P!nk vividly remembers one of the first times she played a show in Australia. “You expect someone in the front row to be like, ‘Yeah, I love this song!’ ” she recalls. “Instead they were like, ‘Tell them to turn your fucking microphone up!’ ” She was thrilled to recognize kindred spirits in the crowds. “I think they can smell bullshit a mile away, and I’ve never handed them any,” she says.
Merely a few years later, in 2009, her fan base Down Under had grown so much that she became the Brisbane Entertainment Centre’s biggest-selling artist ever, earning a unique honor from the venue: a row of six toilets, dubbed the “Pink Ladies.”
Since then, P!nk’s touring presence in Australia and New Zealand has only grown. On her latest worldwide trek, the Beautiful Trauma World Tour in 2018, P!nk spent over two months in Australia and New Zealand — 42 shows. That’s a recent high for the region that only she has previously surpassed, with 46 dates on the Truth About Love Tour in 2013-14 and an astounding 59 shows on her 2009 Funhouse Tour. And though her overall show count has decreased during her last three tours in the region, increased ticket sales and prices (including a recent $143.65 average for Australia — significantly higher than that of other visiting pop tours) have continued to pump up her grosses.
According to Billboard Boxscore, P!nk is the highest-grossing act of the 2010s in Oceania with about $135 million — well above the next-highest, Bruce Springsteen, with around $85 million, and vastly greater than any of the region’s homegrown stars. That this particular artist has found such astounding success halfway around the globe “is not a fluke, nor a product of a market change or quirk,” says Michael Coppel, chairman of Live Nation Australasia. “There is an uncanny synchronicity between P!nk’s personality and her outgoing, upfront nature that meshes well with the Aussie ethos.”
Her 42 concerts in 2018 were split among five cities in Australia and two in New Zealand, with the singer playing an average of six arena shows in each. Her extended stays in Oceania are especially impressive given the limited route that U.S. artists generally take across the continent, compared with the relatively endless expanse of stops that the North American market offers; P!nk played 46 shows in the United States and Canada on the same tour in 2018. (Because Australia and New Zealand have a limited number of markets — and due to the high costs of moving concert productions across continents — Australian ticket prices have historically been higher than their U.S. equivalents.)
The venues P!nk played in 2018 ranged in capacity from 7,548 in Brisbane to 37,470 in Dunedin, New Zealand, the lone stadium on her Oceania sweep. Ultimately, she sold 559,361 tickets, 98% of the total combined capacity. Her five headline tours have all taken place during the region’s winter, ruling out open-air stadiums but also ensuring less competition, as the timing coincides with the height of summer festival season stateside.
P!nk is far from the only marquee star to have seized upon the market opportunity in the region. Katy Perry played 25 Australian shows on her 2014-15 Prismatic World Tour, planning multiple concerts in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, much like P!nk. In 2018, Ed Sheeran sold over 1 million tickets in Australia on his record-setting ÷ (Divide) Tour, earning $82.6 million from 18 stadium shows. The same year, Taylor Swift prioritized Australia over a full-blown European tour, grossing $27 million in five stadiums across the continent on her Reputation Stadium Tour.
“The distance isn’t [considered] as far as it used to be,” says veteran promoter Michael Gudinski, chairman of Melbourne-based entertainment agency Mushroom Group (which owns concert promoters including Frontier Touring Group). “A lot of acts go through here to South America; a lot of acts come from Asia to here. It is a lot easier to tour here than going country by country in Europe or Southeast Asia.”
And while P!nk’s routes in the region have focused on arenas that typically top out at 15,000 tickets, Elton John will play a mix of major markets and countryside towns when he travels there in November for 40 dates (34 in Australia and six in New Zealand). Though his show count narrowly falls behind P!nk’s, his potential grosses could be record-breaking, as he will cover a more even mix of arenas and stadiums.
Overall, grosses in Oceania have increased tour-over-tour-over-tour for P!nk, Sheeran and Swift, as well as a host of other acts making extended visits to Australia and New Zealand. “Australian audiences appreciate the tyranny of distance that artists have to travel,” says Matthew Lazarus-Hall, senior vp Asia Pacific at AEG Presents. “There is an affection or brand loyalty that can be harnessed.”
Additional reporting by Nolan Feeney and Alexei Barrionuevo.
This article originally appeared in the Nov. 2 issue of Billboard.