Harry Styles took home the major tour of the year award for the second year in a row at the 2023 Pollstar Awards, a peer-voted annual ceremony celebrating the achievements of the touring and live events industry. The evening honored executives, artists, festivals, venues and more, and included speeches that touched on hot topics from ticket scalpers to venue relief programs.
Styles’ “Love on Tour” also took home the residency of the year award, with one of his team members joking that he couldn’t be there because he was on his seventh year of the lengthy “Love on Tour.” He and Everytown for Gun Safety were also honored with the brand partnership/live campaign of the year award.
Additional tour of the year winners included acts such as Def Leppard and Mötley Crüe in the rock category, Post Malone for hip-hop, Lizzo for R&B, Billie Eilish for pop, Chris Stapleton for country, and finally, Bad Bunny for Latin.
Several of those artists submitted acceptance speech videos (although Lizzo didn’t appear in hers, she opted to have her tour dancers represent her with a “we the best” celebratory chant) including others like Joan Jett and Dua Lipa, who described her “Future Nostalgia” tour as “life-changing” experience after having waited so long to hit the road.
Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Eagles received the Pollstar Milestone Award in recognition of more than 50 years as a band. Don Henley accepted the award on behalf of the group, making the disclaimer that his ramblings were due to the fact that he had just hopped off of a flight after playing a show in San Francisco.
“I wear my work boots tonight; these are Red Wing work boots… I wear them in honor of my father who was a farmer and worked in an auto parts shop,” Henley told the room. “He gave me the work ethic that I have, and I share that work ethic with all the guys in the band — with Timothy, Joe, Vince, and Deacon, and all the rest of the guys, and I accept this award on their behalf this evening.”
Dave Chappelle accepted the award for comedy tour of the year, joking that although he had won in the category before, “I never came to pick it up!”
“After the pandemic, I couldn’t tell you guys how much I missed being on the road with everyone, and this last tour was very special,” he said. Naturally, Chapelle took the opportunity to poke fun at the Hollywood Bowl — where he was infamously attacked on-stage at the Bowl last May — which had just won the award for best outdoor venue. “I’m shocked,” he said. “It was only one tackle!”
Chappelle made another brief onstage cameo later that night, pretending to accept Disney on Ice’s trophy for the family, event, or non-music tour of the year award.
Dave Grohl also made an appearance to present the personal manager of the year award to John Silva, of Silva Artist Management. While on stage he called Pollstar “the one fucking awards ceremony that’s actually fun,” before delving into a heartfelt speech about his long-time manager.
“I’m here to honor a person that I’ve known for 33 years, the only manager I’ve ever had,” he said. “I met John Silva in 1990 when Nirvana came down to Los Angeles to find a manager…we knew that this person based his love of music and business on integrity. Over the years, we’ve had some incredible triumphs, and some devastating crises, but the one thing that has kept us together over the years has been love.”
Silva echoed Grohl in his own speech, stating that the win was both beautiful “and heartbreaking because it’s been a pretty fucking shitty year for us. losing an artist and a friend is not something I’d wish upon anyone,” he said, dedicating his win to late Foo Fighters member Taylor Hawkins, who died last year, along with Kurt Cobain.
The 34th annual ceremony also honored festivals like Austin City Limits, the Newport Folk Festival, Glastonbury UK, and more. Companies picking up awards included Messina Touring Group for promoter of the year, High Road Touring for independent booking agent of the year, CAA for booking agency of the year, Bandit Lites for best concert visuals, and Clair Global for best concert sound.
The Pollstar Awards followed a heavy day of panels that kicked off in the morning with a talk titled “Ticketing Real Talk: Reforms, Resolutions and Risks” moderated by Irving Azoff. Featuring speakers Garth Brooks, Jim Dolan and Makan Delrahim, the discussion tackled recent Congressional proceedings that scrutinized the ticketing system.
With his opening remarks, Azoff said that the fundamental problem with ticketing is demand exceeds supply — and when that happens, “there will always be bad actors looking to turn desperation into profit. Enter the scalpers in today’s massive secondary ticketing market,” he said.
He continued, “Scalping has always been a problem for the concert industry, but it only got to be a critical problem when the tech companies got involved and created these huge scale platforms like Vivid StubHub and SeatGeek, that profit from every scalper sale.”
Referencing high-profile examples like U2’s MSG Sphere run in Las Vegas, Azoff called for action to make deceptive practices illegal.
Delrahim, former attorney general for the United States Department of Justice’s antitrust division, added that while policymakers are “well-intentioned but ill-informed,” legislators need to shift their attention to the issue as a matter of property rights, similarly to the politics surrounding a songwriting credit.
Azoff concluded on a hopeful note, stating that the Senate Judiciary hearings that took place in January were a “wake-up call” and also an opportunity to “let fans be heard.”
The full list of winners at the 34th annual Pollstar Awards:
Major Tour of the Year
Harry Styles, Love on Tour
Rock Tour of the Year
Def Leppard/Mötley Crüe, The Stadium Tour
Hip-Hop Tour of the Year
Post Malone, Twelve Carat Tour
R&B Tour of the Year
Lizzo, The Special Tour
Pop Tour of the Year
Billie Eilish, Happier Than Ever, The World Tour
Country Tour of the Year
Chris Stapleton, All-American Road Show Tour
Latin Tour of the Year
Bad Bunny, World’s Hottest Tour
Comedy Tour of the Year
Support/Special Guest Act of the Year
Joan Jett & the Blackhearts / Mötley Crüe, Def Leppard
Residency of the Year
Harry Styles, Madison Square Garden, New York
Family, Event or Non-Music Tour of the Year
Disney on Ice
New Headliner of the Year
Music Festival of the Year (Global; over 30K attendance)
Austin City Limits Music Festival, Austin, TX
Music Festival of the Year (Global; under 30K attendance)
Newport Folk Festival, Newport, RI
International Music Festival of the Year
Glastonbury Festival, United Kingdom
Nightclub of the Year
Exit/In, Nashville, TN
Theatre of the Year
Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, TN
Arena of the Year
Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, TN
Red Rocks Award – Outdoor Concert Venue of the Year
Hollywood Bowl, Hollywood, CA
New Concert Venue of the Year
Moody Center, Austin, TX
International Venue of the Year
The O2, United Kingdom
Venue Executive of the Year
Josephine Vaccarello, Madison Square Garden
Talent Buyer of the Year
Amy Corbin, C3 Presents
Small Venue Talent Buyer of the Year
Molly Warren, Live Nation
Bill Graham Award / Promoter of the Year
Louis Messina, Messina Touring Group
International Promoter of the Year
Arthur Fogel, Live Nation
Bobby Brooks Award – Agent of the Year
Adam Kornfeld, Artist Group International
International Booking Agent of the Year
Emma Banks, CAA
Booking Agency of the Year
Independent Booking Agency of the Year (Global)
High Road Touring
Rising Star Award
Austin Neal, The Neal Agency
Personal Manager of the Year
John Silva, Silva Artist Management
Road Warrior of the Year
Dale “Opie” Skjerseth / The Rolling Stones, Guns ‘N Roses
Transportation Company of the Year
Concert Visuals Company of the Year
Concert Sound Company of the Year
Thank You, Can I Have Another? Award
Austin City Limits
Brand Partnership/Live Campaign of the Year
Everytown for Gun Safety / Harry Styles
Marketing/PR Executive of the Year
Allison McGregor, CAA
Coldplay, Music of the Spheres World Tour
Austin City Limits Music Festival, Austin, TX
The Irving Azoff Award: Best Person to Score a Dinner With
Michael Rapino, Live Nation
Life of the Party
Ron Delsener, Live Nation
The Per Cap Award
The Dayum! Award
Bad Bunny, World’s Hottest Tour
Live Music is Better Award
Foo Fighters, Taylor Hawkins Tribute at the Kia Forum
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