Over the last quarter century, the concert industry has dramatically increased ticket prices due to a combination of falling record sales and aging fans willing to shell out to see favourite bands from their youth. So perhaps it should come as no surprise that Billboard's list of the 25 top-grossing live acts from 1990 to 2014 is dominated by baby boomers.
The Rolling Stones -- set to play Lisbon in the coming days after restarting their tour in Oslo, Norway earlier this week -- come it at number one with over $1.5 billion gross from playing 538 shows. The band hasn't toured relentlessly over that time but Voodoo Lounge, Bridges To Babylon and Licks tours have clearly filled their coffers. Attendance over those shows is almost 20 million, making "secret" club shows like a 2005 Toronto gig before 1100 (with tickets priced at $10!) the exception to their rule.
U2 was second with almost identical numbers to Mick Jagger and company. The group played to over 20 million but grossed $50 million less overall than the Stones with a dozen fewer shows. Bruce Springsteen earns the bronze medal with his 727 gigs grossing nearly $1.2 billion total.
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In terms of most economical -- i.e. the most money earned from the fewest number of shows -- both Madonna and The Eagles lay claim to that distinction in the Top Ten. Madonna, in fourth, played almost half the shows The Boss did and to six million fewer concertgoers yet grossed $1.14 billion from 382 shows, almost half of Springsteen's concert count. Bon Jovi, in fifth place, is the only other act which cracks the $1 billion mark ($1.03) The Eagles, soaring into last spot in the top ten, are the only other artist to have played under 500 gigs (484) and grossed just over $700 million.
Elsewhere, three artists lay claim to nearing or surpassing the 1000-show mark, but only Dave Matthews is the true "road warrior," with 992 shows, since Elton John and Celine Dion enjoyed lengthy Las Vegas residencies. Celine is also the lone Canadian on the list.
Paul McCartney, however, clocked only 220 shows but took home over half a billion, edging out Billy Joel by an estimated $6 million despite the piano man playing an additional 350 gigs.
In terms of country artists, Kenny Chesney placed ninth with over $752 million with George Strait and Toby Keith placing 19th and 22nd, respectively.
The majority of the remaining artists all had their beginnings in the '60s (Fleetwood Mac, Cher, Rod Stewart, Roger Waters, Neil Diamond), or '70s (The Police, Aerosmith, AC/DC and Jimmy Buffett).
In fact, the only "new" artist to have cracked the top 25 is Coldplay -- the band's debut album came out in 2000 and they've since grossed $378 million to come in at 21 on the list. (They also just landed the year's biggest debut with "Ghost Stories.") No other post-millennial act made the cut, not even Beyonce. But Bey's been on the road almost non-stop the last couple years so she'll likely make the next list.