According to Billboard magazine, the concert business grossed just under $4 billion dollars worldwide in 2008. This was the highest gross ever for the industry and up almost 13% over 2007. What's more, in North America the gross was up 18% and concert attendance 6.3%.
The top 10 highest grossing acts were:
Notice anything about this list? Only one artist, Rascal Flatts, is a relatively new artist from this century. Kenny Chesney and Spice Girls have been around since the early 90's. Maybe it's too much to expect, but it sure would be nice to see some newer artists on this list, but unfortunately there are few new artists that have broken through on that level (you can blame the entire industry for not developing artists to replace the legends).
It's also interesting that there has been an increase in concert attendance. You could've predicted that revenue would've increased since ticket prices and surcharges have grown to unprecedented levels, but it seems that in dire economic times people still want a few hours of escapism and are willing to pay for it.
Next year will be different though, and here are some predictions:
1) The country's bad economics finally catch up to the industry, and people just won't consider that $200 plus ticket as much of a necessity as they once did.
2) As a result, the industry lowers it's ticket prices back to more reasonable sub-$100 levels after a few months of half-sold houses.
3) Irving Azoff and Ticketmaster follow through on eliminating the ghastly surcharges that everyone hates so much, which helps lower ticket prices more and helps drive attendance.
One thing's for sure, 2009 will look much different from 2008, at least in this part of the industry.