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The annual guide to the global live entertainment ticketing business
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In a market the size of Ireland – around 5m in the Republic, with another not-quite 2m north of the border – there is only room for so many operators, and all the more so when the overwhelmingly dominant player is Ticketmaster.
Whereas the LN-Gaiety-owned MCD has competition in the independent Aiken Promotions, Ticketmaster serves both, as well as pretty much all Ireland’s major events, which, needless to say, have enjoyed their first post-Covid summer.
Festivals such as Electric Picnic, Forbidden Fruit, and Longitude are stronger than ever, with record-breaking attendance. Major international touring artists like Ed Sheeran (who this year has played eight stadium shows: Dublin, Cork, Limerick, and Belfast); Westlife (four stadiums and four arenas); and Garth Brooks (five stadiums) are drawing huge audiences and demonstrate that the market for live music is as robust as ever.
“2022 has already proven an incredible year for the number of events taking place, with the summer up 60% from our previous high of 2018”
“2022 has already proven an incredible year for the number of events taking place, with the summer up 60% from our previous high of 2018,” says Ticketmaster Ireland managing director Keith English. “Repeating this volume of events – which our major clients tell us they plan to do – would be incredible.”
In October German group DEAG bought a majority stake in Oshi, operator of the tickets.ie platform. The deal aims for synergies with DEAG’s Irish promoter Singular Artists, which launched in autumn 2020 and organised 300 events last year.
DISTRIBUTION OF SALES
Ireland, like many modern markets, has spent the post-pandemic months amassing compelling mobile ticketing case studies. “Digital is by far the most popular way to receive a ticket in Ireland, across all genres,” says English. “The Longitude Festival saw 90% of fans through the gates using their mobile devices.
“Sixty-two percent of all patrons at the School of Rock musical in Bord Gáis Gais Energy Theatre entered with a digital ticket. Fifty-five percent of GAA fans at Croke Park for the Dublin v Kerry All-Ireland Semi-Final used digital tickets as well.”
“Digital is by far the most popular way to receive a ticket in Ireland, across all genres”
So, mobile it is. The option of paper tickets does remain, but English says the advantages of digital extend in all directions. “We now have a more direct relationship with fans via digital ticketing than ever before,” he says. “Instant digital ticket delivery is already reducing fan support issues and providing a far better customer experience.”
VALUE OF MARKET
The most recent research, from 2017, shows that the Irish economy, north and south, makes €1.7bn a year from live entertainment, as every €1 spent on tickets generates a further €6.06 in additional spending [source: Fáilte Ireland/IMRO].
A ban on reselling tickets above face value came into force in July 2021, in defiance of Viagogo’s argument that anti-touting laws are unconstitutional. Those who break the law face fines of as much as €100,000 or up to two years in prison.
INTERNATIONAL / DOMESTIC SPLITS & GENRES
Ireland is a remarkable talent engine – everyone knows U2, Hozier, Roísín Murphy, Westlife, Niall Horan, Van Morrison, and Dermot Kennedy. Where international acts are concerned, both Dublin and Belfast are up for almost anything the rest of Europe gets.
As an island, Ireland is experiencing extremely strange times – the union of Northern Ireland and the UK under strain as a result of Brexit and no economic border between the Republic and Northern Ireland. So, in a way, Ireland is more unified than it has been in years, even if there are no easy solutions to the current mess.
“Recruitment and retention haves proven to be challenging for live entertainment”
Covid, too, has queered everyone’s pitch. “Recruitment and retention haves proven to be challenging for live entertainment,” says English. “We’ve had to staff up as quickly as possible to handle the large volumes of fan support queries that are being driven by the legacy of rescheduled events maturing – particularly those that have rescheduled several times.”
TAXES & CHARGES
The service charge on tickets is typically 12.5%, which includes any taxes and is capped at €6.85.