Queen + Metallica Top 2019 Album Sales List
Queen and Metallica earned more from album sales than anyone else last year, according to a brand new report from Billboard collecting The Highest Paid Musicians of 2019. Kiss, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Aerosmith, and Tool also made appearances on Billboard’s detailed Money Makers lists, written up by veteran journalist Ed Christman.
The figures cited on the list, published Monday, August 17, are all estimates, using a combination of U.S.-only Nielsen Music and Billboard Boxscore data to make educated guesses about revenue from each artist’s sales, streaming, publishing and touring.
Queen topped the list for album sales, thanks in part to a massive boost from the Academy Award-winning biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, which gave Rami Malek the Best Actor Oscar for his convincing portrayal of late frontman Freddie Mercury. The movie’s soundtrack of the same name, several greatest hits compilations and enduring classic albums such as 1975’s A Night at the Opera contributed to the surviving members’ estimated $9.6 million haul, besting all artists of every genre in terms of pure sales.
Metallica arrived at No. 2 with an estimated $3.6M from album sales. Not only has 1991’s self-titled “Black Album” moved more than 11 million copies in the U.S. since it was released, but the band owns the master recordings of their entire catalog. Since 2012, Metallica albums have been issued on the group’s own Blackened Recordings imprint. (They even purchased a pressing plant, which handles all of their vinyl.)
Sales of the Queen and Metallica catalog albums bested the album sales of Billie Eilish, Paul McCartney and BTS, among others. While Tool was absent from the overall Top 40 Highest Paid list, the long-awaited release of Fear Incolum and the introduction of their back catalog to digital services, such as Apple Music and Spotify, helped propel them to No. 8 on the Top Sales list, with an estimated $1.5M in revenue.
Queen is the only rock band to make an appearance in the Top 10 for streaming revenue, at No. 5 with $8.1M. They were also No. 5 on the Top Publishing list with $3.06M. Both Queen and Metallica did well on the overall Highest Paid list, as well.
Queen was the first hard rock band on the list with an estimated $35.2M, behind The Rolling Stones ($65M), Ariana Grande ($44.3M), Elton John ($43.3M), and Jonas Brothers ($40.9M). The majority of Queen’s total came from live shows ($14.M), with Adam Lambert fronting the band since 2009.
Kiss, the next hard rock band on the list at No. 8, benefitted from touring even more, with an estimated $25.7M of their $26.7M total coming from the End of the Road World Tour. There isn’t another hard rock band on the list till No. 14, with Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s holiday-themed shows pushing them to a $25.2M total.
Aerosmith was No. 26 with an estimated $18.3M; $15.9M from touring, $1.3M from streaming, $610,000 from publishing, and $516,100 from sales. Metallica was No. 28 on the list, with $17.9M; $9.5M from touring, $3.6M streaming, $1.3M publishing.
The estimates for sales and publishing are based on industry-standard royalty rates minus a ten percent management commission. The list does not include any cash earned from merchandise, film and TV licensing, or sponsorships. Read a detailed breakdown of the exact methodology used for the list over at Billboard.com.
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