The crowd is Rod Stewart’s 1994 New Year’s Eve concert in Brazil

By Haddon Libby

As one of the largest music festivals in the world each year, the Coachella Music & Arts Festival attracts approximately 125,000 people a day resulting in festival revenues for Goldenvoice that Forbes estimates exceed $125 million.

To help you get some perspective on the sheer size of what Goldenvoice orchestrates in the Coachella Valley every year, if we exclude free concerts, there have been only ten single headliner concerts to outdraw the Coachella Music Festival ever.

The largest paid concert ever was for 220,000 by Vasco Rossi in Moderna, Italy on July 1st, 2017.  Rossi is one of Italy’s most successful singer-songwriters for more than thirty years.  As Rossi retired from touring a few years earlier, the performance was seen by many as a last chance to see him…a feeling experienced by many of us who attended Desert Trip and saw The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, The Who, Neil Young and Roger Waters perform over three days.


Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana Stadium is home to the second, third and fourth largest concerts ever.  Paul McCartney performed in front of 184,000 in 1990 while Tina Turner sang and danced before 180,000 in 1988 as did Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra in 1980.  The only other performers to exceed 125,000 are Luciano Ligabue, Bruce Springsteen, U2, Queen, Madonna, The Rolling Stones and Michael Jackson. 

Looking at free concerts, Rod Stewart’s 1994 New Year’s Eve concert on Copacabana Beach drew 3.5 million attendees.  Jean-Michel Jarre matched Stewart’s feat when he played at the 850th anniversary of Moscow in 1997. Jarres’ Bastille Day concert in Paris in 1990 drew 2 million.

The most successful tour of all time has to go to U2 and their 360º Tour of eight years ago with $736 million in revenues.  Look at in terms of average revenues per show, U2’s 360º Tour averaged $6.7 million in revenues per show over their 110 shows for an average audience size was 66,000. These were not intimate performances.

Based on gross revenues, Guns N’ Roses’ most recent tour ranks second most successful ever with revenues of $563 million followed by the Rolling Stones “A Bigger Bang Tour” at $558 million, Ed Sheeran’s most recent tour at $556 million followed by Coldplay’s tour of a few years ago. 

Based on revenues per show, Taylor Swift’s last tour has the second highest average at $6.5 million. U2’s Joshua Tree tour in 2017 comes in third at $6.3 million followed by Madonna’s “Sticky & Sweet” tour of a decade ago at $4.8 million per show.  Remember Madonna? 

Looking at attendance per show, Taylor Swift is second at 54,500, U2s Joshua Tree tour at 53,000, The Rolling Stones’ Voodoo Lounge Tour of 1995 at 51,000 and One Direction at 49,900 per Pollstar.

According to Forbes, in 2018, Ed Sheehan was the top grossing performer grossing $429 million over 99 concert dates.  Taylor Swift was second with $315 million over 48 shows followed by Mr. & Mrs Beyoncé at $253 million from 48 shows, Bruno Mars with $238 million from 100 shows and P!nk at $180 million from 88 shows.  The Rolling Stones who have been a top grossing act every decade since the 1960s grossed an impressive $118 million from 14 shows.

As a reminder, festival season isn’t over out here in the Coachella Valley.

Country music fans will take over the Polo Fields for the Stagecoach Music Festival from April 26 through the 28th.  For more information, visit

For those looking for a more intimate, family-friendly festival experience, check out “Live/Love like there is No Tomorrow” at the Joshua Tree Music Festival from May 16-19.  For more information, visit

Haddon Libby is the Founder and Managing Partner of Winslow Drake Investment Management – a Fiduciary-Only Investment Management practice.  For more information, email or visit