fbpx

PROFILE

MY SUBSCRIPTION

LOGOUT

x

The latest industry news to your inbox.

    

I'd like to hear about marketing opportunities

    

I accept IQ Magazine's Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

news

Steve Homer on ’23: ‘The watchword is caution’

The AEG Presents UK CEO speaks to IQ about challenges facing the business from the energy crisis to exchange rates

By James Hanley on 06 Oct 2022

AEG Presents CEO Steve Homer

Steve Homer


AEG Presents UK chief Steve Homer is preaching caution for the live business in 2023 following a year of ups and downs.

AEG has enjoyed successful tours in 2022 with the likes of Rammstein, Diana Ross and the Pet Shop Boys, along with a solid festival season with BST Hyde Park (“A phenomenal year”) and All Points East in London (“Good, but not as strong as ’21), plus the rejuvenated Rock en Seine in Paris (“It’s back as a major player”).

But with the industry’s post-Covid recovery facing challenges on multiple fronts, Homer tells IQ the overall picture for the sector is more mixed.

“There have been some good results across the business, and some horror shows as well”

“There have been some good results across the business, and some horror shows as well,” says Homer. “Everyone was thinking there was going to be this bumper return in ’22, and the volume of shows was there, but the audiences were still not back in great numbers. Newer shows were selling, but shows that had been moved a couple of occasions were floundering a bit and all promoters suffered from that.

“And then, obviously, we had production cost increases of 25 to 30% and just general [lack of] availability of buses, trucks and people to do the job. A lot of people left our industry during the pandemic; you had a real skillset deficit.”

Homer suggests the situation is similar in the company’s core overseas markets, albeit some countries have been slower than others to return to normal since the pandemic.

“It’s a global phenomenon where we’re experiencing a number of things that are just very challenging”

“It’s a global phenomenon where we’re experiencing a number of things that are just very challenging,” he says. “The US festival market was severely impacted by increased costs and our US business has been very cautious going forward into next year because of that. Germany is still in recovery – it’s nowhere near as advanced as the UK or North America – and events in Australia have been going well, but again, they’re a little bit behind.

“In some ways, it’s good that it’s happening to all of us, because we all understand it; there is no promoter, agent or management company that hasn’t been affected by this, so we all understand what needs to be done going forward and there’s a bit more caution out there.”

A surprise hit for the promoter, however, was the reunion tour by British hip-hop trio N-Dubz, who sold 260,000 tickets for their upcoming UK arena comeback.

“It’s phenomenal,” says Homer. “Something that was considered to be a 10-date tour ended up being a 24-date tour with four shows at The O2, all sold out, three Manchesters and three Birminghams. It’s a great news story. Coldplay, Adele and Bruce Springsteen are all out there selling is expected and they will always be hot artists, but this was something that was not anticipated and it was a nice result for everyone.”

“The watchword is caution: don’t take any unnecessary risks”

Homer also weighs in on the likely ramifications of the energy crisis for the industry, as well as the alarming pound to dollar exchange rate.

“Again, the watchword is caution: don’t take any unnecessary risks,” says Homer. “I think the energy crisis is more about how it affects people’s pockets in terms of what they can spend, so we’re not certain. In the last big recession in 2008, we saw that entertainment was still considered to be something that people needed as a release, you just don’t go as often. And then, for venues, you don’t spend as much when you’re there.”

He continues: “One of the biggest things that’s causing us concern is the pound to dollar rate at the moment [the pound hit a record low against the dollar last week but has since rallied 10%]. We were almost on parity, which has not been something we’ve been familiar with for a long, long time. And it’s really biting in terms of artists touring over here – it becomes far more expensive for them to do it and it’ll be interesting to see how that impacts going forward.

“It’s creating a few anxious thoughts as to whether we can afford to offer American artists what they need to come over, so it might mean we’re missing a few that we would normally see.”

“We can’t justify increasing ticket prices, because that’s going to be the first thing that people are going to look at and go, ‘I can’t afford to go to that'”

On the prospect of raising ticket prices in line with the rising costs, Homer notes the subject is an ongoing conversation with agents and managers, describing it as a “balancing act”.

“Artists have greater costs to run on the road, whether that’s fuel, buses, hotels, or the general level of transportation with equipment, so their profitability is going down,” he concedes. “But we can’t justify increasing ticket prices, because that’s going to be the first thing that people are going to look at and go, ‘I can’t afford to go to that.’ It doesn’t take a lot of people to say no before the tour becomes unviable.

“It’s something we are looking at, but the general [stance] is do not just increase the ticket price in order to get the money you think you need, because the audience won’t be there.”

Part two of our interview with Homer, in which he discusses going solo in the AEG hot seat, his restructured team and the firm’s ambitions in the venue market, will be published next week.

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Comments are closed.