2019 versus 99 in 2018. The tour also played 105 dates in 2017, grossing $122.3 million and hitting No. 6 on that year’s final chart. His 2017 run swept through arenas worldwide, before graduating to stadiums in 2018-19.

P!nk scores the 2019 year-end Top Tours No. 2 spot with $216.9 million. The enduring pop superstar, recently named Billboard’s Legend of Live, continued the 2018-19 Beautiful Trauma World Tour with 68 shows through Aug. 19. After 39 arena shows in North America (March 1 – May 22), she embarked on her first-ever full leg of stadium dates, where she delivered $126.8 million over dates shows in Europe.

 

 

BTS is No. 3 on the 2019 recap, with $196.4 million and 1.6 million tickets sold. Their tour covered shows in Asia, Europe, and North and South America. It is a major achievement for the South Korean superstars, as it is the highest year-end ranking in Billboard Boxscore history for an act that performs primarily in a non-English language.

Elton John takes the No. 4 spot with the continuation of his Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour. He grossed $194 million in the 2019 tracking period. Much like Sheeran and P!nk’s tours, John played consistently throughout the year, topping two monthly Boxscore recaps (February and September).

 

 

 

 

 

Fronted by Sheeran, the leaders of this year’s Top Tours chart are closer to earth than the few gargantuan tours that reigned over 2018. Sheeran, Taylor Swift, and Beyoncé & Jay-Z all hit career highs with massive global stadium tours, topping $400 million (Sheeran’s The Divide Tour), $300 million (Swift’s Reputation Stadium Tour), and $250 million (The Carters’ On The Run II Tour).

This year’s heavy hitters didn’t reach those stratospheric heights, mostly due to circumstance. Sheeran and P!nk had abbreviated 2019 legs that wrapped in August. BTS played select markets around the world. The Rolling Stones swept North American stadiums in a short summer leg that complimented their 2017-18 European dates. But as you look further down the Top Tours ranking, you’ll see major tours stack up, reaching across generations and genres.

Billboard extended the Top Tours chart from 25 positions to 40 this year, highlighting the touring industry’s strong showing in 2019. While 2018’s top 10 couldn’t be matched, 2019 starts catching up outside the upper tier. The Spice Girls are at No. 15 with $78.2 million, narrowly edging out 2018’s No. 15 tour (Celine Dion; $76.5 million). And then the gap starts to widen: Hugh Jackman at No. 20 with $70.7 million (Dead & Company was No. 20 last year with $56.2 million) and Dead & Company at No. 25 with $63.1 million (Jay-Z was No. 25 last year with $46 million). That’s a 39% increase over Jay-Z’s 2018 total, which capped the 25-position ranking. This year, Drake rounds out the list at No. 40 with a gross of $44 million, a total that would have positioned him at No. 27 just last year.

 

 

 

 

2019 Billboard Year in Music