The Year in Touring Charts 2021: The Rolling Stones Return to Glory With No. 1 Trek
No one tours like The Stones. Not only did they mount the biggest comeback tour of the post-COVID launch, they did it in only eight shows.
What a “year” it’s been. You’ve heard the story before – venues worldwide shut down in March 2020, and livestreams and drive-in concerts kept us busy until the lights turned back on, for the most part, over the course of summer 2021.
As soon as it was safe, The Rolling Stones kicked off the U.S. 2021 leg of the No Filter Tour in St. Louis, Mo., on Sept. 26 with a $7.2 million night. In just eight stadium shows during the annual tracking period, the tour grossed $72.3 million and sold 340,000 tickets, becoming the No. 1 tour of the year.
Those earnings break down to $16.3 million from two shows in September and $56 million from six shows in October, enough to be the top-grossing tour of that month.
Billboard’s Year-End Boxscore charts are based on engagements that played between Nov. 1, 2020 and Oct. 31, 2021.
Explore All of Billboard’s 2021 Year-End Charts
Quite frankly, no one does it like The Stones. Not only did they mount the biggest comeback tour of the post-COVID launch; they did it in only eight shows. Only four acts in the entire top 40 played fewer shows during the tracking period, and none of them made even a third of what Jagger & Co. did.
No Filter’s $72.3 million finish averages out to $9.04 million per show. The next-highest per-show average among the year’s top 40 tours? Los Bukis’ $5.52 million – an unqualified monster take, but just barely 60% of the Stones’ nightly pace.
The Stones also grab the highest average per-night attendance with 42,549 tickets sold, again fending off stadium competition from Aventura, Los Bukis and Billy Joel. And, outside of low-capacity, high-ticket Las Vegas residencies, the No Filter Tour boasts the year’s second-highest average ticket price with $212.44 per seat, behind the Eagles’ $232.40.
The Stones crown the year-end tour rankings with a brief run of high-priced stadium shows, but limiting the tour dates (eight in the 2021 tracking period – the No Filter Tour continued with more shows through Nov. 23) means that it actually ranks 13th in total attendance. The winner in terms of pure volume of tickets sold is the triple-headline pop-punk bonanza The Hella Mega Tour, featuring Green Day, Fall Out Boy and Weezer.
The Hella Mega Tour is No. 2 on Billboard’s year-end Top Tours ranking, raking in $67.3 million and 659,000 tickets sold. The combination of these three bands proved than 1+1+1 can sometimes equal more than three, as the tour’s per-night average gross is more than double each band’s previous best, combined.
Harry Styles follows at No. 3, with a $64.7 million gross and 497,000 ticket count through Oct. 31 on the Love On Tour. Styles continued to play through Nov. 28. Those shows, spread between Los Angeles, Houston, San Diego and more, will count toward the 2022 year-end charts, along with November dates by The Stones, James Taylor and several other ’21 heavyweights.
The Top Tours chart features a particularly strong showing for Latin acts, led by Los Bukis at No. 6 and followed by Maluma (No. 14), Aventura (No. 18), Pitbull (No. 20) and a double bill from Enrique Iglesias and Ricky Martin (No. 21). In total, a record nine Latin tours make the year-end ranking, or 22.5% of the entire tally. There were only four such tours in 2020, and one in 2019. Latin’s 23% share ties it with country, only behind rock with 12 of the top 40 tours, or 30%.
The Stones, Styles and Los Bukis take top honors in their respective genres of rock, pop and Latin. Chris Stapleton has the year’s top country tour (No. 9 overall), earning $33.9 million and selling 512,000 tickets. He wins the gold by a razor-thin margin over Luke Bryan (No. 10) with $33.4 million and 514,000 tickets.
Bruno Mars (No. 15) has the top R&B/hip-hop tour, though technically it’s not even a tour. Bruno Mars at Park MGM is the top-earning residency of 2021 with $24.4 million and 240,000 tickets sold at the Park Theater in Las Vegas and The Theater at MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md.
Lady Gaga and Usher are the other Vegas residency representatives on the Top Tours list, at Nos. 35 and 36, respectively.
The Gold Over America Tour is the one listing on the Top Tours chart that falls outside of these five genres. A display for the top U.S. Olympic gymnasts, headed by Simone Biles, is No. 28 with a $15.9 million take.
Another Planet Entertainment’s one-two punch of fall festivals rule the Top Boxscores ranking, with San Francisco’s Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival at No. 1 and Life Is Beautiful (Las Vegas) at No. 3. Outside Lands grossed $33.2 million with a weekendlong attendance count of 223,000 over Halloween weekend. Each festival led their respective monthly Top Boxscore rankings.
The Top Boxscores chart favors large-capacity gatherings, bringing us back to two familiar stadium names: The Rolling Stones (Nos. 2, 6, 8, 10-11, 13 and 16) and Los Bukis (Nos. 4-5, 7), making up seven of the top 10 listings and 10 of the top 25.
The Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, Colo., is the top venue, of any capacity size, of the year with $61.7 million and 997,000 tickets sold from a staggering 134 shows – a packed calendar in any year, much less a year that was ravaged by a global pandemic. Live Nation and AEG Presents repeat atop Billboard’s Top Promoters ranking, with $917 million and $397.4 million, respectively.