image from here 

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

#42 André Rieu, 89 shows in 74 cities – #4 Bruno Mars, 121 shows in 92 cities
#46 Little Mix, 71 shows in 57 cities – #95 John Legend, 63 shows in 55 cities

Q: Why Is the Number of Shows Not Equal to the Number of Cities?

The easy version: artist on tour now sometime stop a bit longer in cities where they're popular. So instead of doing one show in New York, they might do three. This is not very difficult to grasp (Drake performed 8x in the O2 in London in 2017). But to get the terminology right, we have to get a little technical first.

Technical Terminology

92% of acts did 'repeat performances' of this kind in 2017. This is known as a 'run of shows' sometimes and means that an act performs more than one show at the same venue in the same city, on consecutive days (or close enough).

Pollstar for the first time to our knowledge started in 2017 to report number of shows and number of cities performed as two separate numbers. And for a good reason, as the examples above show.

Touring as We Know It

TOURING: Touring as we know it refers to when an artist takes their act on tour, and goes from city to city to perform it. This Green Day tour leg screenshot shows what we mean, where there is 1 show in each 1 city visited.

That's touring, right?

Except now with these run of shows popping up everywhere, they're worth looking at closer. The best term we've found for this phenomenon is concert series.

Introducing the 'Concert Series'

CONCERT SERIES: Concert series are when one artist basically performs as often in a city as people are willing to buy tickets for it. Let's take a look at an example.

In 2017 Roger Waters performed 63 shows in 46 cities. He didn't do a 'residency' anywhere in the sense of placing himself in a single city for 17 performances and then carrying on with his tour as normal.

Rather, instead of performing one show in high demand areas, he'd perform two, or even three or four shows in a row on consecutive days (or close enough), and only then would he move to the next city.

For Waters' in 2017, there were two performances at the Pepsi Center in Denver, three in Los Angeles' Staples Center, two in Chicago's United Center, three in Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, two in Brooklyn, two in Uniondale, two in Boston, three in Montreal.

The screenshot shows Roger Waters' 2018 Oceania leg, with repeat performances in most cities. His 2018 tour is already on sale and shows he's booked to perform these concert series all through Europe, from 4 shows in Italy's Unipol Arena in Bologna, to two in Dublin, Zurich and Copenhagen each, and three in Amsterdam.

But Why Do Acts Do This?

Waters' venues tend to be in the 10-15k capacity range. Being able to double up for high demand regions gives his management better chances of setting up a sold out tour. He can consistently sell out 10k capacity arenas in most places, but where the demand is higher, the supply can be doubled by adding another performance (or tripled, quadrupled, etc.).

Selling out 20k capacity stadiums would be within his reach in his most concentrated fan regions, but would be a stretch elsewhere. The additional strain on management and marketing might be more than the value gained for a tour in bigger venues.

This post explores stadium and arena tours further. The bottom line is it comes down to a point of preference for the acts and their management. A sold out arena tour might be a better option than a half-sold stadium tour – even if the net number of tickets sold might be the same.

Case Study: Garth Brooks' World Tour

American – Country – active on/off since 1984
number one in country

gross $101 mil
1.4 million people attended
93 shows in 27 cities

A Lesson in Concert Series

The king of the concert series has to be Garth Brooks.

He famously exhausts the demand in each city he goes to after returning from his 14 year long hiatus, which means sets of shows up to five, six, seven performances per city are common; up to an astounding eleven shows in a row in Minneapolis.

His success is not just limited to the live arena, he's one of the best selling recording artist of all time:

"According to the RIAA, he is the best-selling solo albums artist in the United States with 148 million domestic units sold, ahead of Elvis Presley, and is second only to the Beatles in total album sales overall. He is also one of the world's best-selling artists of all time, having sold more than 170 million records."
– from here

Brooks wants to visit all the fans who so generously waited and returned to him after his hiatus so he named his tour the World Tour. It's going swimmingly. The only hitch is that even though the tour has been going since 2014, he's yet to make it out of the United States and Canada, due to his performing as many times as it takes in each city.

The Wikipedia page for this tour hilariously has a section for "Ticket sales and records" which features the line: "Many arena's ticket sales records have been held by Brooks from his previous world tours; these have since been broken by Brooks again.".

Since Brooks doesn't get through more than two cities a month, there's no wonder he hasn't made it off the continent yet!

In 2017 he performed 93 times in 27 cities. That means for every city he visited, he didn't perform once (which has been the norm up until this point) but over 3 times on average, often 5-7 times. If he'd run out of days – simple, he'd perform twice on those days (known as matinee shows – shown as "2 shows" on the image).

His only 'single' performance in 2017 was in Atlanta; where he performed seven times in 2014 selling 53,000 tickets in that city alone.

Garth Brooks' Friends in Low Places