While it goes without saying that Metallica are one of the biggest touring rock and metal bands, but stats show they actually hold the title for the single biggest touring band in the world, across all genres.
According to Pollstar, since 1982, Metallica have sold 22.1 million tickets, grossing $1.4 billion USD along the way. That's considerably higher than other legendary rock and metal artists like AC/DC and Ozzy Osbourne, who've sold 14.3 million and 10 million respectively. Ozzy's number hikes up to 13.2 million if you add in Black Sabbath's total too.
Money wise, Metallica's earning figure towers over the impressive nearly $800 million brought in by Guns N' Roses.
U2 have sold more tickets than Metallica, but U2 having started 5 years earlier than Metallica means the latter so it's still argued that the thrashers have done better over the years they've been active.
Drummer Lars Ulrich told Pollstar, "I keep thinking and forcing myself to think all our best years are still ahead of us. We may even turn professional and do this full time one day. That’s the MO. It’s always, 'What’s your favorite record?'. It’s the next one, the one we haven’t recorded yet. 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 the why Metallica still connects to so many people around the world."
The report by Pollstar also points out that Metallica haven't relied on nostalgic tours, gimmicks or farewells that tend to drive fans to shows in today's concert climate - instead they are still growing as they continue their 'WorldWired' tour supporting their 2016 record, Hardwired... To Self-Destruct.
“How did that happen? The natural order of things is you have your peak, it’s hard to match it, you decline, somebody else comes and takes the crown away and that's just the way it’s been in music forever," said Q Prime Management head Cliff Bernstein, who has been with Metallica since 1984.
"How interesting is it that Metallica, taking that 1991 as a starting point even though that was their fifth album, here we are 28 years later and the band is huge. Nobody has eclipsed Metallica," he continued.
Bernstein noted that Metallica could "tour off the first five albums forever," but wondered aloud if this would lead to a decline in fan interest and that the band may not be as "engaged" if they didn't have new material to keep them looking forward.
"These guys are highly creatively motivated. Hardwired will not be their last album by any means. Albums may come at great intervals, but they’re always thinking about new material."
Dennis Arfa, an agent at Artist Group International, feels Metallica can rightfully lay claim being the "biggest band in the world."
"Not only are they a stadium attraction, but they sell out in secondary and tertiary markets where you wouldn’t see many artists playing at all. The fact they can do the type of business they do all over the world – the two biggest apparel pieces in the world are a Yankees hat and a Metallica T-shirt. This isn’t a 10-year phenomenon, this is a stadium band since the mid-’90s and they have continued to win on the biggest levels, with $6 million-plus grosses," Arfa said.