Economist Will Page unwraps the touring bounceback
Economist Will Page says the live sector is “winning attention in the experience economy” after revealing that UK music fans spent £2.1 billion (€2.4bn) on gig tickets last year.
The author and former chief economist for Spotify and PRS for Music presented his latest groundbreaking research last month.
Writing in Music Business Worldwide, he reported that the volume of live music events in the UK was down 26% from 2019 to 2022, but the amount spent on tickets was up 22% in the same period – surpassing £2bn for the first time – while spend on recorded music also exceeded £2bn.
“What we’re seeing is akin to a productivity gain: getting more (box office spend) from less (concerts),” said Page. “That could be driven by supply (higher ticket prices) or demand (preferences for bigger events). Inflation will have a role to play, too.”
Page also found that music in the UK stadiums and festivals now make up half of all box office spend, compared to 40% in 2019 and just 23% in 2012.
“While 2022 still provided multiple challenges, as does 2023, the appetite for that unique, communal gig going experience is clear”
In response to the findings, Jon Collins, CEO of trade body LIVE, tells IQ it is “fantastic to see the enormous demand for live music across the UK”.
“While 2022 still provided multiple challenges, as does 2023, the appetite for that unique, communal gig going experience is clear,” says Collins. “Working together and with government, we have an opportunity to grow further and faster. As part of that, it is critical we support our grassroots venues, festivals and, of course, the artists themselves. A vibrant and diverse range of venues located across our towns and cities will give artists the chance to establish a career and fans the opportunity to develop that gig-going habit.”
Here, IQ sits down for a Q&A with Page to delve deeper into his analysis – and gets his future forecast…
How did your findings compare with your expectations going in?
“It felt like there was a lot of ‘stoked up’ demand from the consumers who had suffered during the pandemic, as well as ‘stoke up’ supply from bands who couldn’t tour during lockdown. I was confident UK box office spend in 2022 was going to surpass 2019, but didn’t honestly expect the figure to begin with a ‘two’ – that is £2.1 billion! At the same time, spending on recorded music passed the £2bn threshold. So I expected a bounce back, but the scale of the bounce was unexpected.”
In your opinion, how sustainable is the level of business reported?
“There’s headwinds (namely inflation and interest rates) and there’s tailwinds (innovation in production and ticketing) to consider but I’m confident the sector is sustainable. Live music is constantly ‘upping its game’ in the experience economy. I was at The Weeknd at London Stadium and you could see the diverse 80,000 strong audience opted for this experience over so many other options – be it Netflix or going abroad. Live is winning attention in the experience economy.”
“UK gig-goers spent more on stadiums and festivals in 2022 than they did on all of live music in 2012”
Given that stadiums and festivals have more than doubled their box office shares, where does that leave the rest of the sector?
“To add some more colour to this observation, UK gig-goers spent more on stadiums and festivals in 2022 than they did on all of live music in 2012. But, we have to be careful with knee jerk reactions here – especially when people argue the explosion in stadium shows is at the expense of the grassroots. The majority of those fans who went to see Coldplay at stadiums, I don’t think they would be interested in going to Camden on a wet winter night to support the grassroots. But we’re also talking about a bigger overall pie than there was a few years ago.
“If you accept this point, then what we’re witnessing is something I explore in my book Pivot Eight Principles for Transforming your Business, which is that customers are interested in the thrill of a bargain (Spotify at £9.99 a month) the thrill of a luxury (Coldplay at £119 a ticket) but not what’s left in between. I think you can see this everywhere, be it how we shop (those who shop at Aldi and Waitrose) or buy flights (fly with EasyJet and Virgin Atlantic).
“But to reiterate the demand-side point, I don’t think this explosion in demand for stadium shows is stealing business away from the grassroots. Sure, there’s a dependency issue to explore on the supply-side on the need for grassroots to generate headliners of tomorrow. Protecting those stages is as important as ever and beyond the scope of the research here. There’s certainly some ‘knocking of heads’ to be done between promoters, streaming services and labels.”
“We really are in uncharted waters where an artist like Wizkid – who is definitely not a household name – is selling out the state-of-the-art Tottenham Hotspur Stadium”
What do you consider to be the biggest opportunities and threats for the market at this point?
“I think this ‘gin and tonic’ relationship between spending more on subscriptions and then spending even more on live music is so intriguing and really needs unpacking. The chart below paints a picture, let me add some ‘tone’ as it’s worth asking a few ‘what if’s?’
“What if growth in music subscribers were to stall this year, would that lead to a negative knock on effect for live music?
What if the ‘mental budgeting’ meant consumers were to cut their music budget, either unsubscribing or reducing their gig-going frequency?
What if one of the large DSPs were to go all in with a promoter and bundle subscription and ticketing?
When I watch what Dice is doing, I think a lot about this.”
Your 2022 forecast was on the money; what are your predictions for 2023?
“Bigger, and more stadium-heavy! I’m going to ask IQ readers to think long and hard about this headline More than 1 million attend London concerts in a week. That’s insane! We really are in uncharted waters where an artist like Wizkid – who is definitely not a household name – is selling out the state-of-the-art Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. I think those headlines are going to become the rule, not the exception, across the UK in 2024.”
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New report details UK’s £6.6bn music tourism boost
A new report by UK Music highlights the economic impact of the post-Covid return of touring, as 14.4 million music tourists helped generate £6.6 billion (€7.7bn) in spending.
The trade body’s Here, There and Everywhere study reveals that total attendance at UK music events in 2022 was 37.1m (30.6m concerts/6.5m festivals), with the number of music tourists totalling 13.3m domestic (defined as fans who have travelled more than three times an average commute) and 1.1m foreign.
Music tourism spend covers both direct and indirect spend, including ticket sales, food and beverage sales, merchandise, venue parking, camping fees, accommodation, travel, and additional spending outside of venues while visiting the UK for a live music event, as well as spending indirectly supported by such businesses’ supply chain.
“Music is one of our country’s great assets – not only is it absolutely critical to the economic success of our local areas, but it also generates huge amounts of soft power and helps put our towns and cities on the global map,” says UK Music CEO Jamie Njoku-Goodwin.
“In 2022, music pulled more than 14 million tourists into local areas and supported £6.6 billion of spending in local economies across the UK. This is testament to just how important a thriving musical ecosystem is for our towns and cities.
“But while music generates huge benefits for our local areas, the infrastructure and talent pipeline that it relies on still faces huge challenges. With a venue closing every week, one in six festivals not returning since the pandemic, and many studios facing huge economic pressures, it’s vital that we protect the musical infrastructure that does so much for our towns and cities.”
“Post-pandemic, the role of music in transformative placemaking is more important than ever”
Total employment sustained by music tourism in 2022 –the first full year of post-pandemic festivals, gigs and concerts in the UK – was 56,000.
A key part of the report, meanwhile, focuses on the action that towns and cities across the UK can take to use music to help boost their local economies and support jobs.
A special toolkit contained in the study outlines how local authorities and others can utilise existing funding and spaces to help music thrive across the UK, and includes four recommendations for local councils on how to build their own music communities.
“Post-pandemic, the role of music in transformative placemaking is more important than ever – and this report provides a valuable toolkit for local authorities to help them seize the benefits of being a ‘music city’,” adds Njoku-Goodwin.
“By harnessing the power of music, nations and regions across the UK can generate thousands more jobs, boost economic growth and attract even more visitors to the local area. This report shows how to turn that potential into reality.”
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DEAG posts record-breaking revenue for 2022
Deutsche Entertainment (DEAG) is hailing “enormous recovery and growth” after reporting the highest revenue and EBITDA in the company’s 45-year history.
The German live entertainment company saw revenue in the 2022 financial year increase 258.3% to around €325 million, compared to €90.7m in the previous year and €185.2m in the pre-corona year 2019, according to preliminary figures.
EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) surged 40.3% to around €31m, compared to €22.1m in the previous year and €14.1m in 2019.
DEAG attributes the strong performance to a number of factors including the recovery of live entertainment, the expansion of its event pipeline, successful M&A activities and the further expansion of ticketing.
In addition, the companies acquired by DEAG since 2019 – such as Regular Music, tickets.ie. platform, Indian Spirit, Classic Open Air and Airbeat One. – also made a “significant contribution” to the good performance for the first full year.
Group revenue before consolidation amounted to approx. €352m in financial year 2022, compared to approx. €97m in the previous year and approx. €197m in financial year 2019.
The company has also considerably increased its ticket sales, having sold nine million tickets in the financial year 2022, compared to around five million in the years prior to the pandemic.
“The enormous recovery and growth in revenue and EBITDA well above the level of the last comparable financial year 2019, a rock-solid balance sheet and a consistently implemented growth strategy characterised the year 2022 for DEAG,” says Professor Peter L.H. Schwenkow, CEO of DEAG.
DEAG says it is expecting 2023 to be another record-breaking year in the company’s history
“Our expansion measures, which we continued unwaveringly during the corona caesura, are bearing fruit. We will continue to move forward along this path. We sell ‘the little slice of happiness’ even in economically difficult times and have always seen particularly high demand, especially in recession years.
“With an increasing number of their own branded and thus also high-margin event formats, an organisation and crew created for growth and ticketing that is growing steadily and with good margins, we can be confident for the years ahead. With the tailwind of strong annual figures and a very positive operating performance, we also see ourselves very well prepared for the upcoming refinancing of our corporate bond as well as the further consistent implementation of the corporate strategy.”
DEAG says it is expecting 2023 to be another record-breaking year in the company’s history. With more than 6,000 events in the pipeline, the company is aiming to sell around 10,000,000 tickets.
Since the beginning of this year, the company has already promoted sold-out events such as Ed Sheeran at The O2, Disney on Ice, events with award-winning filmmaker and bestselling author Quentin Tarantino, the international literature festival lit.COLOGNE and the world’s most successful dance show Riverdance.
DEAG says several acquisitions are in the pipeline and that it plans to intensify its M&A activities in the second half of 2023, with a particular focus on the ticketing segment.
The Berlin-based promoter and ticket agency has interests in Germany, Great Britain, Switzerland, Ireland and Denmark. Its group includes Kilimanjaro Group (UK), Wizard Promotions (DE), UK Live, My Ticket (DE, AT, UK) and Belladrum Tartan Heart festival (UK).
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HYBE reports best-performing quarter yet
HYBE (formerly Big Hit Entertainment) has published its financial results for Q2 of 2022, heralding its best-performing quarter yet.
The South Korea-based entertainment giant reported revenue of KRW 512 billion (USD 391 million) in the second quarter of 2022, up 79.7% from the first quarter of this year. While operating income hit KRW 88bn for the three months prior to 30 June.
The record-breaking revenue came from Hybe artists’ album sales, promotion, and concerts, as well as merchandise and IP licensing.
HYBE’s roster of artists includes K-pop superstars BTS, Seventeen, TXT, Enhypen, Le Sserafim, NewJeans and more.
Performances from BTS and Seventeen were major drivers in pushing HYBE’s concert revenue to KRW 85bn (USD 65m) – up 38.6% quarter on quarter.
In February, BTS brought a four-night residency, called Permission to Dance On Stage, to the 65,000-capacity Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.
All four dates were broadcast live at the nearby MGM Grand Garden Arena, in what was dubbed a ‘live play’ event, while the final day of their residency was streamed online worldwide.
Performances from BTS and Seventeen were major drivers in pushing HYBE’s concert revenue to KRW 85bn
Seventeen, meanwhile, helped boost HYBE’s concert revenue with two dates at Seoul’s Gocheok Sky Dome (cap. 25,000) in mid-June. These performances were also livestreamed to global audiences.
However, Hybe’s biggest revenue driver in Q2 was its ‘Artist Direct Involvement’ business, which generated revenues of KRW 326bn (USD 249m), up 153.4% year on year.
HYBE’s second biggest revenue source in Q2 was album sales, driven by releases in the quarter from the likes of BTS and Seventeen.
The company’s album sales grew 97.1% YoY, from KRW 107bn (USD 82m) in Q2 2021 to KRW 211bn (USD 161m) in Q2 2022.
HYBE revenues from merchandising and licensing also soared in Q2, by 97.2% YoY, from KRW 50bn (USD 38m) in Q2 2021, to 99 bn KRW (USD 75m) in Q2 2022.
Revenues from HYBE’s ‘Contents’ business, meanwhile, fell 22.6% YoY to KRW 71bn (USD 54m). HYBE also reveals within its investor filing that Monthly Active Users of its fan-community app WeVerse fell by 6% versus Q1 2022.
The WeVerse app, which collates content made by and for HYBE artists such as music videos, teasers, movies, merch sales and even live streams, has been cited by the company as one of the key drivers behind its success during the pandemic.
In spite of seeing its WeVerse MAUs decline, HYBE’s revenues derived from its ‘Fan club etc’ business line grew 96% YoY to KRW 17bn (USD 13m).
Live Nation to host 6m fans across UK this summer
Live Nation UK is on track for its biggest outdoor season ever, with the promoter saying it will host nearly six million fans at live shows this summer.
According to LN, four million people will attend one of its festivals or outdoor events, while close to two million will attend an indoor show.
After welcoming a total of 200,000 fans to the new Creamfields South in Hylands Park, Chelmsford and Liam Gallagher’s two-night stand at Knebworth (cap. 80,000) over the Queen’s Jubilee weekend, the company went on to attract hundreds of thousands of people to its Download and Parklife festivals this past weekend.
Staged over three days, Download saw headline sets from Kiss, Iron Maiden, Biffy Clyro at Donington Park, while Manchester’s two-day Parklife featured headliners 50 Cent, Chase & Status, Tyler, The Creator and Bicep at Heaton Park.
“This will be a summer to remember”
“It is wonderful to see fans reunited with the artists they love, and new bands forging their futures,” says Denis Desmond, chairman Live Nation UK and Ireland. “This will be a summer to remember.”
Live Nation is organising more than 100 events this summer, including tours by the likes of Harry Styles, Lady Gaga, Eagles, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Billie Eilish over the next few weeks. In Scotland, meanwhile, it reports that 24% of the population will attend a DF Concerts show or festival this summer.
Although certain other UK promoters report more mixed fortunes, there have been positive signs internationally. Austria’s Nova Rock became the latest festival to report a record sell-out, while Germany’s Rock am Ring recently announced that a record 90,000 weekend tickets had sold for its 2022 edition. Elsewhere, twin festival Rock im Park shifted more than 70,000 tickets and Belgium’s Rock Werchter and Brazil’s Rock in Rio sold out in record time.
Live Nation boss Michael Rapino recently said the company’s Q1 business “greatly surpassed” expectations after delivering its best Q1 performance ever.
Its Ticketmaster division reported sales of 70 million tickets for its 2022 concerts – up 36% compared to the same point in 2019, and Rapino said all leading indicators pointed towards double-digit growth and fan attendance for LN over the course of the year.
Goldenvoice details new San Francisco festival
Goldenvoice has revealed details of a brand new festival called Portola, coming to the US city of San Francisco this autumn.
Portola is slated to take place on 24 and 25 September at Pier 80, a 60-acre shipyard that boasts SF’s largest cargo terminal.
The Chemical Brothers and Flume will headline the festival, while Kaytranada, Jamie xx, Jungle, Charli XCX, James Blake and M.I.A are among the supporting cast.
The festival, which is organised in association with local event management company Non Plus Ultra, is scheduled only a month and a half after Outside Lands 2022 and a week before Hardly Strictly Bluegrass – both of which draw hundreds of thousands of fans to the city.
Portola’s name is reportedly a reference to the Portola Festival of 1909, which signalled a reopening of the city after the 1906 earthquake and drew an estimated one million people to its opening parade.
In the US, Goldenvoice produces several festivals, most notably Coachella, as well as operating 14 mid-sized venues and promoting over 1,800 shows per year.
AEG’s Jim King: ‘Fans will expect more in 2022’
AEG Presents CEO of European Festivals Jim King says the live business will need to “up its game” in 2022 to meet fans’ raised expectations.
Though heartened by the success of the festivals that managed to go ahead in late summer ’21 following the Covid washout of the previous summer, the leading exec advises the bar will be set higher for the coming season.
“We must be careful,” he tells IQ. “The emergence from multiple lockdowns created a unique demand that is unlikely to repeat in the same way.
“Fans will expect more in 2022 than they accepted in 2021. We will see an increasing upturn in expectation from fans as the year plays out and they have been to more and more shows and there will be a need for the industry to up its game to keep fans attending and buying more tickets in the later part of the year.”
“For some artists and events, 2022 has a risk of being a hangover from the pandemic rather than the strong return the industry needs”
Highlighting the potential problems for tours and festivals over the next 12 months, King points to the number of headline tours rescheduled from 2020/21 into 2022 – an issue set to be further exacerbated by the ongoing disruption to the circuit in Q1 ’22.
“Many of the sales cycles sit on top of each other and in many cases, also sit on top of the festivals that the artist is also appearing on,” he says. “Ultimately, tour and festival announcements need to be carefully coordinated, but if an artist normally sells 5,000 tickets in a market per cycle, then packaging 10,000 or more tickets around a festival play all in the same market in one year is going to be a challenge, and some artists and events will suffer.
“At some point there is likely to be fatigue between fans and certain artists, resulting in some events experiencing lower sales and/or higher non-attendance. If not managed, then for some artists and events, 2022 has a risk of being a hangover from the pandemic rather than the strong return the industry needs.”
AEG’s flagship UK concert series, BST Hyde Park, was cancelled for the second year in succession in 2021, but will return with a bumper line-up this summer. The London-based festival is to take place across two weeks from 24 June to 10 July, with concerts from Elton John (24 June), Eagles (26 June), Duran Duran (10 July), Pearl Jam (8–9 July) and, in a huge coup, Adele (1–2 July).
“With the volume of shows in play, fans will not respond favourably if their expectations are not being met”
The promoter’s All Points East staple was able to take place in London’s Victoria Park last August and its 2022 edition is set over two weekends from 19-20 and 25-28 August with headliners Gorillaz, The Chemical Brothers, Tame Impala, The National and Disclosure.
AEG’s French festival, Rock en Seine (ReS), meanwhile, has swelled to a four-day format and will be headlined by Stromae, Tame Impala and Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds from 25–28 August in Domaine National de Saint-Cloud.
King has previously explained the company paused its pre-pandemic plans for new events in favour of focusing on rejuvenating established festivals. But as the industry gears up for its first proper summer season since 2019, he retains high hopes of a strong return.
“Overall, I am positive for the summer,” concludes King. “AEG has a fantastic series of festivals on sale with amazing headliners, but the ball is in our court to deliver great fan experiences, and with the volume of shows in play, fans will not respond favourably if their expectations are not being met.”
Read the full interview with King in IQ 107, out now.
IQ 107 out now: Industry heads map the road ahead
IQ 107, the latest issue of the international live music industry’s favourite monthly magazine, is available to read online now.
In the January 2022 edition, industry leaders from around the world share their thoughts about the state of the industry and the recovery of the sector, over the coming weeks and months.
Elsewhere, the IQ news team looks back at the trends, deals, events and, of course, the Covid restrictions that made the headlines during 2021.
On page 34, IQ Magazine editor Gordon Masson explores the benefits that blockchain technology can offer the live music industry.
For this edition’s columns and comments, Wayne Forte details the process behind producing his critically acclaimed Mad Dogs & Englishmen documentary, and Richard Davies urges the industry to adopt a more strategic approach in its efforts to beat ticket touts.
And, in this month’s Your Shout, Dan Steinberg (Emporium Presents), Rob Challice (Paradigm), Mark Davyd (Music Venue Trust) and Nick Hobbs (Charmenko) describe their best moments of 2021.
As always, the majority of the magazine’s content will appear online in some form in the next four weeks.
However, if you can’t wait for your fix of essential live music industry features, opinion and analysis, click here to subscribe to IQ for just £5.99 a month – or check out what you’re missing out on with the limited preview below:
Leading live execs share their hopes for 2022
Industry leaders have spoken to IQ about their biggest hopes and fears for the live business in 2022.
With the Omicron variant looking sure to disrupt the touring calendar for at least the first few months of the new year, the next 12 months are clouded with uncertainty. But speaking as part of a special feature in the new issue of the magazine, a raft of the sector’s leading lights have shared their optimism that better times are ahead.
“The pandemic fatigue will lead to full recovery of the live industry, but it will come with its ups and downs,” predicts Lucy Dickins, co-head of music at WME. “It’s certainly going to be a crowded marketplace. There is a huge backlog of touring due to the amount of new artists we have been breaking through and also the artists that have released multiple projects in the world where being on the road was halted.”
Dickins’ clients include Adele, who returned with her fourth studio LP 30 last year and will headline two sold-out nights at AEG’s BST Hyde Park festival in the summer.
“I also think we’ll see more traditional songs and artist albums return,” adds Dickins. “We are already beginning to see this with a few big artists, as during the pandemic there were far less collaborations.”
The agent, who also represents the likes of Mumford & Sons and Mabel, expects technology to play an even bigger part in artist campaigns moving forward.
“TikTok is definitely having a moment with more artists using the platform, but I think we’ll see a rise in other mediums over time,” she says. “The metaverse has already made its mark on the music industry. I think we will see more in 2022. Roblox and Fortnite have millions of daily active users who have been living the avatar life for some time. I’m slowly getting my head around it all!”
“We will get through this, but it will be tricky for a while longer”
Following a “rocky” conclusion to 2021, CAA Emma Banks anticipates an even “rockier” opening to 2022.
“Clearly, the continuing lockdowns in various European markets are bad for business, and even when venues are allowed to remain open, we are seeing a high level of absence at shows, where people are no longer feeling confident to go out. So business is going to be tough because we are going to lose more shows, and that is bad for everyone,” she says.
“I assume that as the population gets vaccinated with a third shot, we will then see case numbers reduce and can get back to the place we have been in the last few months, with shows happening and everyone out and about again. We will get through this, but it will be tricky for a while longer, and the 2022 bounce back looks like it is going to take longer than we hoped.”
LIVE group chair Phil Bowdery, Live Nation’s executive president of touring, international, strikes an optimistic note.
“I think we’ve all learnt that the industry stands ready to deal with any bumps in the road, and the calendar looks great well into 2022 and 2023,” he concludes. “Whatever comes our way, I think 2022 is going to be a bumper year, and I can’t wait.”
Co-Head of UTA’s UK office Neil Warnock naturally has reservations regarding Q1, but is confident the business will burst into life come spring.
“The first three months of 2022 may be chaotic,” he advises. “The new variant has sent yet another curve ball through the whole of our live industry. We had hoped that the end of 2021 would see the start of a new normality in 2022. However, I’m hopeful that by April we’ll be back to business, and the business will be huge. We will have bursting box offices, and I look forward to a massive festival season from late May onwards.”
The full interviews will be published in the new issue of IQ, which is out later this month.
Angus Baskerville to launch new indie agency
Angus Baskerville, the longstanding 13 Artists director and booking agent is moving to new independent agency Pure from 1 January 2022.
The move was announced in an email circulated this afternoon. Others CC’d on the email with a Pure Represents email address include Simon O’ Neill, Brooke Rayner, Hayley Morrison and Aimee Burn – all of whom were previously known to be working for 13 Artists.
Artist manager and Baskerville’s wife Jodie Harkins was also copied in on the email with a Pure Represents email address.
After working as an artist manager and in A&R at London Records, Baskerville joined 13 Artists as an agent in 2004, becoming a partner in 2010. In 2019, Baskerville opened a second 13 Artists office in London, at Tileyard Studios.
Speaking to IQ last year, he said: “I do believe the independent sector has the possibility of thriving in 2021 and beyond, as we’re required to modernise and refresh approaches to the way we work – and do that quickly.”
IQ has contacted Baskerville for comment.