Metallica had at least two things to celebrate in 2009: its induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the release of “Guitar Hero: Metallica.” Along with touring revenue — the band pulled in $22.8 million from 55 arena shows reported to Boxscore that drew more than 968,000 fans — Metallica sold 694,000 albums in 2009. The majority of those sales came from its Rick Rubin-produced 2008 release, “Death Magnetic” (297,000). Album sales revenue totaled $1.6 million. And most of Metallica’s track download earnings came from its 1991 hit “Enter Sandman,” which sold 450,000.
As one of the elite touring artists in the world, Kenny Chesney has sold more than 1 million tickets for seven consecutive years. In country music, the big ticket sellers also sit atop radio and retail charts, and Chesney is no exception, with physical album sales in the United States running roughly the same as tickets sold. His digital track numbers are also among the highest on this list, and the country star rang up more than half a million ringtones in 2009.
Coldplay didn’t let a copyright infringement lawsuit filed by guitarist Joe Satriani dampen its spirits last year. Despite the legal turmoil (the two parties settled in September and the allegations were dismissed), the band earned $24.7 million touring behind its 2008 album, “Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends,” which sold 495,000 copies in 2009. Overall, the group sold 852,000 albums in 2009, bringing in $1 million in revenue.
The Jonas Brothers released their fourth studio album, “Lines, Vines and Trying Times” (Hollywood) June 15, debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and setting up the boy band for another fruitful year of album sales and touring. The act racked up almost $1.3 million in CD royalties. The band’s world tour netted them $31.4 million and won the group the Eventful Fans’ Choice Award at the 2009 Billboard Touring Awards.
Even before she lofted herself onto a trapeze at the MTV Video Music Awards, Pink was already having the best year of her career. She officially shook her underdog status in 2008 with the release of “Funhouse,” but 2009 vaulted her to new heights thanks in part to an international arena tour, which netted her $35 million. Moreover, Pink’s show-stopping 2010 Grammy Awards performance of “Glitter in the Air” — and the track’s subsequent 1,143% digital sales increase — means that her funhouse is still open for business.
It seemed unlikely that Britney Spears could ever recover professionally from a series of bizarre events that led up to her 2008 “Circus” CD. But the album bowed atop the Billboard 200 in December of that year, and the pop star’s success continued into 2009 with an arena tour that earned her $36.4 million and album sales that totaled 763,000 copies. Digitally, Spears sold 7.5 million downloads; the largest seller was the racy Max Martin-produced single, “3,” which moved 1.6 million downloads.
Although the overwhelming majority of AC/DC’s 2009 earnings came from touring international arenas and stadiums (it pulled in $41.4 million from concerts and ranked No. 4 on Billboard’s 2009 tally of the top 25 highest-grossing tours), the Australian rockers also experienced consistent album sales from their catalog. Indeed, the group’s highest-selling album was its 2008 Walmart exclusive, “Black Ice,” which shifted 227,000 copies. But coming in at a close second was the classic “Back in Black,” with 215,000 copies. In total, the group sold 1.1 million albums in 2009.
Like U2, Madonna toured for the first time under a long-term multirights Live Nation deal (hers valued at $120 million), and also like U2 it’s a performance-based pact. Madonna delivered: Her Sticky & Sweet tour tacked on a “victory lap” run of international stadium dates that solidified the trek as the highest-grossing tour ever by a solo artist. Madonna’s CD sales were well off the pace of her peak hitmaking years, but still more than respectable at physical and digital. Because her songs come from a wide range of writers, the publishing pie is pretty well-sliced. But her branding, licensing and merch efforts are among the most diversified and lucrative in the music business.
With a new studio album, a Walmart-exclusive hits compilation and a relentless touring schedule, Bruce Springsteen was at the top of his revenue-generating game in 2009. Springsteen’s profile has never been higher, with added-value exposure from the Super Bowl halftime show, Kennedy Center Honors and even a run-in with Ticketmaster all keeping the Boss in the public eye. Springsteen was also a force at retail and on the digital sales front, with more than 2 million tracks downloaded. And since he writes all his own songs, publishing revenue stays at Camp Bruce. Remarkably, Springsteen Inc. is peaking more than 35 years after his debut album.
Midway through what is destined to be the highest-grossing tour in history, U2 remains the biggest band in the world. Its 360° tour is the group’s first under a 12-year multirights deal with Live Nation that includes worldwide touring, merchandising and the band’s lucrative U2.com Web site, a digital distribution gold mine for all things U2. The act’s current global stadium tour is the most expensive ever mounted — the daily nut is said to be $750,000 — but those costs are well offset by the highest capacities ever from the band’s 360-degree configuration. By even the most conservative estimates, U2 was far and away the top revenue generator in music last year.