The Live Music Industry Had a $20 Billion Year in 2015. Thank You, Grateful Dead.

The combination of more artists on the road to make up for falling music sales and escalating ticket prices has pushed the gross revenues for the live music industry to $20 billion. And while megatours by U2, Taylor Swift, One Direction and Madonna were a big part of this, the Grateful Dead won 2015. From Billboard:

As the sun began to set on Chicago’s Soldier Field, the positive vibe was palpable as more than 70,000 fans — most of them clutching American Beauty roses — settled in for arguably the most highly-anticipated shows of 2015: the Grateful Dead’s Fare Thee Well 50th anniversary concerts.

Fare Thee Well was the biggest show in a big year for the touring industry, which industry stakeholders say remains robust, buoyed by a healthy economy, popular artists on the road, and an increasingly global marketplace, as well as new media marketing that taps into the power of all three. Add to that a general consumer trend toward the purchase of experiences as opposed to possessions, and these are the best of times for live music.

That July 3-5 Dead run in Chicago generated the biggest Boxscore of the year, with an eye-popping gross of $30.6 million and aggregate attendance of 210,283. Those shows, along with the previous weekend’s take at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., brought the total Fare Thee Well take to $52 million, a reunion that illustrates the vibrant power of community that has driven the concert industry since its inception, and has now re-invigorated it into an estimated $20 billion global juggernaut in the digital age.

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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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