In the time of digital streaming services, live performances have become an increasingly lucrative space for musicians — especially as ticket prices continue to rise. But even before concert tickets went for hundreds of dollars a pop, some of the most popular groups and solo acts raked in multimillions with their world tours.
David Bowie’s Glass Spider Tour: $86 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $198 million
David Bowie went on a world tour in 1987 called “The Glass Spider Tour.” It was to promote his album “Never Let Me Down.” It began in May 1987, and Bowie went on a two-week press tour to get people excited about the album. He visited nine countries in Europe and North America. The Glass Spider Tour marked Bowie’s first visit to Austria, Italy, Spain, Ireland and Wales.
With the help of Pepsi, the tour was also supposed to go to Russia and South America, but those plans were later scrapped. By this time, Bowie’s tour was the longest and most expensive he had ever undertaken. The tour’s elaborate set was described at the time as “the largest touring set ever.”
Justin Timberlake’s FutureSex/LoveShow Tour: $127.8 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $160 million
American singer and songwriter Justin Timberlake embarked on his third concert tour, the FutureSex/LoveShow. During it, he introduced FutureSex/LoveSounds, his second studio album (2006). The tour brought in $127.8 million in revenue. This made it the third most expensive of all concert tours in 2007.
Fans who bought a limited number of tickets could visit the SexyBack Dance Club, a bar/club area around the stage. There were two types of tickets: those where you could sit and those where you could stand. Fans with seating tickets could go to this area and sit on a seat built into the stage. With the standing tickets, you could get into the same area, but you couldn’t sit down.
Genesis’ Turn It on Again World Tour: $129 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $162.7 million
Genesis’ 2007 concert tour Turn It On Again: The Tour toured Europe and North America. The tour was notable for the return of drummer and vocalist Phil Collins, who had fronted the band during their most successful period before leaving in 1993. Collins joined fellow founding members Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford, as well as on-stage musicians Chester Thompson on drums and Daryl Stuermer on guitar/bass.
Celine Dion’s Let’s Talk About Love Tour: $133 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $208.8 million
The Let’s Talk About Love World Tour is the eighth concert tour by Canadian singer-songwriter Celine Dion. The tour made stops in North America, Asia and Europe. It was in support of Let’s Talk About Love, Dion’s fifth English studio album, and S’il suffisait d’aimer, her eleventh French studio album.
This will be Dion’s last world tour until her Taking Chances World Tour in 2008 and 2009. The tour was supposed to end in 1998, but continued well into 1999. The tour’s concerts in North America alone grossed nearly $30 million in 1998. When tickets first went on sale in Japan, they sold out immediately.
The tour also won “Major Tour of the Year” and “Most Creative Stage Production” at the Pollstar Industry Awards. According to CelineDionCharts.com, Celine Dion’s Let’s Talk About Love Tour took her to 11 different countries and she grossed $133 million.
Bon Jovi’s Lost Highway Tour: $210 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $255.1 million
American rock band Bon Jovi went on the Lost Highway Tour to promote their 10th studio album, Lost Highway. They played concerts all over the world. The tour lasted from October 2007 to July 2008. Originally, the 2008 tour was supposed to be a greatest hits tour. However, after Lost Highway became a worldwide hit and hit #1 in several countries when it was released in June 2007, the tour was changed to promote the album.
Immediately after the album’s release, the band played a series of summer concerts in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, the United Kingdom, and Japan to promote the album. In October 2007, there were ten concerts for the opening of the Prudential Center in New Jersey. In 2008 there were tours of Japan, Australasia, the United States and Europe. As part of this tour, Bon Jovi also played their first concert in New Zealand in 12 years.
The Lost Highway Tour is a finalist for the 2008 Billboard Touring Awards in the categories of Top Tour, Top Draw and Top Manager.
The Eagles’ Hell Freezes Over Tour: $253 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $434.3 million
Hip-hop power couple Beyoncé and Jay-Z embarked on their On the Run II Tour in June 2018 in Cardiff, Wales, and performed a total of 48 stadium dates; the tour concluded in Seattle the following month. The tour ended with a gross of $253.5 million, according to Billboard.
Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s On the Run II Tour: $253.5 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $264.1 million
The On the Run II Tour was the second stadium tour Beyoncé and Jay-Z have done together. The tour was officially announced on March 12, 2018, and began on June 6, 2018, in Cardiff. It ended in Seattle on October 4, 2018. This is the first time the two have toured together since 2014’s “On the Run Tour.”
Billboard said the tour could double as much money as the “On the Run Tour.” If the success of the first tour is repeated, it could bring in between $180 million and $200 million, it said.
After the first day of general sales, additional shows were added in Paris, Landover, East Rutherford, Chicago, Atlanta, Houston, Pasadena and London. The first show in Amsterdam sold out within an hour, so an additional show was scheduled there as well. On March 20, it was also announced that there would be new shows in Columbus, Columbia, Seattle and London.
The On the Run II tour was the third most successful tour of the year, according to Billboard. It sold more than 2,177,049 tickets and grossed more than $253 million.
One Direction’s Where We Are Tour: $282.2 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $311.8 million
The Where We Are Tour was the third headlining concert tour by English-Irish boy band One Direction in support of their third studio album, Midnight Memories (2013). It was the group’s first tour to be held exclusively in stadiums, with an average crowd of 49,848. The tour began on April 25, 2014 in Bogotá, Colombia, and ended on October 5, 2014 in Miami, Florida. Australian pop-rock band 5 Seconds of Summer served as the opening act for the European and North American dates.
The tour was the highest-grossing tour of 2014 and the highest-grossing tour by a vocal group ever. With 3,439,560 fans and revenues of $290,178,452, it is One Direction’s best-attended and highest-grossing tour to date.
The Rolling Stones’ Voodoo Lounge Tour: $300 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $514.9 million
Rolling Stones’ Voodoo Lounge Tour was a concert tour in support of their 1994 album Voodoo Lounge. Their first tour without bassist Bill Wyman and their first with touring bassist Darryl Jones as an additional musician. The tour grossed more than $300 million, surpassing Pink Floyd’s The Division Bell Tour as the highest grossing tour at the time. It was later overtaken by several other tours, but remains the Rolling Stones’ second highest-grossing tour behind their 2005-2007 A Bigger Bang Tour.
“There were a lot of hacks out there who said we couldn’t do this anymore,” Mick Jagger noted. “But maybe they meant they couldn’t do it anymore. Anyway, when we started playing, it all died down. You can talk about it and talk about it – but once we’re on stage, the question is answered.”
Production design is by Mark Fisher, Charlie Watts, Mick Jagger and Patrick Woodroffe. Graphic design and video animation are by Mark Norton. Total attendance: 6.5 million.
The Rolling Stones’ Licks Tour: $311 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $442.1 million
The Rolling Stones went on a world tour called “The Licks Tour” in 2002 and 2003 to promote their 40th anniversary album, Forty Licks. The tour grossed more than $300 million, making it the second highest-grossing tour at the time after the 1994-1995 Voodoo Lounge Tour.
The schedule continued the Rolling Stones’ tradition of playing a mix of theaters, arenas and stadiums. Although there was not much new music to promote, the set lists were constantly changing and included a total of 80 different songs.
Due to the outbreak of SARS in 2002and 2003, the dates in East Asia and the last date of the tour had to be changed. Toronto in the Canadian province of Ontario was also affected by the disease, so the Rolling Stones gave the “Molson Canadian Rocks for Toronto” concert on July 30, 2003 to help the city recover from the effects of the disease. It is estimated that about 490,000 people attended the concert.
U2’s Joshua Tree Tour (2017): $316 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $337.2 million
The Joshua Tree Tour 2017 and The Joshua Tree Tour 2019 were world tours by rock band U2 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their 1987 album The Joshua Tree. The 2017 tour toured stadiums on four different legs: May to July and September in North America, July to August in Europe and October in Latin America.
In November and December 2019, the tour went to Oceania and Asia. It was the first time the band played in South Korea, Singapore, the Philippines and India. At the concerts, the band played the entire album Joshua Tree.
It was the first time they played “Red Hill Mining Town” live. It was the first time the band toured to promote an old album instead of releasing a new one. In June 2017, U2 was the main act at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tennessee. This was part of their tour.
Taylor Swift’s Reputation Stadium Tour: $345.7 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $360.1 million
Taylor Swift’s Reputation Stadium Tour was her fifth concert tour. It was in support of her sixth studio album, Reputation (2017). The 53-concert stadium tour began on May 8, 2018, in Glendale and ended on November 21, 2018, in Tokyo.
The tour was attended by 2.88 million people and grossed $345.7 million. It was Swift’s most successful tour to date and broke many records, such as the third highest-grossing female concert tour of all time and the highest-grossing tour of all time in the United States and North America.
Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band’s Wrecking Ball Tour: $355.6 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $399.3 million
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band went on the Wrecking Ball World Tour to promote his 17th studio album, Wrecking Ball, released March 5, 2012. It was the first tour of the E Street Band since Clarence Clemons, a founding member who died on June 18, 2011, left the group.
The album was accompanied by a world tour that ended in September 2013 and visited 26 countries – the most countries Springsteen has ever visited on tour. In January 2014 the tour resumed, but this time to promote his new album High Hopes, which is why it bore the name of the album.
The tour won the Billboard Touring Award for Best Performance and was named the second highest-grossing tour of 2012. The tour was one of the three highest-grossing tours of the first half of 2013.
At the end of 2012, the tour grossed $210.2 million from 81 shows in Europe and ranked second on Pollstar’s “Top 100 Worldwide Tours” list. At the end of 2013, the tour grossed $145.4 million from 46 shows in Europe and ranked fifth on Pollstar’s list of “Top 100 Worldwide Tours.” In total, the tour’s 124 shows grossed $340.6 million.
The Police’s Reunion Tour: $362 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $439.8 million
The Reunion Tour was a 2007–2008 worldwide concert tour by The Police to celebrate their 30th anniversary. The tour ended with revenues exceeding $360 million, making it the third (now sixteenth) highest-grossing tour of all time. With overwhelmingly positive reviews from fans and critics alike, the tour began in May 2007 and ended in August 2008 at Madison Square Garden.
Garth Brooks’ Garth Brooks World Tour With Trisha Yearwood: $364 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $388.4 million
The Garth Brooks North American Tour is a concert tour by Trisha Yearwood and American singer Garth Brooks. Brooks’ first tour since returning from retirement begins September 4, 2014 in Rosemont, Illinois. It began to promote his 2014 album Man Against Machine and continued until the release of his 2016 album Gunslinger.
Due to high demand, there are now more concerts in each city, with Brooks sometimes doing two shows a night. When the eighth leg of the 2017 tour ended, he had done a total of 390 shows. That was more than any other tour in history. It’s also the country music tour that brought in the most money. It brought in more money than Tim McGraw and Faith Hill’s Soul2Soul: The World Tour.
Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic Tour: $367 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $382.3 million
The 24K Magic World Tour was the fourth concert tour by American singer-songwriter Bruno Mars, held in support of his third studio album 24K Magic (2016) from March 2017 to December 2018.
Mars’ stage showmanship and guitar solos, along with the stage production, were praised by music critics during his 24K Magic World Tour. A diverse audience of all ages attended the 24K Magic World Tour, making it a commercial success and one of the highest-grossing concerts of all time. It was honoured with two Pollstar Awards, two Billboard Music Awards and a TEC Award.
U2’s Vertigo Tour: $389 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $504.7 million
Irish rock band U2 toured the world with their Vertigo Tour. The tour, which lasted from March 2005 to December 2006, served to promote the 2004 album How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. The five legs of the Vertigo tour included indoor performances in North America as well as outdoor stadium appearances in other parts of the world. The indoor portion of the Vertigo Tour, like the Elevation Tour before it, had a simple, intimate stage set. A small group of fans stood on an elliptical catwalk that jutted out from the main stage.
In 2005, the tour grossed $260 million with 110 sold-out shows, making it the most successful tour of the year. In North America alone, where 1.4 million tickets were sold, the tour grossed $138.9 million.
The Vertigo Tour was named Top Tour, Top Draw and Top Single Event at the 2005 Billboard Roadwork Touring Awards, and U2’s management company Principle Management won the title of Top Manager. At the end of the Vertigo Tour, 4,619,021 tickets were sold for 131 shows. It grossed $389 million, making it the second highest-grossing tour.
Pink’s Beautiful Trauma World Tour: $397.3 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $406.5 million
Pink’s Beautiful Trauma World Tour was her seventh concert tour in support of her seventh studio album, Beautiful Trauma (2017). The tour began in Phoenix, Arizona on March 1, 2018, at the Talking Stick Resort Arena, and concluded in Austin, Texas on November 2, 2019, at the Circuit of the Americas.
Having earned $397.3 million and sold over 3 million tickets, it became the second highest-grossing solo female tour of all time and the tenth highest-grossing tour of all time.
Madonna’s Sticky & Sweet Tour: $408 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $497.5 million
Madonna’s Sticky & Sweet Tour was her eighth concert tour for her eleventh studio album, Hard Candy (2008). This was Madonna’s first major tour since signing a ten-year deal with Live Nation.
Music critics gave this album generally positive reviews, praising the production, the singer’s energy, and the performances. In addition to receiving positive reviews, the tour broke many records in terms of ticket sales, commercial revenue, and audience attendance. In 2008, it became the highest-grossing tour by a solo artist, earning US$282 million ($354.92 in 2021 dollars), breaking Madonna’s previous record of her Confessions Tour two years earlier.
A total of $411 million was reported as the final gross ($519.12 in 2021 dollars); it was the second highest-grossing tour at the time and remains the highest-grossing tour ever for a female artist. At the 2009 Billboard Touring Awards, Sticky & Sweet won Top Boxscore, Top Draw, and Top Manager for Guy Oseary.
The Rolling Stones’ No Filter Tour: $415.6 Million (So Far)
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $425.2 million
No Filter Tour was the Rolling Stones’ European/North American concert tour that began on 9 September 2017 in Hamburg, Germany. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the tour was originally scheduled to end in 2020. In September 2021, it resumed.
Following that announcement, the Stones announced that drummer Charlie Watts had undergone an unspecified medical procedure and would be unable to join the tour due to a lengthy recovery. In the end, Watts passed away on 24 August 2021. Longtime Stones associate Steve Jordan will fill in as drummer for the 2021 tour, the band announced on 5 August.
Metallica’s WorldWired Tour: $430 MIllion (So Far)
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $440 million
On October 26, 2016, the tour began in Puerto Rico, followed by four more dates in Latin America.
The tour also included a performance at the 59th Grammy Awards on February 12, 2017.
The WorldWired Tour earned another $67.3 million from 37 shows in 2018, 24 in Europe and 13 in North America. After three years and 139 concerts, the tour has grossed $426.9 million, making it the ninth highest-grossing tour in history.
AC/DC’s Black Ice Tour: $441 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $529 million
By the end of the tour, the group had played 160 shows to about 4.9 million people. The tour ranked third among history’s most successful tours, behind The Rolling Stones’ A Bigger Bang Tour, which earned $558.3 million in the mid-2000s, and U2’s 360° Tour, which earned $736.1 million in 2011. After Roger Waters’ The Wall Live tour ended in 2013, it dropped to fourth place.
Roger Waters’ The Wall Live Tour: $460 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $516.5 million
The Wall Live was a worldwide tour by Roger Waters, formerly of Pink Floyd. The tour marked the first time the Pink Floyd album The Wall had been performed by the band or any of its former members since Waters performed the album live in Berlin 21 July 1990. From 56 concerts, the first leg of the tour grossed over $89.5 million in North America.
In 2010, it was the second-highest-grossing concert tour in North America, and in 2013, it was the third-highest-grossing concert tour worldwide. In 2013, the tour was the highest grossing tour for a solo musician, surpassing Madonna (the record was later eclipsed by Ed Sheeran). The tour is currently the 6th highest grossing of all time.
Coldplay’s A Head Full of Dreams Tour: $523 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $558.1 million
With 122 performances across eight legs, the tour included Latin America, where they performed for the first time since the Viva la Vida Tour, Europe, North America, where they embarked on their first stadium tour, Oceania, and Asia.
The first show of the tour was held at the Estadio Ciudad de La Plata in La Plata, Argentina, on 31 March 2016 and the finale was held at the same location on 15 November 2017.
Currently ranked sixth in the history of concerts, the tour has grossed $523,033,675. A live album, Live in Buenos Aires, covering the tour, was released in November 2018, as well as the concert film, Live in So Paulo, filmed around the world.
The Rolling Stones’ A Bigger Bang Tour: $558 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $704 million
Between August 2005 and August 2007, the Rolling Stones performed a worldwide concert tour in support of their album A Bigger Bang. It was the highest grossing tour of all time, earning $558,255,524 at the time. As of 2019, it has been surpassed by U2’s 2009 to 2011 U2 360 Tour, placing second.
Guns N’ Roses’ Not in This Lifetime… Tour: $584.2 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $597.7 million
The Not in This Lifetime… Tour was a concert tour by hard rock band Guns N’ Roses, spanning from April 1, 2016, to November 2, 2019. The tour featured classic lineup members Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan for the first time since the Use Your Illusion Tour in 1993.
Having grossed over $584.2 million, the tour is the third-highest-grossing concert tour of all time. In 2016, the tour was the fourth-highest-grossing global concert tour as well as the highest-earning per-city tour. In 2017, the tour was the second-highest grossing worldwide tour. At the Billboard Live Music Awards in November 2017, the tour won Top Tour/Top Draw and was nominated for Top Boxscore.
U2’s U2 360 Degrees Tour: $736.4 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $856.4 million
The U2 360° Tour was a concert tour by the rock band U2. In support of the group’s 2009 album No Line on the Horizon, the tour visited stadiums from 2009 to 2011. The band performed “in the round” on a circular stage, allowing the audience to surround them on all sides.
Critics and fans generally praised the tour. In the end, U2 360° had broken records for the highest-grossing concert tour with $736 million in ticket sales, as well as the highest-attended tour with over 7.2 million tickets sold.
Ed Sheeran’s Divide Tour: $775.6 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $793.6 million
The ÷ Tour (pronounced “Divide Tour”) was a world concert tour by English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran in support of his third studio album, ÷ (2017) (pronounced “divide”). A total of 260 shows were staged between 16 March 2017 in Turin, Italy, and 26 August 2019 in Ipswich, England. Tickets went on sale on February 2, 2017. This tour set records for the most tickets sold by a concert tour and the highest grossing concert tour of all time.
From 16 March 2017 to 31 October 2018, Sheeran’s tour grossed $551.8 million and sold 6,209,122 tickets across 201 dates, according to Billboard. The tour was the eighth highest-grossing tour of 2017, collecting $122 million and selling 1,408,681 tickets. With $429 million, the Divide Tour became 2018’s highest-grossing tour, setting all-time records for the highest-grossing solo tour and the highest year-end gross.