Superstars of Live: 2016 Billboard Touring Awards Finalists

Kevin Mazur/Wireimage
“Beyoncé’s a superstar,” says Fogel of Live Nation, which presented her tour.

Against the backdrop of a steady decline in album sales, live music is stronger than ever, with double-digit growth nearly every year of the past decade, legions of fans flocking nightly to shows from clubs to stadiums and some $20 billion a year in global ticket sales, according to Billboard estimates.

Driving that business are not only artists but promoters, managers, booking agents, festival organizers and venues. The most successful players across the live music industry will be honored for their achievements Nov. 9 at the 13th annual Billboard Touring Awards, presented during the Billboard Touring Conference, Nov. 9 and 10 at the SLS Beverly Hills.

Award winners are chosen from among 51 finalists in 17 categories, based on attendance and ticket sales as compiled by Billboard Boxscore for events taking place between Oct. 1, 2015, and Sept. 30, 2016. Boxscore tour totals are not revealed before the awards. The Concert Marketing and Promotion Award winner also will be announced, chosen by Billboard editors from among the sponsors and brand agencies involved with tours by Beyoncé, Justin Bieber, Chance the Rapper, Florida Georgia Line, Guns N’ Roses and Brad Paisley.

Brian Murphy, president of the West Coast for AEG Live/Goldenvoice, has been selected to receive the Golden Circle Award, bestowed on an executive “who has shown outstanding passion, professionalism and commitment to presenting quality live entertainment over a lengthy career.”

Scooter Braun also will be honored as the 2016 recipient of the Humanitarian Award. And the band Bon Jovi will be on hand to accept the Legend of Live award, which honors performers who have made a significant and lasting contribution to live music and the touring business.

These are the touring industry’s road warriors who keep the turnstiles spinning, vying for recognition as the best in the business.

Contributors: Melinda Newman, Mitchell Peters, Richard Smirke, Ray Waddell


For the highest-grossing tour during the awards period.

The Formation World Tour

The stadium-filling power of The Formation World Tour put Beyoncé in contention for the top tour award. Opening April 27 at Marlins Park in Miami, the tour brought Beyoncé to New York for two sold-out nights at CitiField on June 6 and 7 that took in $11.5 million and sold 73,486 tickets, for the artist’s highest-grossing dates in North America. “Clearly you don’t go into a stadium tour unless you have expectations of being right [on demand],” says Arthur Fogel, president of global touring and chairman of global music at Live Nation. “Everybody was thrilled that it ended up working, but there was certainly expectation that the business would be great. At the end of the day, the results reflect where she’s at in the business: She’s a superstar.”

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
The River Tour

Springsteen reconvened The E Street Band to tour in support of The Ties That Bind: The River Collection, a box set released in December 2015 containing Springsteen’s 1980 double album, The River, plus bonus material. As the tour opened Jan. 16 at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, demand for tickets was intense. With early shows selling out, the tour went from 45 planned shows to 75, and the set list evolved as well. “The first round of indoor arena shows all began with a 20-song performance of The River, and the audience was extraordinarily responsive,” says Jon Landau, Springsteen’s longtime manager. “In Europe during the 27-show stadium run, Bruce loosened up the show structure, and we enjoyed some of our largest and most exciting audiences ever.”

A Head Full of Dreams Tour

On its first world tour since 2012, and the first run of the band’s career through North American stadiums, Coldplay generated massive numbers with its Head Full of Dreams Tour. After headlining the Super Bowl halftime show on Feb. 7, the group opened its tour in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on March 31. After summer dates in Europe, including a headlining set at the Glastonbury Festival in England on June 26, the North American tour leg began July 16 and 17 at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. Coldplay played one of the three highest-grossing tours of the year despite a ticket price that topped out at less than $200 and cost less than $30 on the low end. “We always have charged a reasonable ticket price, yet delivered a world-class production,” says Coldplay manager Dave Holmes.


For the artist whose tour sold the most tickets during the awards period.

The Formation World Tour

During her Formation World Tour, Beyoncé played only stadiums, resulting in per-show attendance of about 45,000. The highest overall attendance on the tour took place in London, where Beyoncé’s two sellouts at Wembley Stadium on July 2 and 3 drew 142,500 fans.

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
The River Tour

Playing arenas in North America, followed by stadiums across the United States and Europe, followed by more stadiums back home, Springsteen and The E Street Band drew some of the largest crowds in the history of the group. “With our three sellouts in Gothenberg [Sweden], we approached 180,000 people, making it one of our biggest markets of all time,” says Landau.

A Head Full of Dreams Tour

Long a stadium act in the rest of the world, Coldplay proved its stadium-level popularity in North America in 2016, packing outdoor venues coast to coast and augmenting the tour with a dozen additional arena sellouts. The band strategically booked stadiums for weekend shows and arenas during the week, allowing Coldplay to hit more markets where it has a touring history, says Holmes. The goal, he says, was simply to “play to as much of our fan base as possible.”


For the highest-grossing tour featuring three or more artists on the bill.

Justin Bieber
Purpose World Tour

Bieber ranks as a contender for top package award for the first time with his Purpose World Tour, which featured rapper Post Malone and singer-songwriter Moxie Raia. (Corey Harper and The Knocks also appeared on select dates.)

Kenny Chesney
Spread the Love Tour

Unlike Bieber, Chesney is no newcomer to this category, having won the top package award eight times (including in 2009 on a bill with Miranda Lambert, his tour mate in 2016). On his Spread the Love Tour, Chesney shared the bill with Lambert, Sam Hunt and Old Dominion on a swing through 14 stadiums.

Luke Bryan
Kill the Lights Tour

Bryan took his Kill the Lights Tour, featuring Little Big Town and Dustin Lynch, to amphitheaters and stadiums this summer to generate the highest attendance of the three top package finalists, at nearly 1.4 million.


For the highest-grossing engagement on a tour, whether for one or multiple nights.

Wembley Stadium, London

Coldplay’s four-show run June 15-19 at London’s Wembley Stadium earns the group finalist status in this category. “They put absolutely everything into the shows that they can,” says promoter Simon Moran, managing director of SJM Concerts, which presented the date.

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
​Croke Park Stadium, Dublin

Springsteen’s first shows in Dublin since 2012 created excitement that stretched “from the top to the very bottom of Ireland,” says promoter Peter Aiken, director of Aiken Promotions. That translated into 161,000 ticket sales for two sold-out dates at the capital city’s Croke Park Stadium on May 27 and 29, as part of the European leg of The River Tour. U2’s Bono joined Springsteen to sing “Because the Night” during the first show.

The Stone Roses
​Etihad Stadium, Manchester, England

The Stone Roses played their first shows in their home city in four years June 15-19 at Etihad Stadium and exceeded their own expectations. “We were confident we would sell out two nights and were hoping for three, but we never contemplated four until the day we went on sale,” says Moran, who is both the promoter and manager for the band.


For the top-grossing festival.

Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival
Indio, Calif.

With a lineup that included a reunited Guns N’ Roses, LCD Soundsystem and Calvin Harris, Coachella ranks among the three finalists in this category. Yet for all the draw of its headliners, Coachella — held for the fifth time on consecutive weekends (April 15-17, 22-24) at the Empire Polo Grounds in Indio, Calif. — once again sold out before its lineup was even announced. Producer Paul Tollett, president of Goldenvoice, says that he has a contract with the fans: They expect him to deliver, and he exceeds their expectations at every level of the festival’s bill.

Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival
San Francisco

Produced by Superfly, co-founder of the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, and San Francisco-based Another Planet Entertainment, Outside Lands has become a Bay Area mainstay at Golden Gate Park since its launch in 2008. The lineup for the festival, which ran Aug. 4-7, drew more than 210,000 for headliners Radiohead, LCD Soundsystem and Lionel Richie. Beyond music, the event’s focus on food, wine and art is unique among major festivals.

StageCoach Music Festival
​Indio, Calif.

On the weekend following Coachella, Goldenvoice stages the StageCoach Music Festival, which, in its 10th year, has evolved into the most important country music play west of the Mississippi. Now booked by Goldenvoice’s Stacy Vee, StageCoach drew some 75,000 fans for each of its three days (April 29-May 1), with headliners Eric Church, Carrie Underwood and Luke Bryan and a deep bill of country and rock acts.


For the highest-grossing tour by an artist that enters the top 50 tour recap for the first time in the act’s career.


Adele’s eight-month arena tour was the must-see show of 2016. In addition to headlining England’s Glastonbury Festival in June, Adele’s other highlights included eight sellouts at Los Angeles’ Staples Center, grossing $13.8 million, and six nights at New York’s Madison Square Garden, which grossed $9.8 million.

The Weeknd

The Madness arena tour by The Weeknd lived up to its name. The fall outing played 22 cities across North America including back-to-back stops at New York’s Madison Square Garden and Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. Having tickets go on sale the same day The Weeknd released his chart-topping album, Beauty Behind the Madness, helped create a fan frenzy. “We made it clear that if you are a fan of The Weeknd, Aug. 28 would be the most important day in the world,” says William Morris Endeavor partner Joel Zimmerman, who represents the artist.

Twenty One Pilots

Following theater and amphitheater shows in 2015, Twenty One Pilots — Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun — stepped up to a 108-city, sold-out arena tour in 2016. “Touring has defined us from day one— this year is the culmination of five years of commitment to artist and marketplace development on the road,” says manager Chris Woltman, who adds that the duo has played more than 400 headlining shows, from bars to arenas, during that period.


For the highest-grossing comedy tour during the awards period.

Kevin Hart

On the What Now? Tour, Hart played Australia and Africa for the first time, his global popularity buoyed by his appearances in such box-office hits as Get Hard and The Wedding Ringer. “We were able to see what that [exposure] means firsthand, sending him over to play in all these different countries,” says APA agent Mike Berkowitz.

Michael McIntyre

Little known in North America but host of a weekly TV show on BBC One, McIntyre brought his Happy and Glorious Tour to London’s O2 Arena — playing to 93,000 fans across seven nights. His tour reached 400,000 fans total, according to Off the Kerb Productions.

Amy Schumer

Schumer, star of Comedy Central’s Inside Amy Schumer and the 2015 film Trainwreck, and author of the best-selling memoir Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo, filled arenas including London’s O2 and Madison Square Garden in New York. She will tour Australia and New Zealand in December.


The Billboard Touring Awards tally the gross ticket sales achieved by the top 50 tours to recognize the top managers, agencies, promoters and venues. These are the finalists in those categories.


• Jon Landau Management (Bruce Springsteen)

• Maverick Management (Madonna, U2)

• Parkwood Entertainment (Beyoncé)


• Creative Artists Agency

• Paradigm Talent Agency

• William Morris Endeavor


• AEG Live

• Live Nation

• TF4 — Time for Fun


• Another Planet Entertainment

• Cardenas Marketing Network

• Frank Productions


• Evenko

• Move Concerts

• SJM Concerts


• Madison Square Garden, New York

• Manchester Arena, Manchester, England

• O2 Arena, London


• Auditorio Nacional,
Mexico City

• The Axis at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas

• Radio City Music Hall,
New York


• Beacon Theatre, New York

• The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas

• Fox Theater, Atlanta


• BB&T Pavilion, Camden, N.J.

• Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, The Woodlands, Texas

• The Gorge, George, Wash.


• 9:30 Club, Washington, D.C.

• House of Blues, Boston

• House of Blues, Houston

This article originally appeared in the Nov. 12 issue of Billboard.