The music industry received its now annual year-end bad news report, and to the shock of no one, CD sales continue its cliff-jumping ways. Perhaps the real surprise, then, is how in a downturn economy, live music remains durable, robust and ready for another year of unabashed price-gouging.
According to Pollstar, Madge's "Sticky and Sweet" tour, which stopped in Toronto last October and is ongoing, raked in the most bucks in '08, with the recent divorcee collecting a reported $105 million from spend-ready fans.
But don't tell that to those New Jersey stallions in Bon Jovi. Jon Bon and his manicured Jovi mates were crowned top concert dogs in '08 by Billboard. Their "Lost Highway" tour seemed to have found directions to the wallets and pocketbooks of approaching middle-agers, who coughed up a staggering $235 million, according to Billboard. Wanted dead or alive indeed.
Other heavy hitters on the arena circuit last year, according to Billboard, include the Boss ($204-mil), Celine Dion ($94-mil, according to Pollstar), Kenny Chesney ($86-mil) and the Eagles ($56-mil). Is there ever a year when the Eagles don't make a ridiculous amount of money from playing Hotel California six nights a week? It's obscene how much this band continues to gross considering they've made to two studio albums in the last 30 years. Talk about "takin' it easy."
Looking forward to '09, there are some big names hitting the road but it's still too early to project who can put the most over-50 asses in stadium seats.
There's heavy buzz on the Fleetwood Mac reunion, bolstered considerably by rumours that Sheryl Crow will take Christine McVie's spot. McVie went her own way in the late 90s and will not be in Toronto on March 26 for the group's appearance at ACC.
While Jerry Garcia drops acid in heaven the Grateful Dead are hitting the road again. The Dead are a reliable cash cow, except for the fact their fans are cash-broke hippies and the tour is only 19-dates long. No local date but April 21 in Buffalo is close enough to warrant a drug-fuelled road trip.
U2 have a new record coming out, which means more world dominance for them. And those annoying with- or without-Robert Plant rumours could finally yield a Led Zeppelin tour one profitable way or another.
And yes, the Vultures, er, Eagles will once again soar through stadiums, arenas, fairs, and amphitheatres across the world this summer, swooping in to grab more cash for their nests. Looks like hell will never freeze over for Don Henley.