As social distancing and enforced isolation become the norm, it is easy to forget that only last month, bands, rappers, and pop singers were out on tour. Filling 20,000-seat arenas and 50,000-seat stadiums around the world, concerts generally played through March 11 and 12 in the U.S. and stopped worldwide by the middle of the month. In that time, artists were able to squeeze in handfuls of shows, kicking off tours before rescheduling the rest or wrapping up runs that bled over from earlier in Q1.
And while North American and European stadium tours await their fate, warmer climates in South America allowed artists to hit outdoor venues and push their nightly capacity, topping Billboard’s monthly Top Tours and Top Venues charts.
The most successful of these tours was the Backstreet Boys, playing the Latin American leg of the DNA World Tour to completion and crowning Billboard’s Top Tours chart for the first time. The evergreen boy band grossed $12.1 million and sold over 160,000 tickets from 10 shows in March, according to figures reported to Billboard Boxscore.
BSB’s March shows swept through Colombia, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil, peaking with the tour’s final date at Sao Paulo’s Allianz Parque on March 15. That stadium show earned $3.3 million on the back of 45,174 fans in attendance, enough to hit No. 9 on the Top Boxscores chart.
The DNA World Tour began on May 11, 2019 with 28 shows in Europe, followed by 46 dates in the U.S. and Canada, from Washington, D.C. on July 12, to four shows in Honolulu, Hawaii between November 2-6. The group’s 15-date run through Latin America in February and March was certainly more concise than their previous transcontinental legs, but the recent shows posted the best per-night averages of the tour, at $1.166 million and 15,246 ticket.
The group’s chart-topping March finals push The DNA World Tour’s total sales passed the one million-mark, at 1.16 million tickets sold and $99.5 million grossed. Another North American leg plus a slew of Australian shows were scheduled to play this spring and summer but remain in a holding pattern. Assuming even one of those shows plays, it will be the first Backstreet Boys tour to cross the $100-million threshold in Boxscore reports.
March 2020 not only marks the Backstreet Boys’ first time atop the monthly ranking, but also the first time a full South American tour has taken top honors. Following North American tours (Elton John, P!nk, BTS, The Rolling Stones, Post Malone and Trans-Siberian Orchestra), and stints in Europe (P!nk), Australia (Elton John), and Asia (Ed Sheeran), it’s the fifth continent to rule over Billboard’s Top Tours chart.
Maroon 5 follows closely at No. 3, also with a string of South American shows. The pop/rock band played four dates in Brazil, plus shows in Uruguay and Colombia, combining to $11.1 million and 180,510 tickets. Adam Levine & Co. played four fewer shows than the Backstreet Boys, but still managed the month’s best-attended tour, leading BSB by 13% in ticket sales.
And just as the Backstreet Boys did, Maroon 5 peaked with a show at Allianz Parque in Sao Paulo, grossing $3.5 million and edging out the boys at No. 8 on the Top Boxscores chart. Those two shows alone make the Brazilian stadium the month’s second highest grossing venue at $6.8 million. Only Mexico City’s Foro Sol surpasses it with nearly double the earnings — $12.6 million — via shows from Billy Joel, Soda Stereo, and the month’s top-grossing Boxscore, the Vive Latino Festival.
After winning top honors in February by only a few thousand dollars, Post Malone backs off to the runner-up position with $11.7 million from seven shows on the Runaway Tour. The tour’s total gross has climbed to $95.8 million and 743,932 tickets sold, and will follow BSB’s DNA World Tour into nine-figure territory once the tour’s final shows can play out.
Post’s arena tour has amassed that $95 million since launching in September, ruling the Top Tours chart in October 2019 and February, ranking at No. 2 in March, No. 5 in November 2019 and No. 6 in September 2019.
That consistency places him among fellow Top Tours mainstays like his closest adversaries in February — Elton John and Celine Dion. Both legendary performers round out this month’s top 5, at $8.7 million and $8.2 million, respectively.
Dion’s Courage World Tour has raked in $104.6 million since opening in Quebec City on Sept. 18, 2019 and is scheduled to play more shows in Europe, the Middle East, and North America. If she can play all 50 shows after COVID-related bans are lifted, the tour is likely to finish just below or just above $200 million.
John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour, a four-time monthly chart-topper, has brought in a massive $358.6 million since its Sept. 8, 2018 launch, fast approaching Billboard Boxscore’s all-time top 10 ranking. The 10th highest grossing tour in the Boxscore archives is Madonna’s 2008-09 Sticky & Sweet Tour at $408 million.
As with virtually every artist with a tour currently on hold, it is still to be determined what shape John’s farewell tour will take when venues re-open. But based on the $2 million per-show average across the tour’s 179 shows so far, it will take John approximately 20 shows to break the $400 million mark and another five or so to crash the all-time top 10.