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ILMC 36: The Venue’s Venue: New Frontiers

Experts from Live Nation, Co-op Live, D. Live and ASM Global explored the eruption of new and forthcoming venues

By Oumar Saleh on 05 Mar 2024

Experts in venue operations, events strategy and promoting convened at ILMC 36 to analyse the potential of new arenas in emerging and established markets.

Moderated by IQ Magazine’s special projects editor James Drury, The Venue’s Venue: New Frontiers panel featured Live Nation’s Phil Bowdery, Co-op Live’s Gary Roden, D.Live’s Daniela Stork and ASM Global’s Marie Lindqvist and Tim Worton, who discussed what the developments mean for customers, existing venues and touring routes.

Drury kicked off proceedings at London’s Royal Lancaster Hotel by citing several findings from studies conducted by the European Arenas Association (EAA) and the National Arenas Association (NAA). Both indicated that overall attendances grew by 16% in 2023 (27,991,247 people) when compared to 2022 (24,224,783). Due to increased post-pandemic production and touring costs, average ticket prices also rose by 7% in 2023 (€62.04) when compared to 2022 (€58).

According to Worton, those figures were also reflected in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region.

“We came out of Covid a lot later than other territories, so our 2022 numbers were lighter compared to the rest of the world,” he explained. “However, our 2023 numbers were in line with or slightly higher than in 2019, which I credit towards a pent-up post-Covid demand to finally go out and watch live entertainment.”

“I’ve already sold out five new shows in January this year. I can’t remember the last time that happened”

Worton also confirmed a new multi-purpose facility opening up in Bangkok, as well as the 50,000-capacity Kai Tak Sports Arena in Hong Kong.

“2023 was a very strong year for us in general,” noted Lindqvist, referencing the fact that several European markets didn’t register full years in 2022. “‘23 has been a great year for stadium shows in particular.”

“I’ve already sold out five new shows in January this year,” added Bowdery. “I can’t remember the last time that happened.”

Roden has been overseeing the development of Manchester’s Co-op Live, which is scheduled to open in April, and is looking forward to what the venue can offer from a business and entertainment standpoint.

“At 23,500 capacity, it’s going to be the biggest indoor arena in the UK, and given Manchester being a huge regional market, the city can definitely take a second arena,” he said, adding that this year’s MTV Europe Music Awards will be held there in a collaborative effort with Manchester City Council — further emphasising how governmental organisations are waking up to the value of using music as a city attraction.

“Our energy costs went up by 50% last year. Staffing costs have also gone through the roof”

Another point of discussion was the new types of “concert content” being advertised and played in arena shows. Worton praised the rise of Asian and Indian pop shows, while Stork elaborated on the importance of working with less established acts and promoters.

“We always attempt to build and foster relationships with promoters who haven’t had a long history in the business, and we try to go the extra mile to help them set up shows in our venues,” said Stork, who added that D.Live has a great track record with specialty bands who aren’t associated with their regular shows.

“It’s challenging sometimes, but it’s also good fun because it’s something really different,” she said.

The panel also reached a unanimous agreement when it came to discussing the most significant cost challenges. “Our energy costs went up by 50% last year,” said Worton. “Staffing costs have also gone through the roof.”

However, Lindqvist stated the rise in energy bills enabled her team to “make all the necessary investments for reducing energy consumption that ensure environmentally-friendly standards”.

“It’s a very clear trend in all the markets… People want to upgrade their experience, and it’s something that we’re accommodating towards”

When quizzed about the increasing size of production sets and whether a reduction in the number of trucks artists require for their shows, Bowdery stated that such acts are mainly “thinking about their fans” while admitting that their concerts will only get bigger.

“They’re artists, so they want to make sure that everyone enjoys their shows,” he said. “It’s a sign for our times.”

The panel further commented on the shifts in consumer trends when it comes to a preference in premium VIP experiences over general admission tickets, despite a marked increase in the global cost of living.

“It’s a very clear trend in all the markets, which is why we’ve also shifted towards a more B2C model,” Lindqvist said. “People want to upgrade their experience, and it’s something that we’re accommodating towards. This trend is shaping up how we’re going into the market and how we engage with our customers around those different opportunities.”

In closing, the panel explored the role sustainability plays into their operations, which has become a top priority for them. Examples included the banning of single-use plastics, constructing washing stations, selling reusable cups, and more.

“Our buildings have been running on renewable energy for a few years now,” said Stork. “I think everyone from fans to artists have the right to expect that we try our best to be as sustainable as possible.”


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