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The annual guide to the global live entertainment ticketing business
Click the interactive map below to explore the top 40 global markets
The years of the Covid-19 pandemic brought unprecedented shutdowns and challenges for the entertainment ticketing industry across the United States.
Yet by September 2021, most live events were open again, including Broadway, college football, pro sports, and more. Events began with limited capacity, rapidly grew to 50%, and then socially distanced seating became a thing of the past as venues welcomed full houses once again.
Throughout the reopening, health and safety protocols were guided by location, US politics, and whether events were being held indoors or outdoors. While rescheduled events continue, most postponed shows are now playing off, and ticketing professionals are putting new ones on sale across the country thanks to a rapid influx of new bookings.
Throughout the reopening, health and safety protocols were guided by location, US politics, and whether events were being held indoors or outdoors.
No-show rates of between 25% and 50% were common during the earlier phases of reopening but this is decreasing significantly, although older age groups seem more prone to no-shows.
As in recent years, blockchain continues to be a hot topic. Yet the average consumer is not participating meaningfully in this new realm, so promoters and venues continue to grapple with the value of implementation and best-use cases.
The average consumer in North America is also not yet participating in the NFT environment, although Ticketmaster is partnering with blockchain Flow to offer NFTs to promoters (see feature pages 18), which is likely to see this draw significant uptake.
The major players in the primary ticketing market remain unchanged. As in past years, dozens of ticketing system vendors continue to vie for business across numerous genres, including music, festivals, pro sports, college athletics, performing arts, and attractions, among others.
SeatGeek continues to broaden its reach into primary ticketing while also remaining a major player in the secondary consumer marketplace. The company is gathering steam and signing new clients, including recent multi-year deals with NASCAR, the NHL’s Florida Panthers, FLA Live Arena, Ravinia Festival, War Memorial Auditorium, the Fiesta Bowl, and Barclays Center and the Brooklyn Nets, among others.
SeatGeek continues to broaden its reach into primary ticketing while also remaining a major player in the secondary consumer marketplace.
DICE has recently launched in Miami with the announcement of an exclusive ticketing deal with the city’s dance music venue Club Space. “The legendary nightclub hosts hundreds of thousands of music fans per year and is now benefiting from DICE’s fan-first mobile platform that locks tickets to smartphones; eliminates resale and fraudulent tickets; and ensures fair pricing,” says Andrew Foggin, global head of music at DICE.
“We continue to expand across the US, bringing a new way for fans to discover live events and buy tickets securely. In July, we partnered with the legendary Newport Jazz and Folk Festivals, helping bring 50,000 fans to experience the iconic event this year.”
In August, Spotify soft-launched a new website to sell tickets directly to its users, instead of redirecting customers to partner ticketing platforms. The streaming provider enables those with a Spotify account to purchase event tickets via debit or credit card. The tickets are taken from those artists’ presale allocations – which will be Spotify Tickets’ focus, rather than general on-sale inventory.
In August, Spotify soft-launched a new website to sell tickets directly to its users, instead of redirecting customers to partner ticketing platforms.
Consumers are not renewing season tickets or subscriptions at the same rate as they were in pre-pandemic times, which means upfront cash commitments are on the decline. Seemingly due to not only the pandemic but inflation, behaviours have changed and people are less likely to commit to attending events six months out. This is especially true with older audiences in the performing arts.
“It is not that patrons are not attending the arts, but they want to drive their own experiences, choose how and when they consume events, and are more discerning about their choices than ever before,” says Maureen Andersen, president and CEO of the International Ticketing Association (INTIX). “A 75-year-old symphony attendee who has seen a Brahms
Concerto ten times may not want to go again. Will they go when Yo-Yo Ma is playing? Absolutely, but they do not necessarily want a 25-concert subscription where they go to a performance every other Friday night.”
“It is not that patrons are not attending the arts, but they want to drive their own experiences, choose how and when they consume events, and are more discerning about their choices than ever before”
In years past, organisations put shows on sale five or six months out and had a predictable sales pattern. Those days are gone, and sales patterns are now completely different and seemingly unpredictable. Getting tickets closer to an event started pre-pandemic, but that buying behaviour has been exacerbated by the health crisis.
In addition to consumers who find themselves with tighter schedules these days, factors such as local Covid trends, pricing, or what family and friends are doing or want to do are playing a role in ticket purchase timing. Time and data will undoubtedly reveal new trends, but in these times the industry is seeing their highest sales volume beginning just two weeks to ten days from the event.
“This new reality is enough to drive a marketing person insane, and it is about learning a new discipline and not panic pricing”
“This new reality is enough to drive a marketing person insane, and it is about learning a new discipline and not panic pricing. If you are discounting, it needs to be disciplined, however, that is a sales tool that is not being used much right now,” says INTIX’s Andersen.
“Instead, we are seeing dynamic pricing based on demand to maximise revenue, as well as presales, early-bird, and preferred seating offers to incentivise loyal attendees, donors, and season ticket holders. It is all about using any relevant data we do have, and there isn’t a lot these days because analytics from 2019 cannot help accurately predict current buying patterns.”
Secondary ticket sales continue to play an important role in the United States, especially for concerts, festivals, and sports, and they are fully embedded business partners in our industry. The largest marketplaces include SeatGeek, StubHub (owned by Viagogo), VividSeats, and Ticketmaster.
What is changing are the partnerships with leagues, teams, venues, and organisations that want to close the loop with their proprietary systems, allow for easier resales and transfers to eliminate bad actors
What is changing are the partnerships with leagues, teams, venues, and organisations that want to close the loop with their proprietary systems, allow for easier resales and transfers to eliminate bad actors, and maximise revenue internally. In addition, there are still the traditional brick-and- mortar brokers, as well as hundreds of other companies and individuals that operate cottage industries online.
For the future, blockchain continues to move forward with a strong and undeniable value proposition that extends to secondary, however major ticketing companies and businesses are not at this point using it to track resales, guarantee safe delivery, or ensure rights holders profit from those transactions. That said, the technology cannot be discounted, and it is where the future will go.
VALUE OF MARKET
As in past years, the total value of tickets being sold in the United States is not definitively known. There are many factors that could be combined, such as additional revenue from resellers and upgrades, but no single source is bringing together all data points. Countless rescheduled and refunded events from the pandemic, ticket values given as donations, and more only exacerbate the inability to place a value on the market in the near term.
INTERNATIONAL / DOMESTIC SPLITS & GENRES
In the United States, the major genres are music, festivals, professional sports, college athletics, commercial and not-for-profit performing arts, as well as general admission entertainment, including museums and fairs.
DISTRIBUTION OF SALES
The pandemic has brought about rapid adoption of mobile and contactless technologies as well as a quicker move to cashless than was previously anticipated. The march to digital was a slow process pre-pandemic, but the health crisis accelerated that pace to lightning speed, making electronic and mobile delivery now business as usual.
Hard tickets are becoming much more a thing of the past, except for those printed in rare and emergency circumstances.
Hard tickets are becoming much more a thing of the past, except for those printed in rare and emergency circumstances. Commemorative tickets are being offered as an upsell, and there are fans who will pay the price for these cherished souvenirs.
Digital ticketing is also bolstering the data play and allowing organisations to finally understand who is in their seats. This drives their ability to better communicate with all attendees, offer upsells, and add value through upgrades. It is an important step that had long been missing.
TAXES & CHARGES
In the United States, tax on tickets is determined at the state and/or municipal government level, so the rate and/or regulator charge(s) vary depending on location.
On the legislation front, New York State’s new ticket- pricing transparency law goes into effect on 29 August 2022. It requires ticketing companies to display “all-in” pricing, with all fees and charges revealed upfront so that the ticket price does not change during the purchase flow.
Overall, consumers are looking for the best return on their investment in entertainment. It is being driven by the types of experiences they want, and they are willing to pay for those experiences.
“It is the millennials and beyond that you want to reach”
“Customer buying trends are shifting and changing rapidly. For example, boomers are not the primary ticket buyers anymore, so this is not the group to aggressively target with your marketing. It is the millennials and beyond that you want to reach,” says Andersen.
“The younger generations are also looking at the behaviour of the organisations and artists they are giving money to. That is why we are seeing buildings becoming sustainable and performers matching that level of passion and commitment to making our world more welcoming, more accessible, and more equitable. We are seeing a shift to conscious buying for live events of all sizes and types and seeing emerging software to match those behaviours.”