U2's concert tour took in a total $3.07 billion last year. Picture: AFP / Source: AFP
THE music industry showed signs of potential recovery in 2011, as sales of albums and concert tickets reversed declines, though it would be premature to declare a full-fledged recovery.
The year's biggest concert tours made more money at the box office than they did in 2010, thanks to sharp price increases that offset declines in the number of tickets sold, according to Pollstar, a trade magazine.
The 50 top-grossing tours, led by U2, took in a total $3.07 billion, up 3.7 percent from 2010. Those tours sold a combined 35.5 million tickets, down 8.7 percent from the year earlier. Average prices for those shows, however, jumped 13.6 percent, to $86.53, the magazine said.
The box-office uptick was welcomed by the concert industry, which suffered a down year in 2010. But the ongoing decline in number of tickets sold could be a sign that consumers are still put off by ticket prices.
U2 made $231.9 million from 26 shows in 34 cities. The No. 2 tour, by a reunion of the '90s British boy band Take That, made $224 million from 35 shows in 17 cities, none of them in the US, Pollstar noted.
Recorded-music sales in the US edged up for the first time since 2004, according to Nielsen SoundScan, thanks to lower prices, growing digital song sales and a massive hit from the singer Adele, whose album 21 sold more copies than any title in the last seven years.
The increase in yearly album sales, as measured in units, was only the second such increase since 2000, just before digital piracy and other problems began eroding the music market.
Even at 330.6 million units, up 1.3 percent from 2010, album sales were almost 58 percent below their peak level in 2000. The retail value of those albums is unclear, since SoundScan measures only units sold. Physical retailers and record companies cut prices of albums last year.
Individual song sales grew 8.5 percent to 1.27 billion songs, a more robust increase than in previous years, when growth flattened.
Combined album and song sales increased 3.2 percent, using a measurement that counts 10 songs as the equivalent of an album.