Concert ticket sales may be down this year, but don’t tell that to country music artists.
While rock staples like the Eagles, current pop stars like Rihanna, and tween sensations the Jonas Brothers and Demi Lovato have had to cancel shows due to poor sales (with Christina Aguilera even nixing her entire tour), country stars like Taylor Swift and Brad Paisley have had no trouble filling venues.
And the reason? High ticket prices seem to be causing at least some of the problems. According to industry trade magazine Pollstar, the Eagles’ average North American ticket price for the first half of 2010 was $120. In a better economy, it’s conceivable that the rock stalwarts would be able to claim such a price, but not now. Even the Jonas/Lovato crew, all relatively new to the music scene, recently charged an average of $91 per ticket to their October show at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, with some seats topping off at $250. The date ended up being cancelled due to low ticket sales.
By contrast, Swift charged an average of $61 (for North American venues) to $63 (worldwide) per seat, and she had the third highest grossing North American tour for the first half of 2010, according to Pollstar.
In fact, three country acts (Swift, George Strait/Reba McIntyre/Lee Ann Womack, and Tim McGraw) made it to the top ten of Pollstar’s 100 highest grossers in North America, and that is with monster ticket sellers like Bon Jovi, Paul McCartney and, this year, James Taylor and Carole King, pushing everyone else down the list. The Eagles failed to make even the top 20 North American tours, outpaced by the likes of Carrie Underwood, Brad Paisley and Brooks and Dunn.
The pressure to increase revenue doesn’t seem to be translating into higher concert prices for country artists like Swift. As promoter Louis Messina, whose Messina Group is owned by AEG, recently told the Tennessean newspaper, “Taylor (Swift) probably left $10 million on the table because she could have demanded a higher ticket price but she didn’t want to make it unaffordable for her fans”.