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Seven things we learned from 2010's year-end tour data

Pollstar recently released its list of the top 100 tours of 2010, with Bon Jovi in the No. 1 slot, selling $108 million worth of tickets in the U.S. and $201 million worldwide.

Pollstar recently released its list of the top 100 tours of 2010, with Bon Jovi in the No. 1 slot, selling $108 million worth of tickets in the U.S. and $201 million worldwide.

Roger Waters' tour of "The Wall" and AC/DC occupied slots two and three on the annual worldwide list, once again proving that certain aging rockers have unique followings that are willing to cough up big bucks for tickets. Elsewhere, the data was bleak: With 38.3 million tickets sold, the year was down 15% from 2009 while the total show count was down only 8 percent. The average ticket price, though, rose about 4 percent.

Here are a few other interesting tidbits in Pollstar's top 50, and what they might mean for 2011.

7. Packaged nostalgia.
The combination of James Taylor and Carole King -- who performed together in 1970s a few times, but not afterward -- must have promoters chomping at the bit for another logical pairing of aging pop-rockers beyond Elton & Billy. Taylor and King pulled in $50.7 million on an average ticket price of $82.60, nearly selling out all 44 of their shows. But who would be on that magical double-bill? Bob Seger? Stevie Wonder? Stevie Nicks? David Bowie?

6. R.I.P, "American Idol"
Carrie Underwood is the only performer with "American Idol" credentials in the top 50. The days of the package tour and the winners/runners-up playing arenas have quickly become a thing of the past.

5. Taylor, Carrie and ?
Country music traditionally looks good on year-end lists, largely due to package tours and the fact that some artists stay on the road in the U.S. much longer than other genres. Nine country artists filled the top 50 with the George Strait, Reba McEntire and Lee Ann Womack package grossing the most: $41.6 million. Carrie Underwood, the only musical artist with more than 100 dates, and Taylor Swift came in at No. 18 and 19, but that's it for youth. Packages featuring new discoveries did not make the new lists. Country music is mirroring rock as solo shows from established artists -- Toby Keith, Tim McGraw, etc. -- dominate the top grosses.

4. Are we done with the '80s?
While plenty of bands that came of age in the 1970s had hits the following decade, only two acts closely associated with their 1980s hits made it into the top 50 -- Bon Jovi and Iron Maiden. The '90s, meanwhile, had 11. Guess America no longer wants its MTV.

3. Not everyone wants to hear music.
Five of the top 50 attractions were not musical concerts. Jeff Dunham was the highest-grossing comic at $27.7 million; Cirque du Soleil's "Alegria" was the top-earning theatrical presentation, pulling in $48.1 million, which is almost $4 million more than Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

2. The appearance of pop-up shows.
Paul McCartney never embarked on a tour per se. Instead, his 21 shows were announced piecemeal, as if each one were special one night only performances. When acts such as Sade announce a city in which they will perform a year in advance, it alerts fans to start saving for a show in the distant future. The McCartney m.o. goes the opposite direction: suddenly declaring a show and an on-sale date with little warning. The public's response has been enthusiastic, even with tickets topping $300. Who else could use that tactic?

1. There may finally be a new collection of concert artists.
In a breakdown of artists by the decades in which they first broke, 17 of the top 50 acts have found success within the last 10 years. That is significant, because most newer artists play a) smaller venues and b) have less expensive ticket prices. In previous years, the hitmakers of the 1970s have dominated largely because they command the highest ticket prices and play the largest buildings. Michael Buble and Lady Gaga were in the top 10; Justin Bieber was only $2 million behind No. 9's Black Eyed Peas.


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