Grateful Dead Concerts Made $52 Million, Set Record for Biggest Music PPV Event Ever

Jay Blakesberg

The "core four" with Trey Anastasio, Bruce Hornsby and Jeff Chimenti, greet the Soldier Field crowd on July 5.

Numbers coming in on the Grateful Dead's Fare Thee Well concerts at Levi Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., and Soldier Field in Chicago support the notion that the 50th anniversary/farewell run was one of the most successful events in live music history.

You'll Never Guess How Much the Grateful Dead
Earned During Their Fare Thee Well Shows

The Levi Stadium shows June 27-28 grossed $21.5 million from attendance of 151,650, and the Soldier Field shows July 3-5 grossed a whopping $30.7 million from a Soldier Field record attendance of 210,283. The Fare Thee Well total of $52.2 million is close to Billboard's prediction back in April of a $50 million event. Fare Thee Well was produced by Peter Shapiro and Madison House. 

Additionally, the five-night live broadcast of "Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Year of Grateful Dead" was officially the largest syndication of a live music event in history, according to broadcast producer Live Alliance. FTW set the record for the biggest music pay-per-view event of all time, with more than 400,000 cable/satellite subscriptions and online streams, a number that will continue to grow as the event remains available to both satellite and cable subscribers via Video-On-Demand until August 2.

Grateful Dead Fare Thee Well: The Chicago Shows in Pictures

This was the first time a musical event has hit the six-figure buy mark since 1999, when a Backstreet Boys concert generated 160,000 PPV buys, less than half of the number of stream/PPV purchases for Fare Thee Well. Working with some of the world’s largest media companies -- including DirecTV, Dish Network, iNDEMAND, Vubiquity, Bell Canada, Rogers Canada, Major League Baseball Advanced Media and YouTube (for their first ever paid music-stream event), Live Alliance formed partnerships that ensured the broadcast was available on virtually any media device around the world. Given that fans gathered in bars, theaters, clubs, ballrooms and homes to watch the Dead's farewell, the number of actual viewers is far larger than even the 160,000 buys suggests.