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Country Profile: Hungary

The world’s leading promoters & the 55 top markets they operate in.
Click the interactive map below to explore the top 55 global markets.

In Hungary, 2023 has very much been Live Nation’s year. The promoting giant occupied the country’s only major stadium – Puskás Aréna – for the entire summer, with the likes of Depeche Mode, Guns N’ Roses, and Rammstein headlining the venue. “The major operations of international companies like Live Nation and AEG work very well, especially in Hungary,” says Laszlo Hegedus, MD of Multimedia Organisation Kft, “The geographically central position of the country allows fans from the Balkans and across Eastern Europe easy [access to] the big stadium shows in Budapest.”

Inflation has been as damaging here as anywhere however, with the knock-on effect of hitting small and mid-level shows hardest. “We’re experiencing a very interesting split of the market,” Hegedus says. “The major names are getting all the attention, and, despite the general financial crisis, their followers pay ridiculous ticket prices because people want to see them under any circumstances. There’s a kind of ‘end of the world’ feeling. This is killing many independent promoters.”

Yet, he argues, the tide is beginning to turn. Hungary has a healthy industry of independent promoters, including Multimedia, Livesound, Concerto Music, and Green Stage Productions. Sadly, longstanding promoter ShowTime Budapest closed following the death of MD Márton Brády in 2021.

Sadly, longstanding promoter ShowTime Budapest closed following the death of MD Márton Brády in 2021.

Zsolt Borsányi of the ecologically minded Green Stage (formerly Danubius Music) recently staged sold-out arena shows by Hans Zimmer and was involved with booking the 180 local artists who appeared with Ennio Morricone during his Hungarian shows. He hails the arrival of the 18,000-capacity MVM Dome in Budapest for bolstering the country’s upper echelon concert industry and notes that agents are booking more major tours through Hungary now that they’ve realised how far away Budapest is from the Ukraine war.

“The full impact of the economic conditions isn’t yet being felt,” Borsányi says, “because the mainstream concert events sell out quickly. Based on the forecasts, a major downturn is more likely in early 2024, but I hope things will turn positive before then. If the right economic and social decisions are taken in the period ahead, then perhaps by the end of 2024, early 2025, we could be back on track. We are optimistic about the future, but it is certain that we will need to make [safer] business decisions that will help this transition.”

Meanwhile, the country’s youth is rallying around the grassroots scene. “In growing numbers they’re visiting the smaller- and medium-sized events just to support them against the major mega shows,” reckons Hegedus. This is not a movement yet, but if it develops further, in a few years we might see a new trend of ‘independentism.’”

“In growing numbers they’re visiting the smaller- and medium-sized events just to support them against the major mega shows.”

In the festival scene, it’s also a story of success at the top end. The country’s biggest event, Sziget, was another success this year, drawing 100,000 fans per day to the Island of Freedom in the middle of the Danube in Budapest for multicultural programmes headlined by the likes of Billie Eilish, David Guetta, and Florence + The Machine. “After quite a hard period during Covid, it’s the start of a new beginning,” festival CEO Tamás Kádár told IQ. “The focus is to provide people with the time of their lives.”

Several smaller festivals struggled, though. “Many small and medium festivals closed down due to lack of interest or because they lacked the required permissions from the authorities due to the protestations of neighbouring citizens,” says Hegedus. “Only the big and well-financed festivals remain successful.”

The best method for building acts remains the tried-and- tested: dedicated gigging to build audiences on the club circuit, where Hungarians tend to gather socially whatever the music (although hip-hop remains particularly popular).

“For international acts, too, a functioning club network provides them with a good opportunity to introduce themselves to the Hungarian market, mainly during the summer period,” Hegedus says.

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