Stones, Streisand among biggest tours of '06

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Concert tours by the Rolling Stones, Barbra Streisand and country duo Tim McGraw and Faith Hill were among the top-grossing tours in North America in 2006, helping drive ticket revenue to a record $3.6 billion, according to figures released Thursday by Pollstar, the industry trade magazine.

The figures represent a 16% increase over 2005, when North American concert ticket sales totaled $3.1 billion, said Gary Bongiovanni, Pollstar's editor-in-chief.

Concert receipts for the top 100 tours of the year totaled $2.33 billion, up 12.6% from last year.

"Not only did we set a record for gross revenues, but we did it by selling more tickets rather than more expensive tickets," Bongiovanni said.

Fans purchased 37.9 million tickets to the top 100 concert tours, compared with 36.3 million in 2005, according to Pollstar.

The average ticket price paid to attend a show on those tours was $61.45, up 8% over last year's average of $56.88, Bongiovanni said.

The average ticket price increase, which amounts to about $4.57, was similar to the increase seen between 2004 and 2005.

"That's a good sign for the business," Bongiovanni said.

The Rolling Stones' "A Bigger Bang" tour, which actually began in the fall of 2005, led all other concert tours this year with $138.5 million in gross receipts, Pollstar said.

The average Stones ticket was $136.63. The tour sold about 1.01 million tickets.

Streisand's tour ranked second, generating $92.5 million in gross sales. The average ticket price was $298.36.

The tour by McGraw and Hill brought $88.8 million in gross receipts, with the average ticket selling for $80.92.

Meanwhile, Madonna's tour racked up $85.9 million in gross ticket sales. The average ticket price paid to see the Material Girl was $183.76.

Country crooner Kenny Chesney's tour led all others in the number of tickets sold with 1.13 million. His tour pulled in $66 million in gross receipts, with the average ticket going for $58.34.

Celine Dion and Barry Manilow had popular shows staged mostly in Las Vegas.

Dion's shows brought $78.1 million in gross receipts, while Manilow's shows drew $29.2 million in gross receipts.

Not all the tours that pulled in hefty gross ticket sales were put on by individual touring artists. The Cirque Du Soleil "Delirium" tour generated $82.1 million, while Trans-Siberian Orchestra earned $37.3 million. Another extravaganza, the "American Idols Live" tour, pulled in $35 million.

The Dixie Chicks rounded out the top 25 tours of the year, generating $27.1 million in gross receipts despite the group's lingering fallout with country fans over lead singer Natalie Maines' criticism of President Bush three years ago.

Among the other veteran acts that ended the year in the top 25 by sales receipts were Coldplay, The Who, Dave Matthews Band, Shakira and Bon Jovi.
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