The company's Q1 2021 earnings show a double-digit increase in concert revenue from Q4 2020, along with robust fan demand for live events
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News of Live Nation's record-breaking Q1 saw the company's share price rocket 14% when markets opened today
By James Hanley on 05 May 2023
Live Nation posted revenue of $3.1 billion (€2.8bn) for the first quarter of 2023 – up 73% on 12 months ago – as CEO Michael Rapino hailed a breakout year for the new generation of headline artists.
The results prompted a notable uptick in Live Nation’s share price, increasing from $66.76 to $75.91 at press time.
Operating income was $143 million, with AOI at $320m, while losses narrowed from $0.39 a share in Q1 2022 to $0.25 year-on-year.
The company posted record results across all divisions, with ticket sales of almost 90 million tracking more than 20% ahead of the same period last year, driven by a record number of stadium shows and “continued strong growth” in arena tours, leading Rapino to declare that 2023 was “off to a tremendous start”
“For the first time in three years, all of our markets are fully open,” he said. “The common theme we are seeing around the world is that live experiences are a high priority for fans. What is clear as we look at our results and operating metrics is that global demand for live events continues to reach new heights – demand has been growing for a long time and is showing no signs of letting up.
“We expect to host a record number of fans this year, even against a 2022 comparison which benefited from rescheduled shows attended by 20 million fans.”
“This is the real breakout year where the world and the consumer are truly global”
Speaking to investors on the company’s earnings call, Rapino said the business was “firing on all cylinders”.
“To be sitting here today above and beyond last year’s numbers, shows the global strength of the business, and it also shows the global strength of the business from the amphitheatre and the stadium to the club to the festival,” he said. “We’re looking at all territories around the world, firing on all cylinders.”
Its concerts division was responsible for the lion’s share – $2.3bn – of revenue, up from $1.2bn y-o-y, while ticketing leapt from $480m to $678m to $678 million. Rapino stressed that the numbers were not just being powered by heritage acts, but by new headliners from around the world.
“Six of the top 10 artists were younger artists,” he said. “You look at Lollapalooza, Coachella with Bad Bunny, Karol G, Rosalia, Blackpink, BTS, Billie Eilish. I mean, there’s just a host of great new talent every year coming up, filling the pipe. We didn’t know Luke Combs was going to be selling stadiums out this year, two years ago. We had no idea Bad Bunny was going to be the largest selling artist last year.
“We’re also seeing this encouraging new supply strategy where for many years, it was all about US or UK-based artists that filled the charts and fill the stadium and most other talent was domestic. It might have been big in Canada, it might have been big in area, but it didn’t travel.
“This is the real breakout year where the world and the consumer are truly global. Now, you can see artists coming from Latin America and Korea and becoming global superstars. So we think that alone gives the next kick to the supply chain for the next 10 years of young talent from, it will be from India, South Africa, it’s going to be everywhere overnight finding their way to TikTok and Spotify and other places to become these global stars that are selling arenas and stadiums out in their markets.”
“There’s no concern that somehow AI can never replace the live experience”
Rapino added that Ticketmaster is expected to deliver record activity, with around 600 million tickets managed globally this year, while LN’s sponsorship business was on track for double-digit AOI growth.
In addition, Rapino addressed the recent launch of Live Nation’s music-led destination experience company Vibee, describing the premium business as a “huge opportunity”.
“We think there’s a great opportunity overall to launch more products and services that can provide a better premium experience for the customer,” he said. “So this would just be an extension and a continual strategy towards what we call the premium experience.”
The firm’s president and CFO Joe Berchtold, meanwhile, touched upon the thorny subject of artificial intelligence, suggesting its implications for Live Nation were only positive.
“I think it’s all upside for us,” he said. “There’s no concern that somehow AI can never replace the live experience. For us, I consider it an infrastructure tool for both efficiency and effectiveness. So if you think about using AI on recommendations, much better marketing much better individual recommendation in terms of making you aware of shows that you might want to go to.
“Clearly, we’re using machine learning now to help inform models on suggesting pricing that we were just talking about. AI is just the same thing to the next level of data input through that machine learning process.”
Live Nation has also announced the return of its annual Concert Week from 10-16 May. The programme offers fans $25 all-in tickets to more than 3,800 shows across North America.
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