The Hardest Touring Artists of 2018

It’s a golden age for live music, with artists hitting the road more often and for longer stretches. Getting sweaty with a bunch of like-minded fans provides the tangible experience lacking in an age where algorithms dominate listening habits. Which got us thinking. Who are the hardest touring artists?

The answers surprised us. We crunched some numbers based on the 1,000 most popular artists on Songkick this November and December. From that data we've cobbled together a bunch of Top 10s from across six loosely-defined genres - rock, metal, dance, electronic, hip-hop, and good old singer-songwriters - to reveal the hardest-gigging artists of 2018.

Whether you love them, loathe them, have never heard of them, or are just plain indifferent towards their existence, you've got to respect the work ethic.

Artist & Genre Leaderboard

Before we get into the more detailed stuff, let's take a look at the genres piling up the most miles and the artists who clearly don't know the meaning of "slow down".

Hardest touring bands - infographic

The hardest working band in terms of their sheer amount of shows in 2018 was alternative metal outfit Shinedown with an impressive/suicidal 136 gigs in 12 months. Which makes us wonder: how come we've never heard of them? Are we that out of touch?

However, when looking at the furthest distance travelled between performances, electronic producer R3hab took the most scenic route. Again, however, not so scenic that we've ever heard of him.

When comparing the genres we chose, rock and metal came out on top for the number of performances. Life on the road, lugging around guitars and amps and drums, must still hold some kind of romantic appeal. But whilst the top 10 dance and electronic artists may have played fewer venues they're not shy of some serious jet-setting - clocking up over two million miles between them. Their frequent flyer rewards must be awesome.

View full leaderboard »

Genre Top 10 Lists - The Hardest Touring Artists

OK, beyond the headlines...who's really put the graft into their craft this year? Based on the six genres we've focused on, we've put together a series of Top 10 lists for your amusement.

Fun fact: based on the miles travelled between their performances in 2018, every band featured in our top 10 lists has effectively circumnavigated the world at least once this year.

Top 10 Rock (Indie, Folk, Alternative)

When you think of big tours and life on the road, it's likely you'll be picturing a rock band. Our research shows that this isn't just an unearned stereotype, with bands like Portugal. The Man, The Wombats, alt-J, Editors and Franz Ferdinand racking up tens of thousands of miles to keep their fans happy.

Artist ▲▼ # of Gigs ▲▼ Miles Travelled (2018) ▲▼ Miles Travelled (Career) ▲▼
Escape the Fate 131 81539 618293
Sleeping With Sirens 110 69836 443998
Portugal. The Man 106 69638 745537
Foreigner 105 60949 911417
Milky Chance 103 61851 368906
The Wombats 102 81105 702136
Dashboard Confessional 101 46480 592538
alt-J 101 65381 632519
Editors 101 54025 534268
Franz Ferdinand 98 85830 881538

Top 10 Metal (Heavy/Alternative)

Fans of metal music are some of the most dedicated in the world, so it makes sense that their idols are just as fanatic about touring their music as metalheads are about moshing along to it. The top 10 includes plenty of well-known names that haven't become complacent with their craft from heavy metal heroes Judas Priest to crowd-pleasing thrashers Bullet For My Valentine.

Artist ▲▼ # of Gigs ▲▼ Miles Travelled (2018) ▲▼ Miles Travelled (Career) ▲▼
Shinedown 136 47470 687103
P.O.D. 105 41951 606048
Bullet For My Valentine 101 44450 801164
Asking Alexandria 99 36396 691232
Stone Sour 96 59225 460517
Seether 89 58091 725906
Puddle of Mudd 89 44665 626718
Def Leppard 86 50500 1040965
Judas Priest 86 38814 661989
Marilyn Manson 86 38333 896520

Top 10 Dance (EDM / Trance / Techno / House)

From euphoric trance through to twitchy techno, these artists pack out venues all over the world. 2018's top 10 hardest touring dance artists includes plenty of household names like Tiësto and Benny Benassi as well as both members of Major Lazer, DJ Snake and Diplo.

Artist ▲▼ # of Gigs ▲▼ Miles Travelled (2018) ▲▼ Miles Travelled (Career) ▲▼
Tiësto 119 243566 2356428
The Chainsmokers 108 104171 862520
Diplo 92 124136 1494731
Above & Beyond 89 116965 1473571
DJ Snake 76 176981 743740
Kygo 76 73587 367563
Benny Benassi 75 60481 1157741
Steve Aoki 73 57809 2354300
Alesso 54 85014 890219
Afrojack 53 51488 1202021

Top 10 Electronic (Experimental / Big Beat / Dubstep)

For those looking for a more chilled experience, you're never far from a superb electronic set (or so it seems based on this lot's touring schedule). Those topping the listings for relentless touring include electro-funk duo Chromeo, producer extraordinaire Bonobo and the synth-stylings ODESZA.  

Artist ▲▼ # of Gigs ▲▼ Miles Travelled (2018) ▲▼ Miles Travelled (Career) ▲▼
R3hab 118 287550 1064255
Marshmello 104 85041 509862
Chromeo 94 50684 651600
Dillon Francis 90 50085 908301
ODESZA 81 75497 472250
Galantis 79 117011 512685
Bonobo 78 123333 1031583
Hardwell 73 93765 1236271
Kaskade 72 57042 1390164
ZHU 63 85801 216631

Top 10 Hip Hop (Trap / Gangsta Rap / Alternative)

Fans of hip hop are living in a golden age of quality and variety. Whether you're into rap, trap or something a bit more alternative, there are plenty of artists out on the road to bring you what you crave. The top 10 hardest touring hip hop artists include some of the best the genre has to offer including Migos, Travis Scott and Talib Kweli.

Artist ▲▼ # of Gigs ▲▼ Miles Travelled (2018) ▲▼ Miles Travelled (Career) ▲▼
Tech N9ne 132 46057 506813
Migos 121 52604 392616
G-Eazy 101 38470 384186
Playboi Carti 100 66936 194580
Bone Thugs-n-Harmony 92 85790 671655
Tory Lanez 88 38675 319300
Travis Scott 75 39534 380530
Kyle 72 67218 158173
Chief Keef 70 44066 143895
Talib Kweli 68 49684 1041674

Top 10 Singer-Songwriters (Folk, Country, Reggae)

For those who prefer something a bit more sombre and thought-provoking, there are plenty of guitar-toting troubadours constantly touring. Whether you’re a country buff, a folk fanatic or (for whatever reason) enjoy pop-driven reggae, there’s likely a live show for you. The biggest grafters in singer-songwriter category range from legends like Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson who – in their 70s and 80s respectively – put our work ethic to shame, to artists who aren’t yet pension age including Iron & Wine, KT Tunstall and Father John Misty.

Artist ▲▼ # of Gigs ▲▼ Miles Travelled (2018) ▲▼ Miles Travelled (Career) ▲▼
Vance Joy 112 106617 543506
First Aid Kit 105 54792 482451
Father John Misty 96 80754 471256
KT Tunstall 93 35003 396603
Jason Mraz 80 41574 761865
Willie Nelson 75 28443 823433
Keith Urban 75 33567 691455
Chris Young 70 37966 578068
Bob Dylan 68 30228 1413012
Iron & Wine 67 61226 633074

Sources and methodology

We collated data from the top 1,000 artists on Songkick (Nov/Dec 2018) to ensure a large enough pool of results for this study. Data on gig numbers and ‘entire career distance’ were also sourced from Songkick.

2018 mileage figures were worked out by cross-referencing the Songkick data with two other gig listings sites (Bands In Town & Jam Base) and then using a mapping tool to calculate the total number of miles travelled between each performance. 

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