This past Sunday, April 10, marked a momentous day for U2. As the Irish rock band took the stage at Morumbi Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, their 360 tour officially became the highest grossing tour in history.
The mantle of highest grossing tour of all time comes to U2 from British rockers the Rolling Stones, whose 2005-07 “A Bigger Bang” tour grossed $558 million. Currently, U2’s 360 tour, which has been underway since 2009, is on track to completely bust the former record, with Billboard estimating that U2 will have taken in over $700 million by the time the band finishes its North American tour leg July 31.
In addition to taking over the title of highest grossing tour ever, U2 is also on track to break the record for highest attended tour ever. Coincidently, U2 will take over that mantle from the Rolling Stones as well, as the British band currently hold the record with 6.4 million tickets for their 1994-95 “Voodoo Lounge” tour. By the time the 360 tour wraps in North America, it will have sold 7 million tickets for 110 concerts.
It is truly impressive that in a down economy U2 has been able to break both the record for top gross as well as be on pace to break the record for highest attendance. It appears that the success of the tour has truly been the result of a myriad of elements that have come together in a perfect storm.
The 360 tour has several things going for it that have made it a record breaking success. First, the aptly named tour sets up the stage in the round, offering a 360° staging (hence, the tour’s 360 moniker), which allows for use of additional seating that would be lost with a traditional stage model.
Also, U2’s ticket prices, which ranged in price from as low as $30 to as high as $250, are also being credited for the tour’s staggering ticket sales numbers. However, ticket prices mean nothing without fans willing to buy them, and this tour has proven that U2 still maintains their strong international fan base. U2 has been one of the most popular bands worldwide- as witnessed through their sales of over 150 million albums over the course of the bands 35-year career.
While the gross is enormous, there is no word from U2’s camp on the net profit from the tour. However, reports have placed the daily cost of each day of the tour at $750,000 — whether or not there is a show that day. A great deal of the cost is due to the unique stage set-up the band employs, both with the “in the round” concept, as well as the actual physical stage itself which is extremely time consuming to build.
Billboard is predicting the record will stand for the foreseeable future. The unique concert set-up as well as the band’s legions of worldwide fans probably will not be duplicated for years, and at the time being it appears unlikely that the Rolling Stones will be able to steal back their titles.