Top artists’ concert revenues typically 2-3x their album sales

By January 22, 2010Music

The Vancouver Sun recently posted a list of the top ten music earners of the last decade.  Aside from being shocked at how few newish stars made the list I was interested to see that nearly all of them made more money from concert ticket sales than album sales.  It would be interesting to know if the same ratio holds for smaller artists.  Here are a couple of excerpts from the list:

Position in list Album sales Concert sales
Celine Dion 1 $256m $522m
U2 5 $219m $391m
Bruce Springsteen 7 $144m $443m
Britney Spears 10 $299m $196m

I included Britney to make the point that there are outliers, and Eminem is another, he sold more albums than anyone else, but he doesn’t tour much and so didn’t make the top ten.

The bigger point though, is that for most of the top stars live performances are where the action is at – which is important for the whole piracy and artist revenues from internet music services debate.  Specifically, I wonder how many of those concert tickets were bought by fans who got to like the artist after listening to tracks downloaded from bittorrent.  Maybe piracy is helping the artists to make money.  Going forward the same could be said about Spotify – even if artists feel they are not making enough money directly from the service it may be a strong driver of concert ticket sales.