How Iron Maiden Actually Made Money From People Stealing The Band's Music

Iron maiden thumbReuters PicturesBritish heavy metal legends Iron Maiden playing Rio de Janeiro in 2001.

It’s not a revelation that nowadays, musicians make almost all of their money through concert ticket sales.

Ever since the rise of high-speed Internet made it easy to pirate music about a decade ago, the industry and critics have been arguing back and forth on how to deal with the issue.

The argument has only grown more complicated with the introduction of legal streaming services like Spotify, and no one really seems to agree on how healthy the music industry is. But while the debate over piracy continues, classic heavy metal band Iron Maiden has figured out a way to make millions from it.

The band’s holding company, Iron Maiden LLP, was one of the six music firms that outperformed the music sector according to a report from the London Stock Exchange.

British analytics company Musicmetric saw this report and ran an analysis of the band. It compiled data regarding things like social media fans and top streaming songs. Most importantly, it tracked illegal torrent downloads, and where they were most popular.

It turned out that the band had surging popularity in South America, especially Brazil.

As CITEworld put it:

Rather than send in the lawyers, Maiden sent itself in. The band has focused extensively on South American tours in recent years, one of which was filmed for the documentary ‘Flight 666.’ After all, fans can’t download a concert or t-shirts. The result was massive sellouts. The São Paolo show alone grossed £1.58 million (US$2.58 million) alone.

And after its “Maiden England” tour that ended this past October, the band added five million online fans, with a concentration in South America.

“If you engage with fans, there is a chance to turn a percentage into paying customers,” Gregory Mead, CEO of Musicmetric, told CITEworld.

So while this might mean bands like Metallica could benefit from online analytics instead of waging an all-out war on illegal downloads, not every band can be Iron Maiden. The average musician does not have the opportunities that come with 30 years of hits and die-hard fans.

According to Pollstar, concert ticket revenues more than doubled between 2001 and 2012, going from $US1.8 billion to $US4.2 billion. But the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) contended that due to losses from the sales of music, the industry has been on a continual decline, with combined revenues of music sales and concert tickets down 27 per cent over that same period.

Some critics think that people will begin purchasing music en masse again when album releases once again become events worth the price. They point to the huge success of Beyoncé’s new self-titled “visual album,” which had a surprise premiere and offered iTunes customers a music video for each track.

We first heard of the Iron Maiden story on Gawker, and the commenter “jjjschmidt” brought this to our attention — in addition to being legends, the band has the luxury of having its own huge private jet. And singer Bruce Dickinson is the pilot! Check it out at 3:30:

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