They say touring is a young man’s game, but when it comes to the music industry’s most lucrative live acts, it’s the veteran artists who reign supreme.
A new analysis by Tim Ingham of Rolling Stone reveals that the average age of the world’s top-selling touring artists is 52.6 years old.
All told, six of the 10 artists found on Pollstar’s 2019 midyear report on the top live acts are over the age of 55, and three are over 70. No. 1 is Sir Elton John, age 72. Metallica and Fleetwood Mac, whose members’ average age is 55 and 72, respectively, rank at No. 4 and 5. Kiss, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and Bob Seger also place in the top 10.
Of the younger acts on Pollstar’s top 10 list, only two — Travis Scott and Ed Sheeran — are under the age of 30. The list is rounded out by Pink, 39, and Justin Timberlake, 38.
And as Ingham points out, this is by no means a new trend. In 2015, the average age of top global artists was 39.8. That number rose to 48.3 in 2016, and to 48.7 in 2018.
There are a lot of obvious factors contributing to an older-skewing demographic. Most notably, veteran legacy acts can charge more for tickets than younger newcomers. Older fans also have more disposable income and are more apt to purchase high-priced tickets for multiple dates.
Additionally, several of the more lucrative younger artists — such as Taylor Swift, Adele, and Rihanna — didn’t tour much in the last year.
Even still, the number is somewhat alarming. As recently as 2013, the average age of top global artists was 35.3 — some 20 years younger than it is in 2019.
Also, an artist’s popularity on streaming services doesn’t necessarily correlate to ticket sales. The average age of the “most consumed” artists in 2019 is 29.2, according to Nielsen, and if you remove the presence of Queen (who were no doubt bolstered by the film Bohemian Rhapsody), that average falls to 24.7.
Ariana Grande, the most streamed artist, has the 19th highest-grossing tour in 2019, whereas other popular streaming artists such as Khalid, Juice WRLD, Future, and NBA Young Boy are nowhere to be found among the top 100 names on Pollstar’s report.
Top 10 Worldwide Tours in 2019 (Pollstar):
01. Elton John (72)
02. Pink (39)
03. Justin Timberlake (38)
04. Metallica (55)
05. Fleetwood Mac (72)
06. Ed Sheeran (28)
07. Kiss (64)
08. Trans-Siberian Orchestra (56)
09. Bob Seger (74)
10. Travis Scott (28)
Top 10 Most Streamed Artists in 2019 (Nielsen)
01. Ariana Grande (26)
02. Drake (32)
03. Billie Eilish (17)
04. Post Malone (24)
05. Queen (70, across original-recordings performers)
06. Khalid (21)
07. Juice WRLD (20)
08. Future (35)
09. NBA Young Boy (19)
10. Travis Scott (28)