Top 10 Tours of 2016: Gear and Crew

by FOH Staff
in Cover Story
Coldplay tour photo by Steve Jennings
Coldplay tour photo by Steve Jennings

LAS VEGAS - The year-end numbers are in, and whatever else you may have been thinking about how things in 2016 went down, live concert ticket sales are up, according Pollstar. Total sales for the top 10 tours worldwide, featuring, in order, Bruce Springsteen & the E-Street Band, Beyoncé, Coldplay, Guns N’ Roses, Adele, Justin Bieber, Paul McCartney, Garth Brooks, the Rolling Stones and Celine Dion hit $1.67 billion — an 11.3 percent gain on the $1.5 billion pulled in by the top 10 tours in 2015.

North America vs. Worldwide

Looking at the concert business in just North America, Pollstar logged a record-setting year in 2016. The tally for the top 100 tours set high-water marks for both tickets (43.63 million) and sales ($3.12 billion). Sales from the top 10 North American tours rose as well — to $1.03 billion, versus a gross take of $982 million in 2015, according to Pollstar’s year-end charts.

Interestingly, however, 2015 had more lucre at the very top, with Taylor Swift’s 1989 tour raking in $199 million in North America, versus 2016’s top North American tour, the Beyoncé Formation tour, which garnered $169.4 million in North America.

As might be expected, many of the top worldwide tours also ranked in the top 10 in North America. As noted, Beyoncé (#2 worldwide) took the lead in North America, followed by Guns N’ Roses, Bruce Springsteen, Garth Brooks, Adele, Justin Bieber, Coldplay, Drake, Luke Bryan and Kenny Chesney.

Along with the variances in gross revenues, Pollstar’s numbers show these tours also varied significantly in total number of tickets sold, total number of shows and average gross revenues per show.

The Top 10 worldwide act that appeared to reap the biggest dollar amount from the least number of shows were those for the Rolling Stones, which impressively made it to #9 worldwide with just 14 shows in 10 cities.

Justin Bieber, by contrast, outranked the Stones with a #6 worldwide finish. But to get there, he and his supporting crew had to spend a lot more time on the road, with 115 shows staged in 86 cities.

Garth Brooks did a lot of shows as well — 102 of them, in fact — but in just 25 cities. Celine Dion also seemed to be able to draw fans to wherever she was performing, with 78 shows in just 19 cities.

Coldplay, meanwhile, scored the number one spot in terms of total tickets sold worldwide, with 2.6 million tickets for their 60 gigs in 44 cities. The reason all those concert-goers didn’t push them to the top of the list of total revenues, of course, was because their average ticket price — $90.05 — was not the highest.

In terms of per-ticket revenues, Celine Dion held the lead at $146.26, followed by Paul McCartney ($127.43) and the Rolling Stones ($122.33). The Top 10 worldwide artists pricing their tickets the most affordably, on average, were Garth Brooks ($69.29), Coldplay ($90.05) and Justin Bieber ($92.70).

Two country artists who made Pollstar’s top 10 list in North America — Kenny Chesney (#10) and Luke Bryan (#9) also topped the charts, like Garth, with average tickets below the $100 mark — $76.32 and $59, respectively.

Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to quantify “most awesome live audio production” among the worldwide top 10, or anywhere else, for that matter. But one thing’s for sure, none of these artists would have made it to the top 10 with less-than-stellar sound.

Check out the listings of sound companies, gear and crew supporting these acts. Links to our annual Showtime Top 10 Tours Showtime listings follow.

#1 Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band,

#2 Beyoncé,

#3 Coldplay,

#4 Guns N’ Roses,

#5 Adele,

#6 Justin Bieber,

#7 Paul McCartney,

#8 Garth Brooks,

#9 The Rolling Stones,

#10 Celine Dion,

For Pollstar's 2016 year-end report, go to