NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The stock market is in the tank, the plant is closing and the neighbor is losing his home . . . the perfect time to go to a concert, by one measure.
The concert business grossed just under $4 billion worldwide in 2008, the most ever for a year and up almost 13 percent over last year, according to Billboard magazine.
"Overall, it's been a pretty good year for touring," said Ray Waddell, who covers the industry for Billboard. "I'd never say it's recession-proof, but it's resilient."
In North America, the average box-office gross was up 18 percent and the average attendance up 6.3 percent.
Bon Jovi's tour was the year's highest-grossing, based on the trade publication's data from Nov. 14, 2007, to Nov. 11 of this year. It grossed $210.6 million and drew nearly 2.2 million fans.
Bruce Springsteen was second ($204.5 million gross) followed by Madonna ($162 million).
The most lucrative country tours were Kenny Chesney, sixth on the list with $86 million gross; and Rascal Flatts, 10th with $55.8 million.
"It's not something you can get a fix for somewhere else," Waddell said of live music. "There's no other substitute for it, and compared to other things, it's pretty affordable."
Fans keep coming. First-week sales for Britney Spears' 2009 tour were strong enough that extra dates were added, and AC/DC and Metallica have already sold out shows for January and February.
Last month, concert promoter giant Live Nation reported third-quarter profit more than tripled to $139.9 million.
But Waddell warned: "It would be crazy to think that the economy and unemployment won't impact ticket sales at some point." *