STATE OF PLAY: After a massively successful rebound of the live biz in 2023, a few shaky on-sales have some insiders worried about a market downturn as competition intensifies amid a stream of new show and festival announcements.

Because virtually everyone was sidelined during COVID, these insiders say, most acts that wanted to tour stampeded back onto the road over the last two years. Which means few pop/general market fests will likely be pistol-hot. The word “solid” gets thrown around a lot to describe 2024 prospects—not catastrophic, but not exactly thrilling either.

Steve Ballmer, Paul Tollett, Irving Azoff, Darryl Eaton 

Even the stalwart Coachella is in question. Paul Tollett has an unmatched talent for curating fresh, diverse lineups that reflect the zeitgeist, and despite intense scrutiny about its bill from all corners, Coachella is a consistent sellout. Still, sales are softer than last year, though the desert giant will be the top-grossing festival in the world once again in 2024.

When both weekends sell out (125k per day for six days) at a blended average ticket price (GA and VIP) of about $800, folks in the know say, Coachella’s gross hits 200m—and that’s before the up-selling to brands, sponsorship revenue, parking, camping, merch, and food and beverage service. (Fellow Goldenvoice property Stagecoach, the top-grossing country festival, draws 85k per day for three days on the same grounds and nearly went clean this year when it was put on sale—a first in its history—earning a hearty “yee-haw” from all concerned.)

Bonnaroo draws 75k per day for three days; Austin City Limits’ two weekends don’t sell out with a 75k cap; and U.K. festivals like Glastonbury (250k in one weekend) attract crowds comparable to Coachella but command much lower ticket prices. So even without selling out, Coachella leaves the other festivals in the dust.


Omar al-Joulani, Jonathan Dickins, Coran Capshaw, Mick Jagger

Surprisingly, the announcement of headliners Lana Del Rey (CAA), Doja Cat (CAA, Omar al-Joulani) and Tyler, The Creator was delayed about a week due to what those close to the process call “intense and resolute” negotiations between Tollett and mega-manager Irving Azoff about a reunion of Full Stop-managed Gwen Stefani with No Doubt. Tollett had been working for a while to make Coachella the band’s first show together since 2015. A $10m payday to play both weekends was just part of what was needed to push the deal through.

Insiders say that fee will be split evenly due to yearslong animosity between Stefani and Larry Tull-managed group members Tony Kanal, Adrian Young and Tom Dumont sparked by her solo success. In exchange for her participation in the reunion, the band has reportedly agreed to let Stefani use some No Doubt music co-written by Dumont or Kanal in her various projects, which they’ve hitherto blocked. Stefani reportedly earns nearly $50m per year from TV, private appearances, endorsements, cosmetics and a clothing line. It’s rumored she may later return to Coachella as a solo act.

Fellow alternative rockers blink-182 nearly stole the show at Coachella in 2023 and made north of $150m on their own reunion tour, providing a template for a No Doubt follow-up trek. Will the members get along over those April weekends? A lot is riding on it.

Who else is primed for a reconciliation? Deep-pocketed dealmakers have spent years waving checks—ranging from quite large to obscene—at acts like Talking Heads, Oingo Boingo, R.E.M., Oasis, The Police and The Smiths to headline various festivals, so far without success.

Ron Laffitte, Brent Smith, Bruce Springsteen

If the usually bulletproof Coachella is underperforming—however slightly—where does that leave the rest of the touring industry? By way of example, a '90s alternative-rock summer stadium package featuring Green Day (CAA) and Smashing Pumpkins (IAG) was slower out of the gate than expected, though sales picked up noticeably after Green Day announced on The Howard Stern Show that their tour set list would encompass both Dookie and American Idiot in their entireties. One insider also points to “shaky” numbers for some shed and arena runs and heritage packages.

Those feasting at the moment include Adele, whose Live Nation run at Germany’s 80k-cap outdoor Munich Messe is comprised of 10 August shows with a potential audience of 800k (there were more than 1 million registrants for the first four dates). The Jonathan Dickins/Lucy Dickins-booked megastar’s nearly two-year Vegas residency at Caesars wraps in June.

Country artists Kenny Chesney and Zac Brown are selling out stadiums, Luke Bryan, Luke Combs and Chris Stapleton are selling out everywhere, relative newcomers Noah Kahan (Wasserman) and Olivia Rodrigo are hotter than hot on the touring circuit and the granddaddies of them all, the Rolling Stones (AEG) and Bruce Springsteen (CAA), continue to do incredible business.

AN USHER DOME RUN SCORES EXTRA POINTS: The rumors are true. Following an inaugural appearance by Dennis Arfa-booked Billy Joel, the second act to play L.A.’s brand new Intuit Dome will be USHER. Tickets for the Ron Laffitte/John Marx-repped star’s Live Nation shows 9/21-22 go up for pre-sale tomorrow (2/7) ahead of his 2/11 Super Bowl Halftime Show. The artist’s new album, COMING HOME (mega/gamma.), drops Friday (2/9). Intuit Dome owner Steve Ballmer is expected to spill more beans at the Pollstar Live! convention during his 2/8 panel with Pearl Jam’s Jeff Ament.