Chart Beat

Trans-Siberian Orchestra Tops December Boxscore Report With Annual Holiday Outing

Trans Siberian Orchestra
Jason McEachern

Trans Siberian Orchestra

Every December, the year’s most dedicated road warriors reach the end of their touring cycle and wrap months-long treks or pause ongoing runs for a holiday break. But while the biggest names in pop, rock, hip hop and beyond go into the briefest of hibernations, Trans-Siberian Orchestra hits the pavement, reaching its stride through the last days of the year. And 2019 was no different, as the holiday-rock-symphony ascends to the top of Billboard’s monthly Top Tours ranking.

After warming up in November with a $20 million dollar run, Trans-Siberian Orchestra played 69 shows between Dec. 1-30, grossing $46.8 million and selling 706,000 tickets according to figures reported to Billboard Boxscore.

The $66.8 million haul makes 2019 a record year for Trans-Siberian Orchestra, marking the biggest gross of its 20-year touring career. The $613,000 per-night average is worlds away from the $83,300 pace of its debut 1999 tour, while 2019’s average of 9,324 tickets per night nearly quadruples 1999’s 2,447 average.

Playing nearly 70 shows in one calendar month requires a combination of hard work, ingenuity, and a bit of magic. Each year, TSO employs two separate touring ensembles, dividing the North American tour into East and West. And as a family-oriented tour, the group adds matinee shows in most cities. In 2019, the tour included 43 markets with two shows, plus 23 markets with a single show, adding up to 109 shows in 66 cities over the course of 48 days.

Of the 66 engagements around North America, TSO broke the million-dollar mark in 32, or 48%. The top markets of the 2019 tour include Tampa, Fla. ($1.7 million; Amalie Arena), Dallas, Texas ($1.7 million; American Airlines Center), and Cleveland, Ohio ($1.7 million; Rocket Mortgage Center). All three of those played in December, as were almost all the tour’s top 20 highest-grossing engagements; the five lowest occurred in November. It’s a familiar pattern, as TSO’s snowballing momentum peaks with the holiday rush around Christmas and New Year’s Eve. This year marks the fourth consecutive December than the group has the top-grossing tour.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s dominance over December held back U2 (No. 2) and three-time monthly chart-topper Elton John (No. 3). U2 employed the opposite strategy from Trans-Siberian Orchestra, playing just six maximum-capacity stadium shows in Asia to earn a robust $31.9 million. While TSO’s consistency meant that they could reign over Top Tours without placing any individual engagements on the Top Boxscores chart (the second artist to do so following P!nk in March 2019), U2 sees all six of their shows crack the ranking, including the Dec. 4-5 Saitama Super Arena in Japan (No. 1) and Manilla’s Philippine Arena on Dec. 11 (No. 4).

John follows the Irish quarter on the Top Tours chart as well as Top Boxscores, ranking No. 2 with a four-day run at Rod Laver Arena in Sydney, Australia. These shows collectively grossed $8 million and sold 51,600 tickets. He also places multiple entries on the chart, at Nos. 18 (Adelaide’s Botanic Park), 28 (Brisbane Entertainment Centre), and 30 (Perth’s HBF Stadium). Notably, both U2 and John went East for the winter, playing in Asia and Australia’s summer. The Rocketman has 28 more scheduled dates in Australia through March 7, going out with a bang at the Western Sydney Stadium.

But the December charts’ holiday energy doesn’t end with TSO’s reign over U2 and Elton John. The top-grossing venue of December is New York’s Radio City Music Hall, making it the first monthly Boxscore recap where a theater has out-earned all other venues. The venue grossed $69.2 million, all thanks to the annual return of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular with The Rockettes, marking the biggest one-month gross for a venue of any size since the February 2019 launch of Billboard’s monthly recaps.