Spice Girls, Prince Rake in Concert Cash

Slumping world economy notwithstanding, top concerts still have fans spending.

ByDAVID K. RANDALL<br/> Forbes.com

August 11, 2008&#151; -- The dollar may be weak and vacationers loathe to board planes, but that hasn't stopped music fans from flocking to see their favorite performers.

The Spice Girls lead the pack of recent top-earners. Emma Bunton, Geri Halliwell, Melanie Brown, Melanie Chisholm and Victoria Beckham earned $33 million in 17 shows at London's 20,000-capacity O2 Arena in January.

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The British girl group behind hits like "Wannabe" and "Say You'll Be There" had the biggest concert take of the year, measured as the twelve months ended April 2008. All 17 shows sold out in one minute.

Prince also left O2 richer. His sold-out 21-night run grossed $22 million last August. The audience received free copies of his new album, "Planet Earth."

The Police earned three spots on the list. The band grossed $15.3 million by packing more than 104,000 into France's national stadium, Stade de France, in Paris on two dates in early September 2007.

The band also sold out two shows at the 50,000-seat Tokyo Dome in February, grossing $7 million on this leg of the world tour. Another big-ticket performance drew 59,000 Police fans (and $5.4 million) to Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro for South America's highest-grossing concert of all time.

While New Jersey rock band Bon Jovi made news last month with a free concert in New York's Central Park, it made history in October by opening the new Prudential Center in downtown Newark, N.J. The band's 10-day sold-out run drew 138,000 fans altogether and grossed $16.3 million.

In all, North American fans helped ticket sales top a record $3.9 billion last year, but that didn't keep musicians close to home. A large festival market in Europe, plus a weak dollar, is helping draw American performers on extended overseas tours.

The Download Festival at Donington Park in Castle Donington, England, grossed $20.3 million in June 2007. Its headliners included Linkin Park, Velvet Revolver and My Chemical Romance.

Linkin Park also helped the Rock am Ring show in Nurburgring to a $12.6 million gross that month. Smashing Pumpkins and Korn also headlined.

Stateside, the three-day Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, Calif., grossed $17 million in April 2007. Fans rocked to Rage Against the Machine, Red Hot Chili Pepper and Björk.

And the June 2007 Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tenn., grossed $17 million off the hits of bands like The Police, Tool and the White Stripes.

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