December 29, 2005

Rolling Stones, U2 tours hottest tickets of 2005

By Dean Goodman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Rolling Stones smashed their
own 11-year-old record for the highest-grossing North American
concert tour of all time in 2005, helping lift overall ticket
sales to a new high, trade publication Pollstar said on

The Stones sold $162 million worth of tickets by playing
their golden oldies for 1.2 million concertgoers, while Irish
rockers U2 pulled in $138.9 million from 1.4 million fans. U2
worked a little harder for its payday, playing 78 shows in
North America, compared with 42 performances by the Stones.

The old record for a tour was $121 million, which the
Stones set in 1994.

Canadian pop singer Celine Dion was third on the list with
$81.3 million, thanks solely to her exclusive engagement at
Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, where she belted out her ballads
for tourists at 155 performances.

Paul McCartney and the Eagles rounded out the top five,
with respective sales of $77.3 million and $76.8 million.

Pollstar said ticket sales for the top 100 shows rose to
$3.1 billion, breaking last year's record of $2.8 billion,
thanks to a jump in the average ticket price to $57 from $52.39
last year. Indeed, the top 100 acts sold a combined 36.1
million tickets, down 1.5 million from last year.

The relentless rise in ticket prices combined with the
decline in the number of tickets sold was "a little
disconcerting," said Gary Bongiovanni, editor of the Fresno,
California-based publication.

Apportioning blame depends on who you ask. Promoters say
the artists demand too much money, forcing them, in turn, to
charge higher ticket prices. Artists say promoters keep
offering more lucrative deals, which they can hardly reject,
especially when CD sales are in a tailspin.

New albums by the Stones and McCartney had disappointing
sales, while the Eagles have not released a new studio album in

Top acts can generally name their prices with no risk of
chasing away customers, with the Stones charging upward of $450
in some cities.

Their average ticket cost about $134, Pollstar said, while
U2 tickets averaged out at about $97. Dion and McCartney had
average ticket prices of about $136 and $135, respectively.

The North American scene could be a little quieter next
year, with the Stones and U2 focusing on international markets.
Once again, oldies acts could be the top draw, with veterans
like the Who, Prince, Queen with Paul Rodgers, and Pink Floyd
frontman David Gilmour hitting the road.