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In these uncertain times in the music industry, with overall album sales nowhere near approaching the level they used to, it's no secret that now more than ever the real money for artists is in touring. That fact can clearly be seen on Billboard's recently-posted list of the 25 top-grossing concert tours of 2011, on which the number one earner was rock band U2 with their 360 Degrees tour - a blockbuster that racked up a whopping $293 million-plus in sales for a total of 44 sold-out shows.
Bono and friends swapped positions with Bon Jovi this year, the latter of which took the top spot in 2010 with their Circle Tour and this year had to settle for #2, with their Bon Jovi Live tour (their fourteenth overall) taking in a total of $193 million in 68 shows - not bad work if you can get it.
British pop group Take That nabbed the #3 spot with over $185 million in 29 dates on its UK-only Progress Live tour, a number likely boosted thanks to the addition of Robbie Williams to the group's lineup for the first time in nearly 15 years.
The highest-grossing solo artist on the list was not Lady Gaga or Taylor Swift, as might be expected, but rather former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters, who managed to rack up nearly $150 million in 92 sold-out dates with his ambitious The Wall Live tour (gotta love those nostalgia dollars).
Perennially awestruck awards-show juggernaut Taylor Swift rounded out the Top 5 with over $97 million in 89 shows, 87 of which counted as sellouts.
The rest of the top 25 pretty much runs the spectrum of music genres (pop, country, rock, hip-hop, adult contemporary) and represents a mixture of both younger-skewing pop stars (Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, et al.) and old veterans (The Eagles, Iron Maiden, Neil Diamond). You can check out the full list below:
1) U2, $293,281,487 (44 shows)
2) Bon Jovi, $192,947,951 (68 shows)
3) Take That, $185,175,360 (29 shows)
4) Roger Waters, $149,904,965 (92 shows)
5) Taylor Swift, $97,368,416 (89 shows)
6) Kenny Chesney, $84,576,917 (55 shows)
7) Usher, $74,954,681 (73 shows)
8) Lady Gaga, $71,900,434 (45 shows)
9) Andre Rieu, $67,104,756 (102 shows)
10) Sade, $53,178,550 (59 shows)
11) Michael Buble, $49,856,921 (57 shows)
12) The Eagles, $49,759,190 (24 shows)
13) Katy Perry, $48,851,454 (98 shows)
14) Lil Wayne, $46,300,000 (69 shows)
15) Justin Bieber, $44,124,922 (35 shows)
16) Glee Live! In Concert! $40,854,811 (40 shows)
17) NKOTBSB, $40,415,307 (51 shows)
18) Journey, $39,069,939 (73 shows)
19) Britney Spears, $37,100,000 (39 shows)
20) Iron Maiden, $33,085,671 (33 shows)
21) Kylie Minogue, $32,559,439 (41 shows)
22) Neil Diamond, $31,303,070 (20 shows)
23) Enrique Iglesias, $30,811,001 (38 shows)
24) Jason Aldean, $27,768,963 (58 shows)
25) Toby Keith, $27,313,132 (52 shows)
What do you think of the list? Any acts you weren't expecting to make the cut? Anyone you're surprised didn't? Sound off below!