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Local promoters hail record Ed Sheeran sales

Local, independent promoters have spoken to IQ about how they’re breaking ground in their markets with record ticket sales for Ed Sheeran’s 2024 European tour.

The European leg of Sheeran’s + – = ÷ x (Mathematics) Tour is due to kick off on 8 June 2024 in Italy, making 20 stops at a mix of stadiums and festivals across the continent.

The first stadium stop on the AEG Presents promoted-outing will be at Ta’ Qali National Park (cap. 30,000), marking the 32-year-old’s first-ever concert in Malta.

According to one of the show’s local promoters, Nigel Camilleri at NNG Promotions, the 26 June 2024 concert has broken “all records” in the island country.

“The number of tickets in an hour, total number of ticket sales in one day, as well as total gross amount of ticket sales in an hour and in a day,” lists Camilleri, who is promoting the gig alongside AEG and Greatt.

“Hopefully, this will open more doors which were previously closed or only ajar”

“The adrenaline rush when the ticket sales opened was indescribable,” he continues. “It’s not often, at least in Malta, that one gets to promote a concert of an artist who appeals to such a wide-ranging audience.”

Camilleri says hosting a star of Sheeran’s size helps to put Malta – which is isolated from mainland Europe – on the map for other blockbuster tours.

“It is a great triumph for us because we have proven that the Maltese market can sustain an A-level artist such as Ed Sheeran,” he adds. “We have been working towards and building up to this moment for many years and admittedly there was an element of luck with the stars aligning for it to happen.

“As a company, it is a major feather in our cap and hopefully, this will open more doors which were previously closed or only ajar.”

Bulgarian promoter FEST Team is also hoping the success of Sheeran’s show at Vasil Levski Stadium in Sofia (31 August) will be a calling card for other A-list artists.

“[We hope] more prominent artists will acknowledge Bulgaria as a substantial market with tour potential”

“Our aspiration is that the success of this event will encourage more prominent artists to acknowledge Bulgaria and the Balkan region as a substantial market with tour potential,” FEST Team’s Stefan Elenkov tells IQ.

The Sofia-based full-service promoter sold all 60,000 tickets to the Bulgaria date in the first 24 hours of the on-sale. It beat the previous record set in 2009 by Madonna who sold 19,000 tickets in the first 24 hours for a 55,000-capacity show.

“This indeed is a truly remarkable achievement,” says Elenkov. “It is important to mention that a show of this magnitude hasn’t taken place in Bulgaria since 2009.”

Staging the biggest-ever concert in Bulgaria, which is yet to be included in the Schengen Area, hasn’t been without its challenges but Elenkov says his team has been “excited to embrace them”.

“After dedicating eight months to negotiations and detailed planning, we managed to successfully overcome various infrastructural and logistic challenges associated with the venue,” says Elenkov.

“Ticket Station Bulgaria is handling a show of such magnitude for the first time and has met the tour’s criteria”

“Anticipating Bulgaria and Romania’s inclusion in the Schengen area, we expect even fewer logistical challenges, making future tour planning considerably more structured. The routing Budapest – Bucharest – Sofia – Athens—would essentially become practically borderless.”

Another source of pride for FEST Team is the reported absence of tickets for Sheeran’s Bulgaria date on Viagogo.

“This demonstrates our success in implementing stringent security measures, ensuring that only real people have bought tickets for the show,” adds Elenkov. “This marks an important milestone – Ticket Station Bulgaria is handling a show of such magnitude for the first time and has precisely met the tour’s criteria.”

Sheeran’s team has long taken an aggressive stance against the secondary ticketing market, opting to use 100% mobile digital ticketing technology to keep tickets in the hands of fans.

The tour’s local promoters in Lithuania also have a lot to celebrate after sales for Sheeran’s two 2024 dates in the country broke “all previous entertainment sales records” across the Baltic states.

“By selling the most tickets of any artist in the Baltics, Sheeran has set yet another record”

According to L Tips Agency – which is organising Sheeran’s concerts in the Baltics for the third time – the first concert sold out in just over 24 hours the second is already more than 50% sold out, nine months in advance.

Provided both dates in Lithuania sell out, Sheeran will perform to 90,000 fans across the 3 and 4 August at Darius and Girėnas Stadium in Kaunas.

“In 2019, he set the record for the most visited international artist show of all time in Latvia with an attendance of approximately 50,000 people,” says Gints Putnins, owner of L Tips Agency. “Now a new record has been set for the whole of the Baltics!”

The Agency, which is one of the largest independent promoters in the Baltic States, is promoting the concert alongside FKP Scorpio.

Folkert Koopmans, founder & CEO of FKP Scorpio, adds: “By selling the most tickets of any artist in the Baltics, Ed Sheeran has set yet another record. We’re proud and happy to be promoting the shows and couldn’t have done so without the support of all local stakeholders and our partner agencies. L Tips Agency’s work has been invaluable in making the second-ever music concert in Kaunas stadium possible. We’re already looking forward to seeing everything coming together in August 2024!”

The 32-year-old’s forthcoming Dubai concerts could become the best-selling shows in UAE history

Sheeran’s record-breaking streak doesn’t stop at independent promoters, nor does it stop in Europe. As previously reported in IQ, the 32-year-old’s forthcoming Dubai concerts could become the best-selling shows in UAE history, according to All Thing Live Middle East CEO Thomas Ovesen.

The British singer-songwriter is due to play the Sevens Stadium from 19-20 January 2024 in what are being called the largest open-air concerts ever to take place in Dubai.

The dates, which will see Sheeran perform “in the round”, will be his first in the Middle East since playing at the city’s Autism Rocks Arena in November 2017, which attracted a sell-out 23,272 crowd.

Last month, Sheeran concluded the North American leg of his Mathematics tour, with the final date on 28 October at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Sheeran is represented by Marty Diamond and Ash Lewis at Wasserman for US and Canada, and Jon Ollier at One Finiix Live for the rest of the world.


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Global Promoters Report: The Baltic States

In the Baltics, a region caught between rock and a hard place, the live music business is reportedly booming. “The market in the Baltic States recovered from the pandemic very quickly,” says Renatas Načajus, partner at ISEG in Vilnius. “Most of the events that were rescheduled had bigger ticket sales than we usually would have before the pandemic.”

ISEG are toasting recent successes with tours around Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania by OneRepublic, James Arthur, LP, and GusGus among others, and they’re not alone. Top Baltic promoters such as Medusa Concert, L Tips, and 8 Days A Week have all benefited from a post-pandemic bounce- back, while Live Nation has seen a roaring trade for shows by Slipknot, Dua Lipa, Sting, Eurovision breakout sensation Måneskin, and Rammstein, who sold a mammoth 66,000 tickets at the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds in July.

“We see bigger demand for arena and stadium shows after the pandemic,” says Live Nation’s Deividas Afarjanc. “There is a strong demand for foreign shows, with significant sales power in all three markets. People are willing to come back to live shows. The biggest challenge is to get artists here, as demand is much higher than they have available dates on tour.”

“We believe that we‘ve emerged much stronger out of pandemic trenches,” says longstanding industry stalwart Giedrius Klimašauskas, MD of Stay Live, a talent buyer that operates through promotion sister companies including Bravo Events. This year, he’s celebrated sell-outs for shows by Calum Scott and Andrea Bocelli, as well as Lithuania’s 1000 Lanterns and 20,000-capacity Granatos Live festivals, and noticed a swift expansion in the market. “We are monitoring higher expenditures for leisure spending comparing to previous years, even prior to the pandemic.”

“Events that were right after the war started had a huge drop in ticket sales, and a lot of people did not attend events even though they had tickets purchased”

Demand is clearly through the roof in all three countries, although Klimašauskas notes slightly contracted markets in Estonia and Latvia compared to Lithuania, which opened up sooner and provided greater support for musicians. But there have also been surprising, and surprisingly positive, effects of the Ukrainian war on the local music scenes, too.

Initially the invasion put international acts off touring the region – usually a standard European stop-off between Finland and Poland – and fans from attending shows. “Events that were right after the war started had a huge drop in ticket sales, and a lot of people did not attend events even though they had tickets purchased in advance,” says Načajus. But, as it became clear that the war wouldn’t spread to the Baltics, demand for tickets rocketed, and an influx of young people fleeing the turmoil in neighbouring countries has created strong local fanbases for visiting acts from Ukraine and Belarus.

Older rock bands have seen a drop-off in the Baltics over 2022, and the region isn’t immune to the rising production costs caused by the exodus of technical personnel during the pandemic. “Production companies have lost quite a number of their people during the pandemic, therefore the prices for production services have skyrocketed,” says Klimašauskas. “In many cases, production costs have doubled, and the quality of the service has decreased. It’s the same for security, catering, hotels, marketing. It‘s a very painful reality in that sense, to see this service-quality deflation.”

Despite such challenges, the Baltics remain very favourable markets for visiting international stars and rising acts alike. International rap, electronic, and pop acts have proven strong, often thanks to the accessibility of relatively cheap TV advertising to complement digital, billboard, and radio campaigns. The region’s premier showcase festival, Tallinn Music Week, helps nurture a solid flow of fresh rising talent, particularly from the rap scene. And with the market in ascendence as it heads towards income parity with the EU, and healthy competition between promoters opening up castles, botanical gardens, and museums across the region as occasional music venues, the major promoters all expect strong growth over the coming years. Having weathered the worst of the storm, the Baltic future looks bright.


The Global Promoters Report is published in print, digitally, and all content is also available as a year-round resource on the IQ site. The Global Promoters Report includes key summaries of the major promoters working across 40+ markets, unique interviews and editorial on key trends and developments across the global live music business.To access all content from the current Global Promoters Report, click here.