There's one word that best summarizes the 2020 midyear touring charts: zero. That’s how much money the concert industry has generated since mid-March, when the world’s two largest concert promoters halted touring. It’s also how much promoters, venues and artists are forecast to make through the end of the year.
Three quarters with zero revenue will be devastating for the live-music business, but the impact isn’t fully visible on the current midyear charts due to the delayed reporting window -- Billboard’s midyear period covers Nov. 1, 2019, to April 30, 2020. Nearly all touring shows were pulled off the road on March 14 because of the coronavirus, meaning the midyear charts include six weeks with zero ticket sales, with most venues showing a year-over-year drop around 20% to 25%. If these charts had been calculated according to calendar year, it would have been far worse.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. 2020 was on track to be the best touring year in history, one that would have beat 2019, which itself was a record year. Early ticket-buying data shows consumer spending was on track to hit an all-time high, with more bands and artists than ever competing for fans’ dollars. In fact, the top five tours at the midpoint — Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour, Céline Dion’s Courage Tour and jaunts by U2, Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Post Malone — were outperforming last year’s top five tours at midpoint by over $10 million combined, even though 2020’s midyear reporting period was shorter than 2019’s.