BTS made its return to the stage for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic with four shows at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif. Wrapping last night, Dec. 2, the South Korean superstars boast the biggest Boxscore total by any act in nearly a decade.
According to figures reported to Billboard Boxscore, BTS’ four Los Angeles-area concerts grossed a mammoth $33.3 million and sold 214,000 tickets. Those totals make the SoFi Stadium shows the highest-grossing engagement since venues began re-opening this year. Further, it’s the largest gross for run of shows at a single venue since 2012, when Roger Waters earned $38 million over nine shows at Estadio River Plate in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Even further, it’s the biggest U.S.-based Boxscore in 18 years, and the second-biggest ever in the 30-year-plus history of Billboard Boxscore in North America (and biggest ever in California), behind Bruce Springsteen’s 10-show marathon at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. (38.7 million).
Overall, BTS lands the sixth best-grossing engagement in Billboard Boxscore history.
(A Boxscore is generally defined as a report of all shows that an act plays at a single venue during a given tour, or during a leg of a tour. Sums are based on figures reported to Billboard Boxscore and exclude festivals.)
Remarkably, the five engagements that have out-grossed BTS throughout Boxscore history were each at least twice as long as BTS’ four-show sweep. Take That owns the top two spots with eight-date stretches at London’s Wembley Stadium and Manchester’s Etihad Stadium (then called City of Manchester Stadium when the shows played in June 2011). Springsteen and Waters, as mentioned above, played 10 and nine shows, respectively, to accumulate their totals. Meanwhile, the Spice Girls boast the biggest-grossing arena engagement in Boxscore archives, via 17 gigs at the O2 Arena in 2007-08, just out-earning BTS’ SoFi run with $33.8 million.
The shows cap a banner year for BTS, following three Billboard Hot 100-topping songs — including a 10-week stretch at No. 1 on the chart with “Butter.” That distinction that separates BTS from the other $30 million-plus club members — including U2 and the Grateful Dead in addition to Take That, Springsteen, Waters and the Spice Girls — none of whom had cracked the top 20 of the Hot 100 within five years of their $30 million grosses. BTS’ simultaneous conquering of the singles charts and the stadium circuit adds to the growing momentum of contemporary acts on the big stage, in addition to Beyoncé, Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift, among few others.
There’s another angle that sets BTS apart from other acts in this elite circle — which may either be revolutionary or increasingly irrelevant, depending on your spin. News to no one, BTS does not primarily perform in English: The group has managed some major pop hits turning to English in songs such as 2020’s “Dynamite” and 2021’s “Butter,” but the majority of the SoFi Stadium setlists featured Korean-language tunes. It’s certainly a first for a historically non-English-language act to break $20 million in one engagement, much less $30 million. Along similar lines, Luis Miguel owns the biggest Spanish-language Boxscore, with $19.3 million from 30 shows at Mexico City’s Auditorio Nacional in 2006.
A South Korean act setting concert-revenue records in the U.S. is undeniably a breakthrough. But while impressive, perhaps it isn’t too surprising. The stateside crossover of contemporary Korean and Latin acts has been building for the last half-decade, with Bad Bunny, BLACKPINK, Maluma and many more tackling arenas outside of their home continents and scaling Billboard’s global charts. And BTS’ recent fusion of English-language pop into its Korean-language catalog perhaps made its stadium triumph inevitable, particularly after the septet had not seen its army of fans live in around two years.
Before the COVID shutdown, BTS embarked on a global stadium run with the BTS World Tour Love Yourself: Speak Yourself. Following a string of international arena dates in 2018-2019, the Speak Yourself shows earned $121.9 million and sold 1.05 million tickets in 23 shows in North and South America, Europe and Asia. That tour’s L.A. stop was a double-header at Pasadena’s Rose Bowl, grossing $16.7 million and selling 113,000 tickets, making this year’s SoFi shows a two-to-one improvement over BTS’ last area shows.
That trek’s big gross from a relatively brief set of shows reflects the way that many Korean acts tour in the U.S. BTS hit Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, out-earning most of their contemporaries in each market but foregoing a full national tour, perhaps due to perceived cultural and language barriers that have long made primarily non-English-language acts consider not playing smaller American cities.
While BTS’ most recent shows were in one of those major markets where the group already had a sold-out history, their wide-raging success — on top of a growing roster of familiar global hits — could swing the doors open even further for international acts.
All told, BTS has logged reported earnings of $256.9 million across 60 shows and 2 million tickets sold.
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