McGraw/Hill rules country


Nashville — The second year of the McGraw/Hill Soul2Soul tour grossed more than $52 million, taking the two-summer total for the husband-and-wife co-headliners to more than $141 million, according to Billboard Boxscore. That's enough to make it the top-grossing country tour ever.

Soul2Soul II drew 1,673,667 fans to 117 shows. The tour wrapped Aug. 10-11 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, with a $2.5 million gross.

Despite the record-breaking tour, both Hill and McGraw were conspicuously absent from the top-tier categories when last week's CMA Awards nominations were announced.

Soul2Soul II now tops Garth Brooks' 1996-98 tour, which grossed more than $105 million. That trek had been country's only $100 million run.

Rod Essig and John Huie in CAA's Nashville office were the agents for the Soul2Soul tour, and Live Nation was the national promoter in 2007. In 2006, the tour worked with Live Nation, AEG Live and such independents as Jam Prods., Gary Marx, Outback Concerts, Fantasma Prods., Another Planet, Glenn Smith, Lowell MacGregor and Beaver Prods.

The previous two-year gross record had been Shania Twain in 2003-04 at about $90 million. Kenny Chesney has grossed about $300 million during the past six years, but each year the set is struck and the next year has its own identity, title and production, making each run a separate, individual "tour." Like Twain, the McGraw/Hill trek used the same extravagant production, title and theme for its entire run, making it one "tour," per se.

Despite the big boxoffice country is seeing these days, Brooks still holds the attendance record for a multiyear run at about 5.5 million.

"Every artist has a different mission; Garth wanted attendance," said McGraw's manager, Scott Siman of Front Line Management. "Our artists wanted to deliver the greatest possible show to the country fans, and they put the money into the production as never before seen in country music, rivaling the biggest rock productions of our time."

McGraw and Hill also toured as Soul2Soul in 2000, taking in about $50 million. There are no plans for the artists to tour again as co-headliners.

Ray Waddell is an executive director at Billboard.