In today's music industry, artists can no longer rest on their laurels after releasing a hit record. From the buzz bands to the industry giants, it's touring that keeps the dollars rolling in and the fan numbers high. We ranked the top tours of 2012 by average box office gross per city and the average ticket price for shows in North America. And that's not even including all those oversized tour tees found at the merch table. So who ended up on top now that the year is ending?
Madonna -- MDNA Tour
Madge has always known how to tantalize a crowd. Despite landing on GQ's Least Influential People list this year, she can still fill a stadium. Her latest album, MDNA, topped the charts and she got EVERYONE to watch her Super Bowl halftime performance, so it's no surprise her latest tour grossed roughly $4,074,848. No stranger to off-color antics and remarks, she got booed recently for getting political during the election. While her whips and pageantry may be wearing thin, the queen bee still marches in with cash in her pockets.
Barbra Streisand -- Back to Brooklyn Tour
The legendary born-and-bred Brooklynite made her homecoming after leaving the borough 33 years ago. But nostalgia ain't cheap. At $263 a pop, this diva still commands a high price and pulled in $4,065,743 for her tour. Joined by trumpeter Chris Botti, Italian operatic trio Il Volo and her 45-year-old son Jason Gould, she wooed audiences across the country with class and bravado. While she may not hit as many of those high notes at 70, she's still an entertainer and singer in a class all of her own.
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band -- Wrecking Ball Tour
He drives grown men to tears and bikers to duke it out at the box office. Boss fever is a real thing. Hitting the road to support their 17th studio album, the E-Street Band closed the tour with $2,766,691 in earnings. Wrecking Ball was their first tour since losing band member "Big Man" Clarence Clemons in June 2011. But the horns still sounded, with Bruce and band joined by Clemon's nephew Jake to bring back the brass. Beloved by critics and audiences alike, and now nominated for three Grammys, Bruce Springsteen is an American institution.
Justin Bieber -- Believe Tour
What's the best way to deal with a breakup? Flash your abs, hobnob with Victoria's Secret Angels and rake in $1,217,217 in ticket sales. At least that's the Biebs way. Fresh off his split from teen star Selena Gomez, the former mop-top teen idol is still selling out stadiums of adoring hyperventilating female fans with no signs of stopping. Until puberty sets in, his vocal range continues to impress, showing off his a capella chops and R&B style with fellow Canadian star and rapper Drake during his latest tour.
Peter Gabriel -- Back to Front Tour
The former Genesis frontman sledgehammered away at ticket sales on his latest tour, marking the belated 25th anniversary of his 1986 solo album, So. Along with his original touring band from his So days, Gabriel treated crowds to the album in its entirety and various hits from his long and legendary musical catalog. Gabriel touched audiences with his enduring sincerity, cutting edge theatrics and avant-garde projections. With the tour's success of $824,571 earnings, Gabriel is now bringing the "Back to Front Tour" to his native UK.
Red Hot Chili Peppers -- I'm With You World Tour
They're obviously doing something right, with RHCP making Forbes' annual list of the World's 25 Highest-Paid Musicians for 2012. After prominent guitarist John Frusciante left the group, critics worried, but the Peppers continue to persevere and toured to promote their 10th studio album, I'm With You, raking in $713,443 in ticket sales. On the cusp on celebrating 30 years as a group, they no longer show up in the buff wearing tube socks, but continue to deliver a high-energy, original So-Cal rock show to the masses.
Jason Aldean -- My Kinda Party Tour
Country music heavyweight and fresh breakout star Jason Aldean continues to set attendance records for country shows and pulled in $691,893 in sales on his latest tour. Joined by fellow country artist Luke Bryan, Aldean continues to pack the houses with a mix of stripped-down acoustic guitar, piano skills and classic country. His latest tour included a special appearance by fellow Atlanta native Ludacris and a preview of singles off his newest record Night Train, much to his fans delight.
Zac Brown Band 2012 Tour
This country-folk and southern rock band eschews the usual country clichés of cowboy hats and pickup trucks for a more modern blend of styles. In support of their album, Uncaged, these Grammy winners hit the road, appealing to crossover crowds at Bonnaroo and selling out mega-stadiums like Madison Square Garden. With a cool $668,709 earnings under their belt, they still treated fans to pre-show Eat & Greet sessions with extra helpings of southern charm.
Brad Paisley -- Virtual Reality World Tour
Self-described "high-tech redneck" Brad Paisley's latest tour name was fitting, considering the amount of singing holograms and lasers thrown into the mix. As a veteran of the country scene who always pulls big numbers, Paisley brought a lot of guests along on tour to share in the spotlight and $592,878 in earnings. The tour was even extended midway through to appease the throngs of Paisley-hungry country fans out there.
Rascal Flatts -- Changed Tour
Another summer, another onslaught on country music tours, and Rascal Flatts have never been strangers to the road. With their twangy guitars and pop hooks, this country trio has over ten years of hits on their hands to work with. While their music is pretty rootsy, their production is not. With a slick stage production and design, they continue to be one of the most popular touring groups each year and pulled in $522,050 in 2012. Carrie Underwood -- Blown Away World Tour
As country music's leading lady, this former American Idol is on top of her game, raking in $506,968 in tickets sales alone. With an armload's worth of awards and record-breaking albums, there's no stopping this platinum-haired powerhouse. Her latest tour featured traditional country music with plenty of pop and over-the-top costumes for extra eye candy. While she leaves fans truly blown away, she doesn't always dazzle the critics with her one-mode blowout style of singing.
Journey with Loverboy and Pat Benatar 2012 Tour
This perpetually touring power ballad band leaves no room for nostalgia with their hectic schedule. Although this summer they were slightly overshadowed by their fellow '80s idols on the ticket, Loverboy and Pat Benatar. Journey's latest frontman Arnel Pineda replaced legendary lead vocalist Steve Perry back in 2007, but it was the pixie-sized Benatar who stole the show. While Journey's number of hits is impressive, one after another it's not the most engaging rock show to see in a live setting. But then again, $487,411 in ticket sales might prove otherwise.