Will Summer Concerts Sing the Blues?
BOSTON ( MainStreet) -- After years of subpar concert ticket sales, the music industry is hoping to sing a happy song and shake off its recessionary blues this summer.
Last year was a little bit better for the music industry on the live performance front. According to Pollstar, a trade magazine that analyzes music industry data, the top 100 concert tours in North America throughout 2011 sold more than 54 million tickets, making $2.3 billion, and sales were 6% higher than the previous year. Apparently, concert tickets are a lagging economic indicator, as sales actually held steady in post-recession 2009 before plunging 15% in 2010, the worst season in 15 years.
It wasn't just the nation's economy that hurt the concert industry. It was also the confluence of ever-rising ticket prices crashing well past the $100 mark coupled with far too many acts to choose from, all vying for consumer dollars.
We took a look at some of the tours coming to a town near you this summer (and a few that aren't) to see what insight they might offer.
A perennial touring machine, Bruce Springsteen's marathon concerts have been praised over the years for being cathartic and uplifting.
The music industry is hoping that, like his songs of endurance in the face of adversity, they too will overcome their sorrows.
A bellwether of industry health is Live Nation Entertainment (LYV) , a leading live entertainment and e-commerce company. It produces more than 20,000 shows annually for more than 2,000 artists globally and is the parent company of Ticketmaster.
The company is optimistic for the summer ahead -- at least that's what it was telling investors in February as it closed the books on 2011.
"The concert business is off to a great start in 2012, driven by a solid early lineup of artists and healthy ticketing demand," said Michael Rapino, president and CEO of Live Nation Entertainment. "We believe that the industry has stabilized and expect the overall market environment to be much the same in 2012, with the fan's passion for our products mitigating any ongoing economic uncertainty."
In 2011, Live Nation saw slightly better news than the prior year. It saw sales increase 6%, to $5.38 billion from $5.06 billion the year before. That uptick helped shrink its losses from $228 million in 2010 to $83 million.
As for Springsteen, his Wrecking Ball tour, already under way in support of a new album of the same name, is his first with the E Street Band since the death of saxophonist Clarence Clemons.
It has a high standard to live up to, critically and commercially. His previous Magic tour of North America and Western Europe in 2007-08 netted $235 million in revenue, with three concerts alone at Giants Stadium selling more than $14 million in tickets.