Despite the fact that streaming services helped the music industry stop the decade-long decline and return to growth in recent years, live concerts remain the bread and butter for many artists. While playing concerts is particularly important for lesser-known musicians in order to make ends meet, some of the world’s biggest artists also make the lion’s share of their income by playing live in front of millions of people around the world.
According to concert tracking website Pollstar, the top 100 tours worldwide generated more than $5.5 billion in ticket revenue last year, up from just $3.2 billion in 2010. Over the past decade, artists like U2 and Ed Sheeran played record-breaking world tours, selling millions of tickets and generating hundreds of millions in ticket sales.
As the following chart shows, U2 even managed to crack the billion-dollar milestone over the past decade, selling 9.3 million tickets for 255 shows in 141 cities. With box office earnings of $929 and $922 million, respectively, The Rolling Stones and Ed Sheeran complete the top 3 in Pollstar’s ranking of the highest-grossing artists.