The report, commissioned and published to commemorate Pollstar's 40th anniversary, states that the band formed by James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich in Los Angeles in 1981 have sold a staggering 19,468,173 tickets across the last 40 years: these statistics factor in only stand-alone headline shows, and not the scores of festivals which the metal superstars have headlined since becoming a stadium-filling act with 1991's 'Black Album'.
Since Pollstar was launched as the live industry's most trusted resource, only five artists have shifted more gig tickets than Metallica: U2, the Dave Matthews Band, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, and Elton John, in that order.
The report also ranked artists in terms of box-office grosses, a chart topped by The Rolling Stones, who've raked in $2,165,280,638 across the past 40 years, having sold 22,137,799 tickets. Metallica are ranked at number 9 in this listing, having grossed $1,219,599,179, more than Paul McCartney, in 10th place ($1,193,812,645) but less than Bon Jovi, Madonna and Celine Dion, among others.
Guns N' Roses are ranked at number 23 in this list (grossing $751,306,152 from 8,470,755 ticket sales), AC/DC are at number 27 (grossing $668,427,967 from 11,512,424 ticket sales) and Iron Maiden are at number 44 ($475,817,777 gross, 9,187,132 tickets sold), two places behind NWOBHM peers Def Leppard ($514,231,844 gross from 11,321,650 ticket sales).
Pollstar's full, fascinating report can be viewed here.