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One Direction, George Strait, Luke Bryan are tops in 2014 tours

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The King of Country Music is once again king of the country road.


George Strait had the highest ticket sales of any country music tour in 2014, according to a new list released by StubHub, and he was second only to British pop sensation One Direction overall. Luke Bryan comes in behind his fellow country troubadour at Number Three on the ticket resale website's year-end list, topping Justin Timberlake at Number Four.

"I don't think we realize how huge country music is," StubHub executive Glen Lehrman tells Ad Week. "Traditionally, we think of pop music as the one that is going to drive the most interest in ticket sales — your Beyonce, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga.... George Strait didn't do that many dates, but his last concert ever was by far one of the biggest events we had in 2014."

That final Strait show, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas (home of the Dallas Cowboys), was attended by 104,793 fans. It set the record for the largest indoor concert ever in North America, topping a previous attendance record set by the Rolling Stones in 1981. The star-studded show (surprise guests included Miranda Lambert, Faith Hill and Eric Church) marked the end of Strait's illustrious, 33-year touring career, but retirement is still a four-letter word. The country icon has promised at least five more albums of all-new material in the coming years.

As for Bryan's spot on StubHub's list, Billboard begs to differ: It places his 2014 touring at Number One among country treks but 14th overall. It lists Strait as Number 16, and agrees that One Direction was the top-grossing touring artist of the year.

Bryan, the reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year, had 1.7 million fans attend his shows this year — numbers combined from three different trips: the That's My Kind of Night Tour, the Farm Tour, and the Spring Break 2014 Tour.

"We've played all types of shows this year," says Bryan. "It's just as exciting to play for smaller capacity crowds during a two-day run in the very northern point of Canada as it is to 60,000 screaming fans at the stadiums shows... or to the first-time fan who may have never been to a concert until the Farm Tour came to their small rural community."

StubHub is expecting big numbers in 2015 from a different crop of touring (or rumored-to-be-touring) artists: Adele, Coldplay, Foo Fighters, Taylor Swift and U2.

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