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.
Last updated: Oct. 21, 2021
David Bowie’s Glass Spider Tour: $86 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $198 million
Although David Bowie’s Glass Spider Tour was poorly received at the time — it spanned from May to November in 1987 — it was one of the highest-grossing tours when adjusted to today’s dollars. The centerpiece of the tour set was a giant spider that required 43 trucks to transport it between stops, IQ reported.
Justin Timberlake’s FutureSex/LoveShow Tour: $126.8 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $160 million
Justin Timberlake’s FutureSex/LoveShow Tour grossed $126.8 million and was attended by more than 1.6 million people worldwide, Billboard reported. The tour kicked off in January 2007 in San Diego and featured Pink — who had a high-grossing tour of her own — as a special guest.
Genesis’ Turn It on Again World Tour: $129 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $162.7 million
Phil Collins, Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford reunited in June 2007 to tour around the world as Genesis. The Turn It on Again Tour grossed in excess of $129 million over 46 performances, Ultimate Classic Rock reported. The group announced on March 4 that they would be reuniting again for a 2020 tour.
Celine Dion’s Let’s Talk About Love Tour: $133 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $208.8 million
Celine Dion’s Let’s Talk About Love Tour took the Canadian crooner to 11 different countries across 97 shows and grossed $133 million, according to CelineDionCharts.com. The tour kicked off in Boston in August 1998 to promote Dion’s album of the same name. The 1997 album featured the immensely popular hit single “My Heart Will Go On.”
Bon Jovi’s Lost Highway Tour: $210 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $255.1 million
Bon Jovi’s Lost Highway Tour was the highest-grossing tour of 2008, Reuters reported. The world tour started in October 2007 with 10 sold-out shows in the band’s home state of New Jersey and continued into 2008 with stops in Canada, Japan, New Zealand, England, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, Holland and Austria, according to an AEG Live press release.
The Eagles’ Hell Freezes Over Tour: $253 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $434.3 million
After performing together in 1980 in what they assumed would be their last show, The Eagles’ Don Henley said that the band would perform together again “when hell freezes over.” Fourteen years later, the band reunited and in a nod to Henley’s comment, recorded the live album “Hell Freezes Over” and embarked on a corresponding tour, originally planned as a six-week trek, Pollstar reported. The tour ended up lasting for two years — from July 2013 to 2015 — and grossed $253 million, with over 2 million tickets sold across 147 shows.
Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s On the Run II Tour: $253.5 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $264.1 million
Hip-hop power couple Beyoncé and Jay-Z kicked off their joint On the Run II Tour in June 2018 in Cardiff, Wales, and performed a total of 48 stadium dates; the tour ended in October 2018 in Seattle. By the end of the tour, it had grossed $253.5 million, Billboard reported.
One Direction’s Where We Are Tour: $282.2 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $311.8 million
One Direction’s Where We Are Tour became the first tour to break the $200 million ticket sales barrier in 2014, Billboard reported. It went on to be the highest-grossing tour of the year with a gross of $282.2 million, which was 6 1/2 times more than what One Direction’s previous year tour had grossed, the New York Post reported. The tour kicked off in April 2014, and the band was joined by 5 Seconds of Summer during the North American dates.
The Rolling Stones’ Voodoo Lounge Tour: $300 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $514.9 million
When the Rolling Stones’ Voodoo Lounge Tour wrapped, it was the most successful in North American history, Rolling Stone reported. The tour — which started in August 1994 in support of the band’s album of the same name — included 117 dates on six continents, and it grossed $300 million from a combination of ticket sales, T-shirts and television rights.
The Rolling Stones’ Licks Tour: $311 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $442.1 million
The Rolling Stones topped their own concert gross record with their 2002-2003 Licks Tour, which grossed $311 million, according to Billboard. The tour kicked off in September 2002 and boasted an impressive roster of supporting acts that included No Doubt, The Strokes, Jonny Lang, Sheryl Crow and The Pretenders.
U2’s Joshua Tree Tour (2017): $316 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $337.2 million
U2 embarked on the Joshua Tree Tour in 2017 in honor of the 30th anniversary of their No. 1 album of the same name. The tour included 50 shows in over a dozen countries, kicking off in May 2017 and wrapping up in October 2017. The tour sold more than 2.7 million tickets and grossed $316 million, Billboard reported.
Taylor Swift’s Reputation Stadium Tour: $345.7 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $360.1 million
Taylor Swift’s Reputation Stadium Tour broke records when it became the highest-grossing U.S. tour of all time in November 2018, with a gross of $266.1 million and over 2 million tickets sold domestically, Billboard reported. The tour — which spanned from May to November 2018 — grossed $345.7 million in total.
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’s Wrecking Ball World Tour reached fans in more countries than any previous Springsteen tour, Shore Fire Media reported. It started in March 2012 in New York City and included 133 shows in 26 countries across North America, South America, Europe and Australia. The tour ended in September 2013 in Brazil.
The Police’s Reunion Tour: $362 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $439.8 million
The Police reunited for a 2007-2008 tour that spanned 151 shows and earned the band a $362 million gross, Rolling Stone reported. Their May 28, 2007, performance in Vancouver, Canada, was the first time they played together in 23 years, NME reported — and their final show in New York in August 2008 marked the last time The Police ever played together.
Garth Brooks’ Garth Brooks World Tour With Trisha Yearwood: $364 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $388.4 million
Garth Brooks had been semi-retired for 14 years when he launched his world tour with his wife and fellow country superstar Trisha Yearwood in 2014. He opened his tour in Chicago in June of that year, and it stretched into 2017, with 390 shows played and 6.4 million tickets sold, USA Today reported.
Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic Tour: $367 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $382.3 million
In support of his 2016 Grammy-winning album “24K Magic,” Bruno Mars embarked on a 200-date world tour that started in March 2017 and ended in November 2018. The tour grossed more than $367 million, Pollstar reported.
U2’s Vertigo Tour: $389 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $504.7 million
U2 embarked on the Vertigo Tour in March 2005 with a U.S. leg. Throughout the year, the band toured in Europe and North America and wrapped the tour with a fourth leg in 2006 that took them around the world. This is one of three U2 tours that have the distinction of being one of the highest-grossing concert tours of all time.
Pink’s Beautiful Trauma World Tour: $397.3 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $406.5 million
Pink’s March 2018 to November 2019 tour made history as the highest-grossing tour for a woman in over a decade, Billboard reported.
Madonna’s Sticky & Sweet Tour: $408 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $497.5 million
Madonna’s Sticky & Sweet Tour spanned three continents and ran from August 2008 to September 2009. At the time the show wrapped, it was the top-grossing tour by a solo artist of all time, Billboard reported.
The Rolling Stones’ No Filter Tour: $415.6 Million (So Far)
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $425.2 million
The Rolling Stones kicked off their No Filter Tour in September 2017 in Europe. The second leg of the tour, which took place in the summer of 2018, included dates throughout the U.K., Ireland and Europe. The third leg of the tour took the legendary rock band throughout North America during the summer of 2019. By the end of this leg, the band had grossed $415.6 million, Billboard reported. But the tour isn’t over, so millions more will most certainly roll in. The fourth leg of the tour — which will take place in North America — was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Metallica’s WorldWired Tour: $430 MIllion (So Far)
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $440 million
Metallica kicked off its WorldWired Tour in October 2016 in support of their album “Hardwired…To Self-Destruct.” The tour was slated to continue into 2020, but came to a halt due to COVID-19, as the band was forced to cancel or reschedule all performances. The tour had grossed $430 million as of September 2019, Consequence of Sound reported.
AC/DC’s Black Ice Tour: $441 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $529 million
AC/DC’s Black Ice World Tour followed the band’s album of the same name and was the group’s biggest tour ever with 169 dates and over 5 million attendees, AC-DC.net reported. The tour kicked off in October 2008 in the U.S. and ended in June 2010 in Spain.
Roger Waters’ The Wall Live Tour: $460 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $516.5 million
Pink Floyd fans flocked in droves to Roger Waters’ The Wall Live Tour, which ran from September 2010 to September 2013. The tour marked the first time the 1979 album of the same name had been performed live in its entirety by the band or any of its former members in two decades, Pollstar reported. The Wall Live Tour grossed $460 million across 220 performances, with 4.1 million tickets sold.
Coldplay’s A Head Full of Dreams Tour: $523 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $558.1 million
Shortly after Coldplay performed at the Super Bowl 50 Halftime show, the band kicked off their A Head Full of Dreams Tour in March 2016. The tour, which wrapped in November 2017, included 114 shows in 76 cities and 31 countries. At the time the tour ended, it was the third-highest-grossing global tour of all time with $523 million in ticket sales, Live Nation reported.
The Rolling Stones’ A Bigger Bang Tour: $558 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $704 million
It remains to be seen if The Stones’ No Filter Tour can beat the band’s high-grossing A Bigger Bang World Tour, which kicked off in August 2005 and ended two years later. Mick Jagger and the rest of the band held the distinction of having the highest-grossing tour of all time until U2 took over that title in 2011.
Guns N’ Roses’ Not in This Lifetime… Tour: $584.2 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $597.7 million
Guns N’ Roses’ Not in This Lifetime… Tour lasted over three years and included 158 concert dates across six continents. It grossed $584.2 million with nearly 5.4 million tickets sold, Billboard reported. The tour — which kicked off in April 2016 and was extended through November 2019 — featured a reunion of classic-era members Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan.
U2’s U2 360 Degrees Tour: $736.4 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $856.4 million
U2’s U2 360 Degrees Tour had three legs that spanned from June 2009 to July 2011. Guests on the epic tour included Lenny Kravitz, Muse and Arcade Fire. When the tour wrapped, it had broken records to become the highest-grossing tour of all time — and held that title until it was dethroned in 2019. However, when adjusted for inflation, it still holds the top title.
Ed Sheeran’s Divide Tour: $775.6 Million
- Gross adjusted for inflation: $793.6 million
Ed Sheeran holds the record for the highest-grossing concert tour of all time. His Divide Tour started in March 2017 and ended in August 2019, and took him around the world, with 246 shows across Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, North America and South America. The concert sold over 8.5 million tickets, Billboard reported.
- 5 Things Most Americans Don’t Know About Social Security
- 10 Reasons You Should Claim Social Security Early
- How To Use a Credit Card Like a Pro This Holiday Season
- When Social Security Runs Out: What the Program Will Look Like in 2035
Laura Woods contributed to the reporting for this article.
All data was calculated using the last year of each tour, for those still ongoing, GOBankingRates calculated figures from 2019. All inflation data was calculated using a CPI inflation calculator. All data was collected and is up to date as of March 8, 2021.