Is Touring Revenue Enough for Today’s Artists?

No one (except maybe Taylor Swift) is making the kind of money artists used to off the sale of music. Most of the revenue can be found in selling tickets, merch and licensing. But back to tours for a second: is playing live enough? A site called SeatSmart takes a look. (Thanks to Steve for the tip.)

The music industry is in crisis. With album sales tumbling to record lows and streaming services paying fractions of pennies on the dollar, where is the money supposed to come from to keep the lights on and the hits coming?

One popular source, for major artists at least, is still the good old fashioned mega tour. Many artists seeing their album sales taking a hit are realizing the same fans who might be torrenting their music will still pay to see them live.

But is it enough? Are tours making up for lost album revenue, and can they work for acts besides the biggest and best?

This study dissects data from the top selling tours and albums of the last 34 years to see where the industry is heading. So how can a band not have a top selling album in decades and still blow everyone else away in tour revenue? And can tours really plug the gaping hole in music industry profits left by declining album sales?

There’s plenty more here–but before you continue, it’s worth taking a look at this graph.

top-tour-revenue-vs-top-album-revenue

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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