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CONCERT TICKET SALES SLUMP

Number of Concert Tickets Sold Dips 3% as Established Acts Continue to Bring in Big Bucks
Continuing a deep slump, total music sales in the U.S. for the first six months of the year are down nearly 13% from the same period last year, according to figures published by the Wall Street Journal.

In addition, a survey of the North American concert industry by Pollstar showed the top 50 acts sold a combined 10.6 million tickets in the first half of the year, down about 3% from the year-ago period (10.9 million tickets) and off 18% from 2000 (12.9 million tickets). The total concert take rose to $538.2 million from $508.2 million last year, although the total number of tickets sold is down 3%. This is due to an average increase in the price of tickets.

The average ticket price for those top 50 tours rose 11.3% to $50.81 from last year, Pollstar said. By contrast U.S. consumer inflation rose 3.6 percent in the year to May.

This is a "disconcerting" trend in the concert industry, Gary Bongiovanni, editor of Pollstar, told the Journal

According to the newspaper, the downturn in ticket sales comes on the heels of consolidation of the concert industry, led by Clear Channel Entertainment, which reported selling 11.4 million tickets in the first half of the year and had 67 of the top 100 grossing tours. The next-largest promoter, House of Blues Concerts, reported sales of 1,8 million tickets in the same time period, followed by Concerts West/Goldenvoice, which reported 1.2 million tickets sold. Average ticket prices in the first six months of 2002 increased about 11.3%, or $4.12, to $50.81, Pollstar said.

The most expensive ticket was $152.62, the average price per ticket to see tenor Andrea Bocelli, whose six-show tour grossed $9.4 million. Second-highest was the $129.59 it cost on average to see Paul McCartney, whose recent tour was the highest grossing of the year, pulling in $52.8 million over 27 shows.

Old-timers are consistently bringing in the biggest bucks. Billy Joel and Elton John, who teamed up for 23 shows that grossed $44.4 million at an average ticket price of $108.70, had the second-highest-grossing tour so far this year. In fact, six of the top 10 tours so far were by veteran artists including Barry Manilow, Jimmy Buffett and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

One issue promoters may pay closer attention to in the second half of the year is tailoring ticket prices to the size and musical tastes of a particular market—or keeping them down altogether, Bongiovanni said, adding that one of the highest-grossing tours of the year, rockers Green Day and Blink-182, had an average ticket price of $31.56. That was the year's best-attended tour.

The report is more bad news for the music industry, which is reeling from Internet bootlegging and a paucity of exciting new acts. Album sales in the United States have tumbled 13% year-to-date.

Pollstar was confident receipts for 2002 would surpass 2001's record of $1.75 billion. The Rolling Stones, whose 1994 tour grossed a record $121.2 million, will hit the road in September. Others gearing up for shows include Aerosmith and Bruce Springsteen.

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