In a year when corporate maneuvering by live entertainment firms often generated as many headlines as performances by concert headliners, the live music business held its ground.

In fact, the global concert industry managed a financial rebound in 2008 in an extremely challenging environment. But a boost in dollars does not outweigh the ongoing specter of declining attendance. The people who went to concerts spent more money to go, but plenty of potential concertgoers opted out.

Realistically, if touring is going to carry the flag as the most reliable revenue producer in the music industry, an even better performance at the turnstiles should be expected. Even so, up is up, and in an economic environment where growth in business is hard to find, the concert industry pulled it off.

For the touring chart year that ran from Nov. 14, 2007, through Nov. 11, 2008, grosses reported to Billboard Boxscore totaled slightly less than $4 billion worldwide, the most ever for a year and up almost 13% over last year. North American concert dollars are up 8% after a 10% decline last year. But data on actual tickets sold tells a less positive story. Global attendance is virtually flat, but with 6% fewer shows. And North American concert attendance is down nearly 2%, after a nearly 20% decrease last year, continuing a troubling trend.

Paid attendance of 48 million in North America was reported to Boxscore in the past year, down from 51 million last year. While such unreported events as casinos, private dates, fairs, festivals, clubs, less-than-successful shows and international dates boost overall concert business to an estimated $7 billion-$8 billion, most would agree that the overall objective is to grow the audience.

So, given the global economy, is it good news that dollars are up or bad news that attendance is down?

Click here to read what top executives in the live entertainment business have to say about the live entertainment business in 2008, and their forecast and advice of the year to come.