Image from this performance 

This post is a part of a series digging into the stories revealed by the data of The Top 100 Tours of 2017.
Find the list here and an overview of the other stories here.

A Closer Look

Q: How Can Some Tours Sell so Many Tickets Yet Not Rank Higher?

The relationship between "number of tickets sold" and "end of year rank" tends to be pretty linear. The 4 acts that sold over 2 million tickets in 2017, are also the top 4 ranking acts of the year.

Looking more closely at the 9 acts which sold between 1 and 2 million tickets in 2017 reveals a notable exception to this linear trend. Most rank near enough to the top; but two don't. Country artists Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line both sold over 1 million tickets in 2017, yet ranked 32nd and 33rd.

As we learned here:
Gross (determines rank) = Tickets Sold x Ticket Price
Lower gross with these high ticket sales numbers, must mean ticket prices are significantly lower than the average.

Consistent in the Country Genre

Low and behold, tickets for Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan average on $54 a ticket. For context, the average ticket price on the 2017 Top 100 list is $90*.

Digging deeper into the data shows that this is a trend consistent across the whole country genre: low ticket prices, with many many many tickets sold.

  • Jason Aldean, Zac Brown Band, Chris Stapleton, Dierks Bentley, Sam Hunt all make the top 100;
    => all sell their tickets for under $50 a piece
    => and also all sold well over half a million tickets in 2017
  • Tim McGraw / Faith Hill and Eric Church are also listed;
    => ticket prices are below annual average of $90 per,
    => both acts sold over 930,000 tickets in 2017
  • For the biggest star in country, Garth Brooks (ranked 10th)
    => the average person pays $72 to attend his shows
    => that price is well below the average, and is the lowest for a Top 20 act
    => he sold 1.4 million tickets in 2017

What's Happening Here?

Although the CMA reports that preconceptions of the country audience are becoming increasingly outdated, the truth is country music has its roots in American folk music which is often associated with parts of the North-American continent where prices in general are lower, including ticket prices for live events.

The conclusion to draw here is that acts in the country genre are pricing their tickets to match the parts of the country where their audience lives; regardless of how it compares against other genres. If the strategy is to sell lots and lots of tickets by keeping prices down; it's working.

Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line are both shining examples of this; and Garth Brooks has reported he keeps his ticket prices low on purpose. If Pollstar's end of year Top 100 list would be by number of tickets sold, the 2017 chart would be a whole lot more country y'all.

It's not a stretch to conclude that low ticket prices are a strategic choice for acts in the country genre: to sell a significantly higher number of tickets.

* for simplification we're not discussing the ticket resale markets here. These prices are as reported by Pollstar.

Luke Bryan & Florida Georgia Line Performing Together