With the economy still slumping and weather conditions less than optimal this past summer, it's no surprise that the concert industry continues to suffer. But you'd never know that from the box-office receipts of Bruce Springsteen.
By the time he finished his 10-date July run of Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, the Boss had brought in $79 million, according to industry trade magazine Pollstar. If Springsteen continues to sell out shows for the remainder of 2003, he'll earn around $120 million — nearly double the $61.4 million he grossed in 1984, his previous best year.
Springsteen would handily beat the $103.3 million earned by last year's top draw, Paul McCartney, and might even break the record for the top-drawing tour of all time, an honor the Rolling Stones earned in 1994 with grosses of $121.2 million.
Even if he doesn't surpass the Stones, Springsteen's $36.4 million Giants Stadium run has already nabbed him a record for the biggest single-city, single-artist gross in North America, an indication that while overall concert business is down, certain sectors are alive and well.
"When money's tight, people cherry-pick," said Gary Bongiovanni, editor of Pollstar. "The public will pay for something it really wants to see."
And enough people wanted to see the Summer Sanitarium Tour — which featured Metallica, Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, Deftones and Mudvayne (see "Metallica, Limp Bizkit Set Off Musical Fireworks At Summer Sanitarium") — that it took in an average of $2.5 million a night for a total of around $45 million. The amount likely would have been far more had the tour played more than 18 shows.
Assuming many major classic rock arena acts bring in around $1.2 million per night — a fairly reliable estimate, according to Pollstar — here's how the rest of the field might play out: Fleetwood Mac will end the year with total grosses around $85.2 million to earn second place. They would be followed by the Eagles, who look to make around $68.4 million.
Cher's farewell tour, which seems like it will never end, will probably gross around $63.4 million. The Dixie Chicks will likely bring in around $60 million, and the Billy Joel and Elton John tour, which swept the first half of 2003 with earnings of $52.7 million, might have competed with the Boss had they not stopped touring in May.
A notch down on the totem pole, Bon Jovi look to gross around $39.3 million, and Phish could bring in around $38.5 million with their first tour in two years. The Rolling Stones, who only toured through June in North America, brought in about $37.4 million.
Although the Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera tour sold out every night and made more than 40 stops (see "Christina Does Her Cher Impression, Justin Fights The Screams At Tour Kickoff"), the package won't bring in as much as Fleetwood Mac or Cher because Justified and Stripped tickets were priced lower. Still, their gross earnings of $27 million should earn them a slot in the top 15.
"Ticket pricing is a tricky business," Bongiovanni said. "You have to figure out how deep the public wants to reach into their pockets to see the show, and you have very little to guide you other than what's going on around you."
Ozzfest is expected to end the year in the top 20 but slightly lower than in the past (see "Ozzy Croons And Moons, Manson Rocks With Private Parts, Killswitch Kill At Ozzfest Stop"). Ozzy's absence from several shows, which were headlined by Korn, may account for the dip, Bongiovanni said.
Other tours were stricken with more serious strains of the summertime blues, including the relaunched Lollapalooza and Beck's outing with Dashboard Confessional (see "Bummer Summer For Concerts — Why Aren't Fans Going?").
For more sights and stories from concerts around the country, check out MTV News Tour Reports.