McGraw Emerges as 2001 Touring Champ

Tim McGraw has a legitimate claim to the title of country’s top touring act for 2001, says a source at Billboard magazine. The singer’s camp is reporting that “Tim McGraw on Tour” grossed more than $25 million and drew more than 650,000 ticket-buying patrons over 43 dates this summer.

Though Billboard reported in June that the George Strait Country Music Festival earned $29 million, Ray Waddell, who covers touring for the trade magazine, now says a better estimate puts Strait’s total take at $24 million. Strait’s camp has not reported official numbers for the 16-date tour.

Measuring concert attendance and revenue is an inexact science. Unlike CD sales, which are counted by the automated system SoundScan, concert sales are reported by promoters, artists or concert venues. The most reliable count, Waddell says, comes at year-end, when artists and promoters submit figures to trade publications for year-end rankings.

Comparing the McGraw and Strait outings is “like apples and oranges,” Waddell contends. Strait boasted a large supporting cast that included Alan Jackson , Brad Paisley , Sara Evans , Lee Ann Womack and Lonestar , among others.

Unlike last year, when he toured in tandem with his wife, Faith Hill , on the Soul 2 Soul tour, McGraw was the primary draw on this year’s outing with Kenny Chesney and Mark Collie . “This is the last part of his game to come together,” Waddell says of McGraw’s strong numbers. “He already had it at radio and retail.”

Brooks & Dunn , with Montgomery Gentry , Toby Keith and Keith Urban , pulled in more than $14 million and drew more than 528,000 on the recently concluded Neon Circus and Wild West Show tour, according to figures supplied by Brooks & Dunn.

McGraw, Brooks & Dunn, Strait, Jackson and the inactive Dixie Chicks are nominated for entertainer of the year in voting for the upcoming (Nov. 7) Country Music Association Awards.

The Girls’ Night Out tour featuring Reba McEntire , Evans, Martina McBride , Jamie O’Neal and Carolyn Dawn Johnson grossed $8.6 million and drew 195,000 over 25 dates, Waddell reports.

Country tours generally have done well in a hit-or-miss summer plagued by an uncertain economy and high ticket prices, Waddell feels. Amusement Business reports that, worldwide, concert grosses are off 12.5% from a year ago, and attendance is off 17%.