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Iron Maiden makes millions of dollars by playing live for pirates (update)

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Venerable British heavy metal band Iron Maiden has found a lucrative way to deal with pirates. Rather than prosecuting people for illegally downloading songs such as Run to the Hills and The Trooper, Iron Maiden instead traveled the world to play shows in pirates' home countries, selling merchandise and winning new fans in the process. Cite World reports that data from British company Musicmetric indicated a surge in Iron Maiden piracy from South America. Instead of pursuing legal action, the band toured the continent extensively, making $2.58 million from one sold-out São Paolo show alone, and adding another 5 million fans to its already extensive social media fanbase.

Update: Cite World has now added a correction to its article explaining that Iron Maiden didn't work with Musicmetric, and has "no confirmation the band ever saw or used" the data cited.

Update 2: TechCrunch has some additional information from a Musicmetric spokesperson that wished to remain anonymous. Stating that the original Cite World story is "sadly not substantiated," the spokesperson writes that the company "never stated or implied that Iron Maiden had used our analytics to plan its tours."

Update 3: We’ve spoken with Musicmetric spokesperson Andrew Teacher, who has provided some additional clarity on the matter. Earlier this year the London Stock Exchange published a report naming Iron Maiden LLP — the corporate entity behind the band — as one of the 1000 most dynamic companies in the UK. Musicmetric, which tracks online activity and provides analytics for music industry artists, conducted its study to determine some of the possible reasons behind Maiden’s impressive growth. It was a look back created by Musicmetric, not something the band used for tour planning as claimed in Cite World’s original report.

However, according to the study Iron Maiden’s significant popularity in South America is reflected in its social media presence. Five South American countries — including Brazil, Colombia, and Chile — are among the band's top 10 countries when it comes to Twitter followers. Brazil is also named as the top country for illegal file-sharing of Iron Maiden tracks, ahead of both the UK and the United States. All of the data taken together suggests an ecosystem in which Iron Maiden is able to profit from an active fanbase with merchandise and concert ticket sales — even if those same fans would rather pirate music than purchase it. That said, Iron Maiden has been touring the globe and making stops in South America for decades at this point, and there is no indication that the band will be using BitTorrent traffic to determine its future touring plans.