On April 23, just a day after his upcoming album # 3 was released on the Billboard 200, Iggy Azalea was on stage at the House of Blues in Boston performing in front of 2,500 sold-out spectators. A major performer in front of a small crowd – investors call it a âperishable experienceâ; fans call it a unique moment. It repeats itself time and time again in the club world, and this is one of the reasons the live music industry remains paramount in an entertainment culture that is increasingly on-demand streaming and DVRs. Live Nation, which occupies 21 of 25 spots on Billboard’s annual list of the busiest clubs in North America, reported $ 2 billion in revenue in 2013, with gross ticket revenue up 30%.
Indications are that 2014 will be just as strong, and Live Nation stock is up 14 percent in the 12 months ended July 31, to $ 21.16. âOverall, for our portfolio, we have increased the number of shows and ticket sales,â said Ron Bension, CEO of House of Blues Entertainment. âIt’s a good deal if you can withstand the cycles, and we were able to. How good is that? Billboard estimates gross annual ticket sales for Live Nation clubs to approach $ 300 million per year.
The Live Nation portfolio is made up of around 80 clubs and theaters, of which around 65 are clubs under the House of Blues or Fillmore banners, with others including established venues like the Tabernacle in Atlanta (# 8), the Palladium in Hollywood ( n Â° 14). ) and Irving Plaza in New York (No. 17).
âFour years ago Live Nation started this organization and put all the clubs and theaters under one roof, and they made a commitment to that,â Bension said. âWe have doubled our portfolio in the last three years of places that we operate or in which we exclusively reserve. But, more importantly, we are very committed to the development of artists. We start to help [developing acts], and we see proof of that when we see groups working with us in 300-seat theaters and 3,000-seat theaters.
Here is the list of the 25 most popular clubs in the United States (according to club reports to the Billboard Boxscore, May 1, 2013 through April 30, 2014):
1.) House of Blues, Orlando Florida: 339,470 (participation)
House of Blues Entertainment CEO Ron Bension remembers moving 7,000 attendees to this 2,200-seat venue for five different events in less than 24 hours: Guns’ N Roses at midnight, two gospel brunches, a local show in evening and a sold-out concert by Dropkick Murphys. .
2.) House of Blues, Boston: 322,755 (participation)
3.) 9:30 a.m. Club, Washington, DC: 268,727 (attendance)
4.) House of Blues, Dallas: 222,988 (participation)
5.) House of Blues, Chicago: 211,446 (participation)
6.) House of Blues, Houston: 209,799 (participating)
7.) House of Blues, Anaheim, CA: 192,424 (participation)
8.) Tabernacle, Atlanta: 185,769 (participation)
Originally a Baptist church, this Live Nation venue is a 104-year-old historic building that destroyed most of the surrounding buildings. It still retains its full pipe organ – which is 50 feet high and 32 feet wide – and has modernized other quirky touches, like the cladding of the VIP lounge with the gymnasium floor.
9.) House of Blues, Los Angeles: 172,005 (participation)
10.) House of Blues, San Diego: 155,938 (participation)
11.) House of Blues, Cleveland: 155,566 (participation)
12.) The Fillmore, Silver Spring, Maryland: 152,332 (participation)
The Fillmore opened in 2010 as part of Live Nation’s campaign to expand the San Francisco Fillmore Auditorium’s brand across the country. Once a story, the embodiment of Silver Spring was one of the first concert halls to be LEED certified. âWe literally have a green roof,â says Bension.
13.) The Fillmore, Denver: 151,387 (participation)
14.) Palladium, Hollywood: 148,555 (participation)
15.) House of Blues, New Orleans: 145,077 (participation)
16.) The Fillmore, San Francisco: 140,100 (participation)
17.) Irving Plaza, New York: 135,398 (participation)
18.) The Fillmore, Charlotte, NC: 133,212 (attending)
19.) House of Blues, Las Vegas: 131,208 (participation)
20.) House of Blues, Myrtle Beach, SC: 129,528 (participation)
21.) The Fillmore, Detroit: 129,199 (participation)
22.) Lifestyle Communities Pavilion, Columbus, Ohio: 128,975 (participation)
Nicknamed “the LC,” the Lifestyle Communities Pavilion is both indoor and outdoor. It is also part of the city’s Arena district, a sprawl of residences, restaurants, and event spaces that was once the state penitentiary. Next to it is the basement, a former shipping and receiving area, where smaller numbers occur. âIt’s one of the oldest buildings here,â says Marketing Director Marissa Luther. “They say it’s haunted.”
23.) The Paramount, Huntington, NY: 127,730 (participation)
24.) AE Internship, Pittsburgh: 124,013 (participation)
25.) Stubb’s Bar-BQ, Austin: 116,582 (participation)
In the famous Stubb’s restaurant and concert hall, nothing brings people together like a good barbecue – or like the newly renovated Airstream trailer in the back. âIt’s been gutted and lined with wood panels and decorated to be sleek and stylish, but it still has that age-old, outdoor music vibe,â says talented buyer Margaret Galton. âIt has become a cool place for groups to meet, talk or jam together. “
A version of this story appeared in the August 23 issue of Billboard.