Metallica crowned “biggest all-time touring band” with $1.4 billion in tickets sold

According to a new study from Pollstar, the metal icons are the undisputed champions of live music

Metallica biggest touring band of all time
Metallica, photo by Raymond Ahner

    Metallica just might be the “biggest all-time touring band,” at least according to a new breakdown by industry-leading concert trade publication Pollstar.

    A feature on the Pollstar website, titled “Tour & Destroy: The Case for Metallica as the World’s Biggest Touring Act”, makes a strong argument for the thrash legends as the top dog among touring artists, using statistics and other metrics to back up the claim.

    Pollstar utilizes stats that date back to Metallica’s beginnings, asserting that the metal icons have sold 22.1 million tickets and have grossed $1.4 billion on tour since 1982. Those numbers put Metallica ahead of such acts as Guns N’ Roses, AC/DC, and other big-time bands.


    And while the all-time ticket total is actually second to U2, Pollstar argues that other factors propel Metallica to the top of the heap. Among those considerations is the fact that Metallica has performed in 48 countries and all seven continents, including Antarctica. Furthermore, the metal band is a leader in merch sales, having sold $125 million worth of t-shirts and other concert memorabilia in North America since The Black Album was released in 1991.

    Metallica show no signs of slowing down, either, as their current “WorldWired Tour” has grossed $430 million on sales of 4.1 million tickets, including the band’s recent “S&M2” concerts in San Francisco.

    Pollstar caught up with Lars Ulrich for the feature, and the Metallica drummer explained that the success has to do with the band’s constant push to outdo its past.

    (Buy: Tickets to Metallica’s Upcoming Shows)


    “I keep thinking and forcing myself to think all our best years are still ahead of us,” said Ulrich. “It’s always, ‘What’s your favorite record?’ It’s the next one, the one we haven’t recorded yet.”

    He added, “It’s always about the possibilities, always about what can be, what’s coming. That, to me, is what this is all about and I think that attitude is a big part of why Metallica still connects to so many people around the world.”

    Of course, all of this isn’t without controversy. It was recently revealed that associates of Metallica struck a deal with Live Nation to place tickets directly on the resale market in order to maximize profits.


    Metallica’s “WorldWired Tour” will continue to gross additional millions as the band is set to hit Australia and New Zealand with Slipknot this fall, as well as South America with Greta Van Fleet in the spring. Tickets are available here.