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The annual guide to the global live entertainment ticketing business
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Ticketing in India’s colossal market is dominated by Bollywood, but recent years have seen a marked increase in the number of live music audiences. This year already saw the wildly successful Asian debut of Lollapalooza in Mumbai in January, headlined by Imagine Dragons, The Strokes, and Diplo, with established annual extravaganzas VH1 Supersonic and Bacardi’s NH7 Weekender expected to see record attendances in 2023.
With over 2bn page views a month and approximately 180m tickets sold annually, BookMyShow retains its position as India’s leading ticket operator. The company’s growth into catering for various aspects of live entertainment has coincided with India’s rising status as a bona fide stop for global acts, which range from musicians and stage performers to internationally renowned sports competitors.
In order to meet the increasing demand for live entertainment, BookMyShow has adopted a variable pricing strategy whereby the cost of the same ticket is dynamic at timely intervals
In order to meet the increasing demand for live entertainment, BookMyShow has adopted a variable pricing strategy whereby the cost of the same ticket is dynamic at timely intervals — a scheme that was implemented during the debut Lollapalooza festival in the country earlier this year.
While not as prominent as BookMyShow, mobile payments titan Paytm established itself as a viable alternative in the Indian market with its 2017 acquisition of online ticketing and events platform Insider.in. Other companies operating within the territory also include DIY operator Townscript (which entered an investment partnership with BookMyShow in 2016), as well as TicketGenie and EventsNow — both specialising in the ticket sales of high-profile sporting events such as T20 cricket matches and the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Distribution of sales
Given that there are almost 692m Internet users in a country whose population exceeds 1.4 billion, it’s clear that an overwhelming majority of ticket sales are conducted online. “At BookMyShow, over 90% of transactions have been online,” says the company’s head of live events & IP Kunal Khambhati. “We either issue a mobile ticket, a QR code accessible through our app, or an e-ticket shared via email.”
“At BookMyShow, over 90% of transactions have been online”
While offline ticket sales have taken a backseat, BookMyShow delivers wristbands for entry to large-scale events and festivals to customers’ homes weeks before a show. “This not only ensures seamless entry to the event venue but also guarantees easier identification and helps to avoid long queues,” explains Khambhati.
Value of market
Last year, BookMyShow confirmed in their annual end-of-year report that around 8m people attended over 19,000 of their promoted events throughout 2022. “Live music has been one of our fastest growing sectors, too, contributing 25% of our revenue and 15% of the total ticket sales since lockdown,” says Khambhati.
The massive consumer demand for live entertainment across India is reflected in Statista’s findings, where the live events market was valued at INR 73bn in 2022 and is estimated to reach INR 134bn by 2025.
Ticket resale or scalping is illegal in India.
Ticket resale or scalping is illegal in India.
International/domestic splits & genres
BookMyShow recorded an increase of nearly 500% in ticket sales for domestic acts after the pandemic, with a larger spotlight on newer talent gaining a massive following across genres and consumer demographics.
While the market still leans heavily towards Indian musicians, Khambhati believes that the efforts on creating exposure for Indian artists on the global stage has paved the way for more internationally renowned acts to perform in the country.
“The increase in domestic acts has set the stage to bring in the likes of Ed Sheeran in 2017, Post Malone’s debut in India last year, and the Backstreet Boys’ DNA World Tour that saw crowds of up to 25,000 in Mumbai and New Delhi,” he explains, also citing the huge success of the inaugural Lollapalooza festival in the country. As for the country’s most popular genres, EDM and Indian music continue to be the prevalent choice for many, but pop and hip-hop are closing in fast.
Despite Bollywood’s everlasting dominance over the entertainment ecosystem in India, there continues to be a huge spike in the number of audiences willing to experience live music shows in the post-pandemic era. “With Lollapalooza India, we saw audiences from all over the country travel to Mumbai to witness acts from around the world perform live,” says Khambhati, who estimates that over 30% of the festivalgoers came from cities outside of Mumbai.
“With Lollapalooza India, we saw audiences from all over the country travel to Mumbai to witness acts from around the world perform live.”
Taxes & charges
Prior to the pandemic, India’s live entertainment sector was taxed at the maximum rate of 28% under the country’s Goods & Services Tax (GST) — the country’s equivalent to VAT. However, in an effort to speed up the industry’s recovery following the pandemic, the government brought down taxation rates to 18%.