Ed Sheeran played for nearly 51,000 fans at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Nov. 9., 2018. Photo: Ryan Fleisher/Special to the AJC

Whose tours made the most money in 2018? Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, we’re looking at you

It was a very good year if you were Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, Beyonce or Jay-Z.

The quartet steamrolled their peers on the road in 2018, collectively earning slightly more than $1 billion from worldwide ticket sales.

Sheeran, in particular, celebrated a massive year with a worldwide gross of $432.4 million from his “Divide” tour. According to Pollstar, the concert industry trade magazine that tallies the annual figures, Sheeran is the first act to top $400 million in one year (last year, U2 set the single-year gross record with $316 million from its “Joshua Tree” tour).

Consider also that Sheeran’s overhead is comparatively low – no band members to share the pot and a production, that while snazzy, wasn’t an elaborate ordeal, such as Swift’s “Reputation” outing and Beyonce and Jay-Z’s “On the Run II” creation.

Taylor Swift captivated the crowd at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Aug. 10 at the first of her two Atlanta concerts. The singer is touring behind her latest album, "Reputation." Photo: Robb Cohen Photography & Video /RobbsPhotos.com

The three tours played Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium and made a significant showing on the Top 200 concert grosses list.

Swift’s two shows this summer landed at No. 3 – following her trio of concerts at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey and Gillette Stadium in Massachusetts, respectively – with attendance of 116,745 and a gross of just over $18 million.

Jay-Z and Beyonce’s two MBS dates clocked in seventh – the only non-Swift shows in the Top 10 – with a two-show total of 105,170 tickets and just over $14 million. Sheeran, meanwhile, hit the list with a single-show attendance of 50,906 and a gross of $5.02 million.

Other Atlanta concerts among the Top 200 concert grosses are Drake’s three nights at State Farm Arena in November, which grossed $5.75 million with sales of 44,000 combined tickets and Kenny Chesney’s May outing at MBS with attendance of 51,312 and a gross of $5.06 million.

Here are some other highlights from Pollstar’s research, which is based on concerts between Nov. 23, 2017 and Nov. 21, 2018. Click here for the extensive list of concert and venue rankings.

Beyonce and Jay-Z perform during their the 'On The Run II' tour at Mercedes Benz Stadium on Aug. 25, 2018. The couple plays another show on Aug. 26.
Photo: Photo by Raven Varona/Parkwood/PictureGroup/Photo by Raven Varona/Parkwood/PictureGroup

North American tours

Taylor Swift – 2.16 million tickets, $277.3 million 

Jay-Z and Beyonce – 1.29 million tickets, $166.4 million

Eagles – 964,245 tickets, $166 million

Kenny Chesney – 1.29 million tickets, $114.4 million

Justin Timberlake – 791,780 tickets, $110 million

Ed Sheeran – 1.13 million tickets, $105 million

Journey/Def Leppard – 1 million, $97.8 million 

Pink – 688,588 tickets, $95.3 million

“Springsteen on Broadway” – 173,461 tickets, $88.3 million

Drake – 678,410 tickets, $79 million

Worldwide tours

Ed Sheeran – 4.86 million tickets, $432.4 million

Taylor Swift – 2.88 million tickets, $345.1 million

Jay-Z and Beyonce – 2.16 million, $254.1 million

Pink – 1.28 million tickets, $169.2 million

Bruno Mars – 1.29 million tickets, $167.6 million

Of the Top 200 arenas: State Farm (formerly Philips), which was closed the majority of the year, still made it onto the list at No. 61 with ticket sales of 313,402 with Infinite Energy Arena at No. 68 with 274,264 in tickets.

Of the Top 100 amphitheaters: Cellairis Amphitheatre at Lakewood is No. 37 with 211,938 ticket sold; Verizon Amphitheatre in Alpharetta No. 41 with 180,379; and State Bank Amphitheatre at Chastain Park No. 57 with 97,492.

Of the Top 200 theaters: The Fox Theatre had a major showing at No. 3, behind Auditorio Nacional in Mexico City and Radio City Music Hall, with 704,828 tickets sold; Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre is No. 39 with 170,884.

Of the Top 200 clubs: City Winery Atlanta hit No. 50 with 62,061 tickets old; Variety Playhouse No. 70 with 49,501; Terminal West No. 106 with 27,845; and the Tabernacle No. 162 with 13,207.

Of the Top 100 Outdoor Stadiums: Mercedes-Benz Stadium clocked in at No. 13 with 324,133 tickets sold and SunTrust Park at No. 77 with 100,733.

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About the Author

Melissa Ruggieri
Melissa Ruggieri
Atlanta Journal-Constitution staff writer Melissa Ruggieri covers music and entertainment news for the AJC. She remembers when MTV was awesome.