The recession has finally caught up with the lucrative concert touring industry.
The industry trade magazine and website Pollstar says gross revenue for the top 100 tours in North America in the first six months of 2010 is down nearly $200 million from last year.
That's a 17 percent drop in an industry that seemed impervious to the weakening economy just a few years ago. The total haul of $965.5 million was the lowest for the first half of the year since 2005 when gross revenue was $730.9 million.
Ticket sales also were off. The top 100 acts sold an average of 6,951 tickets per show, down about 9 percent from 7,639 during the same period in 2009.
Declining ticket sales have been evident in the number of cancellations this year for usually bankable stars.
Major acts such as The Eagles, Christina Aguilera, Rihanna and the Lilith Fair have canceled or curtailed tours, but Pollstar editor in chief Gary Bongiovanni said others — including Lady GaGa, Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and Muse — aren't having problems moving tickets.
To compensate, promoters have been offering discounted tickets, which some say has created more problems for the industry.
Bon Jovi has the top North American tour in the first half of 2010 with $52.8 million in grosses. James Taylor and Carole King are next at $41 million and Swift is third with $34.2 million. The tours of Paul McCartney ($31.6 million) and George Strait ($29.8 million) round out the top five.
AC/DC rules ticket sales worldwide with 1.8 million. No other act has reached 1 million. The band has grossed $177.5 million.
Bongiovanni says the recession appears to be hitting larger shows the hardest, with club-level acts still seeing respectable ticket sales.