2019 has been one to remember – especially for these rock legends. We used Ticket Club sales data to uncover the 50 best-selling touring artists this year and found one key take-away: it’s the year of rockers and retirees. Rock tours overwhelmed the ticketing market with enormous sales figures that surpassed any other music genre. Many of the touring artists contributing to the genre’s dominance are legacy acts, a subgenre that has proven lucrative time and time again.
Elton John is on pace to remain the best-selling touring artist for the second straight year. The Rocket Man continues to add dates to his three-year farewell tour and fans keep coming out in droves to see him belt out his greatest hits. The Rolling Stones’ triumphant No Filter stadium tour propelled them to the No. 2 spot. Fellow legacy rockers Bob Seger, Paul McCartney, Queen, KISS, Billy Joel and Fleetwood Mac joined them within the Top 20 best-sellers. In the bottom half of the year’s top 50 artists stands Phil Collins, Dead & Company, Peter Frampton, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Who, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Hootie & The Blowfish plus metal titans Metallica and Iron Maiden.
Top 20 Best-Selling Touring Artists of 2019 (So Far)
|Rank||Artist||Average Ticket Price|
|6||Queen & Adam Lambert||$257|
|11||Florida Georgia Line||$105|
Compared to other genres, rock was undoubtedly the powerhouse of the market. The aforementioned artists raked in nearly half of all concert sales. Pop tours earned the second highest amount thanks to sizable treks from Ariana Grande, Shawn Mendes, BTS, Cher, Pink and the Jonas Brothers. Country headliners Garth Brooks, Luke Combs, Jason Aldean and Carrie Underwood helped the genre take in 23 percent of all sales. And despite strong showings from Post Malone, Travis Scott, Khalid and Mary J. Blige, rap and R&B combined for a mere three percent of all sales among the Top 50.
Rock Tours Sales Percentage vs. Other Genres
So what is the reason for so much of these rock tours’ success? Size is certainly a factor, as Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road consists of over 300 dates throughout its run. Bob Seger has also played a few dozen gigs this year with more to go, each one adding a fair share to his overall sales figures. But in the case of Paul McCartney and the Rolling Stones, all it takes is a handful of stadium shows with 60,000+ in attendance to make moves among the year’s best-sellers.
But in the end, it ultimately comes down to legacy. John, Seger, Frampton, KISS and Lynyrd Skynyrd have all announced retirement following their current tours, driving ticket sales from the get-go. Fleetwood Mac and the Stones have not confirmed retirement yet, but rumors have swirled that they’ll step back the further along they get in their careers. In the Stones’ case particularly, future tours may not be close in sight after Mick Jagger underwent a heart surgery that forced the band to postpone their No Filter Tour.
Legacy comes into play once again with Billy Joel, who ventured out to select U.S. ballparks in his only tour dates outside of his Madison Square Garden residency. Queen enjoyed a boost in sales and relevancy thanks to their Oscar-winning biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. And The Who continued to build on their musical legacy with their first album in 13 years and accompanying Moving On! Tour. Meanwhile Dead & Company keeps the Grateful Dead’s legacy alive every time they take the stage to sold-out crowds.
Pop acts like Grande, Mendes and Billie Eilish all fared well but their popularity is largely limited to younger demographics. Similarly, country and hip-hop artists also only manage to draw in specific crowds. It’s clear that rock has retained its near-universal appeal and we don’t expect it to diminish any time soon.