On Wednesday night, country icon George Strait took home the award for “Top Country Tour” at the Billboard Music Awards, but it was a shock to many since he barely played any shows in the last year.
The King of Country’s win in the category was historic since the country artist, 68, was the oldest winner at the 2020 BBMAs. It was a surprising win to some, because Strait retired from touring back in 2012.
In fact, outside of a few concerts during Strait’s 2019 Las Vegas residency, the musician only played a handful of other shows. Billboard’s Top 5 tours ranked by total gross from 2019 didn’t even see Strait break the top four slots. Indeed, the country legend ranked fifth in the category with a $46 million total. He followed Eric Church ($56 million), Florida Georgia Line ($53 million), Carrie Underwood ($50 million), and Thomas Rhett ($46 million) in the tour rankings.
The top two on that list – Eric Church and Florida Georgia Line – were the other two nominees in Wednesday’s tour category. During last year, both country acts toured much more than Strait. Each played more than 45 shows, according to Billboard’s end of year 2019 report.
Strait Winning the BBMA’s “Top Country Tour” Award Explained
To make things even more confusing, Billboard’s report showed that Strait played only nine shows in 2019. However, there was one big difference between Strait and the other acts; the King of Country averaged more than $5 million per concert. Strait’s concerts on a per show basis blew the competition out of the water financially.
And here’s the kicker. The 2020 BBMA award winners are decided by using data from March 23, 2019, through March 14, 2020. Technically, those dates were aligned with the award show’s original air date, which was supposed to take place in April. Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the date back to October.
Another factor includes the fact that artists often spend the first three months of the year resting or recording new music. But, Strait had other plans, and decided to play five more shows previous to Billboard’s March 14 cut-off date. None of the other artists toured during that time frame.
Therefore if you add those five concerts at $5 million a pop, Strait grossed another $25 million. Add that to his 2019 gross of $46 million, and $71 million later, Strait beats Eric Church’s total of $65 million.
The King of Country may not have played nearly as many shows as his contemporaries did in 2019. But, George Strait dominated from a total gross standpoint, and no one else in the industry comes close.
[H/T Taste of Country]