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Global live music ticket sales to top $25bn

Live music will continue its more than decade-long boom through 2023, though a streaming-reinvigorated recorded sector is nipping at its heels, finds PwC's Outlook 2019

By Jon Chapple on 23 Sep 2019

Ed Sheeran's + – = ÷ x stadium tour went on sale last Saturday

Ed Sheeran's ÷ became the highest-grossing concert tour ever in August

image © Ed Sheeran (@teddysphotos)/Instagram

The value of ticket sales for live music events will exceed US$25 billion for the first time in 2023 – with total industry revenues set to reach a record $31.5m the same year, reveal the latest PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) figures.

The Global Entertainment & Media Outlook 2019–2023, the just-released 2019 update to the consulting firm’s respected annual Outlook report, finds live music ticket sales will increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.33% from 2018 to 2023, from $21.256bn (projected) in 2018 to $25.036bn in 2023.

Overall live music turnover (ticket sales + sponsorship), meanwhile, will grow 3.11% CAGR, reaching $31.493bn in four years’ time:PwC live music revenues 2019–2023

Reflecting on another strong showing in 2018, PwC’s commentary on the live sector reads: “The live music sector had another strong year, as leading artists toured the globe. The ten highest-grossing global tours in 2018 each had ticket sales that exceeded $100m. Ed Sheeran was top earner, with a four-continent tour before an aggregate audience of close to 5m people and his 90-plus performances in more than 50 cities pulled in US$432m. Taylor Swift’s 36-stop global trip amassed US$345m in tickets sales, while a combined Beyoncé and Jay-Z managed to rack up almost US$255m.

As in previous years, veteran acts pulled in huge audiences too. Eagles had a 2018 gross of US$166m, while Roger Waters, U2 and the Rolling Stones all performed well. Bruce Springsteen, Guns N’ Roses and Phil Collins also brought in large totals on their respective world tours.”

PwC’s analysts also highlighted success in the dance music sector, noting that “electronic dance music (EDM) events again drew large and lucrative crowds, and EDM DJs were paid accordingly. Calvin Harris was the best remunerated, with the artist earning around $50m, ahead of US duo The Chainsmokers ($45m) and Dutch DJ/producer Tiësto ($33m).”

“5G will ienable more streaming of high-quality video, including of live events like sports and music”

Wilson Chow, global technology, media and telecommunications leader and partner at PwC China, highlights the impending 5G roll-out as one trend to keep an eye on, saying the widespread availability of high-speed mobile internet could lead to increased take-up of concert livestreams and virtual-reality (VR) content.

“5G’s impact will be felt across the entire technology, media and telecommunications value chain for the next decade,” says Chow. “It will hasten existing trends towards personalisation, making it easier, more convenient and cheaper to access more media on phones and other mobile devices. Key impacts of 5G for E&M [entertainment and media] will include enabling more streaming of high-quality video – including of live events like sports and music – and better use of AI, together with massive opportunities for video games and VR in terms of speed and quality of images.”

While live music remains the largest single driver of industry revenue (as it has since the mid-to-late 2000s, when demand for physical product fell away), the rejuvenated recorded music sector is snapping at live’s heels, with global recorded music revenues reaching $26.7bn last year, according to PwC’s analysts, who note: “Digital music-streaming revenues, which grew 28.8% in 2018, were the largest contributor to growth.”

“All regions demonstrated rising consumer demand for subscription [music streaming] services in 2018, as well as ad-supported free tiers, and there is little sign that the market will run out of steam in the near future,” they add.

Also booming are podcasts, with the value of podcast advertising set to grow a remarkable 28.5%, to $3.2bn, in 2023, according to the Outlook 2019, and esports, which has a CAGR of 18.3%.

“Marketers need to allocate their time and attention to new types of content and platforms – influencers, live events, ads inside apps and more”

“The global esports market might still be emerging in most territories but is beginning to generate noteworthy revenue,” reads PwC’s commentary, “and those countries which are moving towards maturity show a clear path to further profitability. […] Esports is the fastest-growing sector of the video games market by some distance, and is expected to pass the US$1.8bn revenue in 2023.”

If the Outlook 2019 has one overarching theme, it’s that of personalisation: the need for entertainment businesses to recognise that consumers are “moving to the centre of their own world of media experiences”, in the words of Ennèl van Eeden, global entertainment and media leader and partner at PwC Netherlands, and pitching their content – be it an album, a videogame or a concert tour – “not at audiences of billions, but at billions of individuals”.

“The personalisation wave – fuelled by evolving customer behaviour – is set to be amplified by the forces of technology, scale and aggressive investing and competition,” says van Eeden. “The implications for organisations are profound. As the borders separating former media silos erode, companies need to think more broadly about the areas and segments in which they operate. At the same time, all E&M players must take the need to ‘know your customer’ more seriously, and marketers need to allocate their time and attention to new types of content and platforms – influencers, live events, ads inside apps and more.

“Finally, companies must focus intently on their core capabilities and geographical markets, while continually scanning the horizon for new developments and regulations, and being agile in responding to technological developments such as 5G. Put simply: it’s time to get personal with consumers, or be left out of the conversation.”

Individual 2019 and 2023 figures for all major live music markets are available in the International Ticketing Yearbook 2019, out now.


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