The latest industry news to your inbox.

I'd like to hear about marketing opportunities


I accept IQ Magazine's Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

The decade in live: 2018

The start of a new year and, perhaps more significantly, a new decade is fast approaching – and while many may be thinking ahead to New Year’s Eve plans and well-meaning 2020 resolutions, IQ is casting its mind back to the most pivotal industry moments of the last ten years.

The penultimate edition of IQ’s recap of the past ten years in live music finds the business in rude health, with nearly 60m tickets sold and the top-ten tours alone bringing in more than US$2 billion dollars.

As detailed in our end-of-year 2018 wrap-up, it was also the year when Amazon Tickets threw in the towel, Ticketmaster got out of the secondary ticketing game and MSG announced its next-generation Sphere concept – and the business recovered from the horrors of 2017, when terror attacks in the UK, the US and Turkey, among other places, deliberately targeted music fans.

Elsewhere, new private equity-backed holding company Superstruct Entertainment burst on the scene, snapping up festivals across Europe; AEG and the Madison Square Garden Company called a truce in their tit-for-tat transatlantic dispute over block booking; and the business felt the loss of the likes of pioneering Italian promoter David Zard, APA’s Troy Blakely and artists including Aretha Franklin and Mark E. Smith.


2018 in numbers
The ten biggest touring artists of 2018 brought in a collective $2bn+, with all grossing more than US$100 million each, in a year packed with “remarkable box-office feats”, according to Pollstar’s traditional end-of-year ticket sales chart.

As at mid-year and in Q3, and on the back of a raft of near-instant sell-outs for the 12th leg of his unstoppable ÷ tour, Ed Sheeran was by far the biggest tour of the year, jumping from the eighth spot in 2017 to claim No 1 in 2018. With a gross of $432.4m from 94 shows, the Sheeran tour is the highest gross ever recorded for an artist in a single year, according to the top 100 worldwide tours chart.

According to Pollstar, the ÷ tour is the first to top $400m, and one of only two to gross more than $300m, in a single year  – after U2 in 2017.

Taylor Swift, whose Reputation stadium tour was the highest-grossing in US history, was second, taking $345.1m from fewer dates, but with a higher average ticket price and higher gross per show.

Rounding out the top ten, with tour grosses in US$, were Jay-Z and Beyoncé (On the Run II tour, 254.1m), Pink (Beautiful Trauma world tour, 169.2m), Bruno Mars (24K Magic world tour, 167.6m), Eagles (An Evening with the Eagles, 166m), Justin Timberlake (Man of the Woods tour, 151m), Roger Waters (US + Them tour, 131.3m), U2 (Experience + Innocence tour, 126.2m) and the Rolling Stones (No Filter tour, 116.6m).

In total, the top 100 worldwide tours grossed $5.6bn in 2018, with 59.8m tickets sold.


2018 in brief

Live Nation acquires many of the remaining assets of Songkick, settling out of court a costly legal dispute set to go to trial at the end of the month.

AEG Presents announces the opening of an office in Paris, confirming its expansion into what the company calls “one of Europe’s most important and vibrant markets for live music.”

CTS Eventim buys a 60% stake in Italian concert and festival promoter D’Alessandro e Galli (Di and Gi), in its third acquisition in Italy in the past five months.

IQ reveals London is to get a striking new large-scale music and entertainment venue, MSG Sphere, courtesy of New York’s Madison Square Garden Company.

CTS Eventim’s turnover exceeds €1bn for the first time, after the German live entertainment group reports revenue growth of 24.6% in 2017.

An independent inquiry rules that Manchester Arena operator SMG Europe and security provider Showsec went “above and beyond their roles to provide humanitarian assistance” to victims of the terror attack in May 2017.

The Kerslake report praised SMG and Showsec for their Manchester Arena bomb response
The Kerslake report praised SMG and Showsec for their Manchester Arena bombing response

Figures from across the British live music business tell IQ they are committed to ending the disparity in remuneration received by male and female employees, after all large UK companies publish figures showing their respective gender pay gaps.

FKP Scorpio sells its stake in its two Danish festivals, NorthSide and Tinderbox, for an undisclosed sum to Down the Drain Holding, which now owns 100% of both events.

Grassroots venues and festivals welcome the UK’s new PRS for Music popular music concerts (LP) tariff, after more than three years of negotiations.

Ticketfly is hit by a cyberattack which takes its systems and website offline and leaves 27m accounts compromised.

One hundred and fifty-year-old Scottish venue O2 ABC is left severely damaged after a fire at neighbouring Glasgow School of Art.

In Barcelona, US private-equity firm the Yucaipa Companies acquires a minority stake in Primavera Sound, as Providence Equity Partners’ Superstruct Entertainment acquires rival festival Sónar.

Fullsteam's record-breaking summer came to a close with two sold-out 60,000-cap. shows by Cheek
Fullsteam’s record summer closed with two sold-out 60,000-cap. Cheek shows (© Henri Juvonen)

Finland’s Fullsteam Agency reports its biggest summer to date, welcoming a combined 102,000 people to its Provinssi and Sideways festivals.

Promoters across Europe tell IQ they are owed tens of thousands of euros in deposits for a string of cancelled Phil Rudd dates, with some still waiting for refunds from shows called off as far back as June 2017.

Øya Festival, one of the biggest festivals in Norway, enters into an investment agreement with Superstruct Entertainment, adding a fourth festival brand to the James Barton-led outfit’s expanding roster of European events.

A growing number of unofficial Facebook Events pages are driving unsuspecting buyers towards resale sites, an IQ investigation reveals.

The ‘booking war’ between AEG and Madison Square Garden Company reaches its end, after AEG’s Jay Marciano confirms the company is no longer block-booking its LA Staples Center and London O2 venues.

AEG Presents acquires PromoWest Productions, formerly the largest independent concert business in the American mid-west.

NEC Group's holdings include Birmingham's Resorts World ArenaNEC Group’s holdings include Birmingham’s Resorts World Arena (© NEC Group)

The Blackstone Group, a US investment firm that manages around $440bn worth of assets, acquires the UK’s NEC Group in a deal reportedly worth more than £800m.

Insomniac, the US promoter behind dance music festival powerhouse Electric Daisy Carnival closes a deal to acquire a 50% stake in Dutch rival ALDA Events.

More than a million metal fans try to get tickets for Rammstein’s upcoming European stadium tour, says CTS Eventim, which for the first time sold more than 800,000 tickets in a single on-sale.

Japan’s House of Councillors gets to ready to vote on whether to approve a law criminalising nearly all ticket touting, just over two years after the #ResaleNO campaign first brought the issue to public prominence. The bill is later passed unanimously: 237–0.

Live Nation makes it acquisitions #15 and #16 of 2018, with Switzerland’s Mainland Music and Argentina’s DF Entertainment, respectively, in its most acquisition-heavy year to date.

Dutch investment firm Waterland Private Equity secures a deal to acquire leading Scandinavian promoters ICO (Denmark), Friction and Atomic Soul (Norway), and Maloney Concerts and Blixten and Co (Sweden).


David Zard
Promoter David Zard passed away in early 2018 (© Alessandro Dobici/Saludo Italia)

Who we lost

Compass Group chief executive Richard Cousins, Italian promoter David Zard, APA head of music Troy Blakely, EG Management’s John Gaydon, Tramlines festival director Sarah Nulty, veteran agents Richard Cowley, Harry Miller, Bill Monot and David Apps, Irish promoter John Reynolds, Aloompa’s Jaime Sarrantonio and Slayer manager Nick John, as well as artists Ray Thomas (Moody Blues), Danny Kirwan (Fleetwood Mac), Marty Balin (Jefferson Airplane), Pete Shelley (Buzzcocks), Charles Aznavour, XXXTentacion, Aretha Franklin and Mark E. Smith (the Fall).


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

The decade in live: 2016

The start of a new year and, perhaps more significantly, a new decade is fast approaching – and while many may be thinking ahead to New Year’s Eve plans and well-meaning 2020 resolutions, IQ is casting its mind back to the most pivotal industry moments of the last ten years.

Future historians will likely remember 2016 as a year of political shockwaves – Britain’s vote to leave the European Union and the election of Donald Trump as US president chief among them – but in live music it was very much business as usual, with the world’s biggest artists shifting millions of tickets and the industry continuing the growth trajectory it started in 2013.

But it wasn’t always plain sailing: festival bosses in Europe weathered one of the most turbulent festival seasons in living memory, and promoters and event producers worldwide were left out of pocket for increased security costs following a string of terrorist attacks.

In the ticketing sector, meanwhile, Amazon went up against Ticketmaster with the launch of its own platform, the ultimately unsuccessful Amazon Tickets, while alternative forms of entertainment, such as esports and shows by YouTubers, first began to stake their claim on a slice of the live entertainment pie.

And while Live Nation continued to roll up concert businesses across Europe, North America, Australia and South Africa, Robert Sillerman (the creator of its indirect predecessor, SFX Entertainment) finally threw in the towel with the EDM-focused SFX mkII, beginning a messy divorce that would continue throughout the year and beyond…


2016 in numbers

In 2016, the top 100 global tours grossed a collective US$4.88 billion – up around 4% on 2015, and just shy of the record $5bn recorded in 2013.

According to Pollstar’s traditional year-end chart, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band had the year’s biggest tour, with the Boss raking in a career-best $268.3m in sales from 2.4m tickets. Beyoncé’s Formation world tour was second, with $256.2m from 2.2m tickets sold, and Coldplay third – though the British band’s A Head Full of Dreams trek, which earnt $241m, sold more tickets (2.7m) than anyone else that year.

In total, seven acts grossed more than $100m: the top three plus Guns N’ Roses ($188.4m), Adele ($167.7m), Justin Bieber ($163.3m) and Paul McCartney ($110.6m), with eighth-placed Garth Brooks narrowly missing out with $97m.

Additionally, more than 60m tickets were sold worldwide for the first time since 2013, with consumers buying 60.5m in 2016, up from 59.8m in the previous 12 months.

On the festival side, AEG’s one-off Desert Trip – aka ‘Oldchella’ – set a new single-event world record, grossing $160.1m over two weekends with a blockbuster line-up (see ‘2016 in brief’ below) and tickets starting at $399.


2016 in brief

Tomorrowland announces it will expand again in 2016, this time with a new edition in Spain.

AEG Live’s British Summer Time festival is granted a two-year extension to stay in London’s Hyde Park until 2019.

Robert Sillerman’s SFX Entertainment files for bankruptcy owing estimated US$500 million, mostly to partner promoters and suppliers.

StubHub moves into primary ticketing with a new platform combining primary and secondary markets. Its first client is basketball team the Philadelphia 76ers.

Telecoms company SoftBank makes $250m investment in WME-IMG, allowing the agency to “advance [its] global growth strategy”.

The Rolling Stones perform a historic free concert in Havana, Cuba, later released as concert film Havana Moon.

The Rolling Stones perform in Havana, Cuba
The Rolling Stones perform in Havana on 25 March (© Smwkeywest/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0))

Following recent terror attacks, six major Belgian festivals collectively adopt a number of new security measures ahead of the festival season.

The government of Buenos Aires announces it will cease issuing permits for dance music festivals in the wake of five drug-related deaths at the Time Warp event.

Goldenvoice’s Desert Trip sells out both weekends, thanks to a superstar bill featuring the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Roger Waters, the Who, Neil Young and Paul McCartney.

StubHub expands its reach with the acquisition of global ticket resale platform Ticketbis, which has operations in 47 countries.

The UK votes to leave the European Union, delivering an unwelcome surprise to festival promoters throughout Europe as they finalise preparations for the busy summer ahead.

The global live industry will grow at a rate of 3% through 2020, as live events increase in popularity among smartphone-saturated consumers, reveals PwC’s Global Entertainment and Media Outlook.

The UK voted to leave the EU on 23 June
The UK voted to leave the EU on 23 June (© Bankenverband)

Australian promoter Paul Dainty sells his Dainty Group business to Sydney-based ticketing, touring and data analytics firm TEG.

Over 23m people visited a music festival in the Netherlands (population 17m) in 2015, as attendance grows to all-time high.

France’s minister for culture, Audrey Azoulay, hails the “exceptional” ticket sales for the country’s music festivals this summer, the vast majority of which have seen attendances rise in spite of challenges posed by fear of terrorist attacks.

A hologram of the late Ronnie James Dio makes a surprise appearance at Wacken Open Air festival, thanks to LA-based developer Eyellusion.

Tim Leiweke and Irvin Azoff’s Oak View Group launches Arena Alliance, bringing together 22 North American arenas.

Former Metropolis Music directors Paul Hutton and Conal Dodds launch new UK promoter Crosstown Concerts.

Eyellusion's Dio hologram made its debut at Wacken 2016
The Ronnie James Dio hologram made its debut at Wacken 2016 (© Eyellusion)

Global expands its UK festival footprint to a total of 11 events with the multimillion-pound acquisition of South West Four, Field Day, Boardmasters, Rewind, Y Not and Truck festivals, as well as taking a further stake in Broadwick Live.

Live Nation festival brands Lollapalooza and Download announce plans increase their European presence in 2017 with events in Paris and Madrid, respectively.

The Bataclan in Paris announces plans to reopen earlier than expected with a 12 November show by Sting.

Former AEG Live CEO Randy Phillips is confirmed as the new chief at SFX, which is to be renamed LiveStyle as it emerges from bankruptcy.

Anti-touting campaigners in Italy celebrate after the country’s parliament ratifies legislation to ban the resale of tickets to concerts and other events.

Live Nation’s aggressive acquisition strategy shows no sign of abating, with the company adding big-name festivals to its portfolio in Australia (Splendour in the Grass/Falls Festival) and Sweden (Sweden Rock).


Bianca Freitas

Who we lost

Matthias Müller, founder and president of Baloise Session, Sziget head of international booking Dan Panaitescu, Brazilian promoter Bianca Freitas (pictured), artist manager David Enthoven, Yardbirds manager Giorgio Gomelsky, Nederland Concerts’ Jimmy Nederlander and Manchester music mogul Alan Wise all passed away in 2016.

The year also saw the deaths of two musical icons, in the forms of David Bowie in January and Prince in April, along with Leonard Cohen, George Michael, Eagles’ Glenn Frey and the young British band Viola Beach, who were killed in a car accident, along with their manager, on the way back from Where’s the Music? festival in Sweden.


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

The decade in live: 2014

The start of a new year and, perhaps more significantly, a new decade is fast approaching – and while many may be thinking ahead to New Year’s Eve plans and well-meaning 2020 resolutions, IQ is casting its mind back to the most pivotal industry moments of the last ten years.

While 2013 saw a new generation of artists begin to make an impact on the touring world, 2014 saw one younger act in particular – British pop heartthrobs One Direction – leave their rivals in the dust, dominating the year with their first all-stadia tour.

As IQ’s then-associate editor, Allan McGowan, wrote at the time, “the big artist news over the last 18 months or so has been the incredible success of One Direction – new, young talent breaking all sorts of records”.

The year of 1D came amid a period of increasing consolidation in the business, with companies such as the Agency Group and FKP Scorpio joining the usual suspects of Live Nation, AEG and SFX Entertainment in growing their international portfolios.

Elsewhere, promoters in places like Turkey, Israel, Hong Kong and Thailand were forced to cancel shows because of violent social unrest, while the UK retained its crown as No1 for large venues, with the O2 in London and Phones 4U Arena in Manchester again the most successful in terms of ticket sales.


2014 in numbers
In 2014, the top 100 worldwide tours grossed US$4.24 billion, down from a record $5bn in 2014.

By far the biggest tour of the year was One Direction’s Where We Are, which ran from April to October, earning $278.2m in ticket sales from 69 shows and dwarfing second-placed Justin Timberlake.

The group were tenth in 2013, with $114m in gross ticket sales, and in 2014 became the first non-‘heritage’ act to top the charts in a number of years, following previous top tours by Bon Jovi, Madonna, U2 and the Rolling Stones.

Timberlake’s 20/20 Experience world tour, in support of his third and fourth studio albums, The 20/20 Experience and The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2, respectively, grossed $184.7m from 103 concerts, while the ever-dependable Rolling Stones took the third spot with a $165.1m gross.

Katy Perry, Beyoncé and Jay-Z, and Michael Bublé also all grossed more than $100m, rounding out the global top six.


2014 in brief

Sensible Events chief Andrew Zweck is named as the new European tour coordinator for the Rolling Stones. Zweck takes the role on a consultancy basis for AEG Live, which is handling the Stones’ touring business for the rest of the world.

The Ministry of Sound nightclub’s future is assured, as its owners reach an agreement with property developer Oakmayne over a new block of apartments to be built opposite the iconic London venue.

The Event Safety Alliance makes its Event Safety Guide available. The manual outlines best practice standards for the live event industry and is modelled on the UK’s Purple Guide.

German prosecutors indict ten people on charges including involuntary manslaughter in relation to the Love Parade tragedy that claimed 21 lives and caused injury to 500 others. Four employees of the event’s organiser and six city workers reportedly deny the charges over the incident, which happened in the city of Duisburg in 2010.

In the UK, Birmingham City Council announces that it is selling the NEC Group, which includes the National Exhibition Centre, LG Arena, National Indoor Arena and the Ticket Factory.

New York-based New Age Media Management says it will start using online currency Bitcoin for transactions such as artist fees, stating that the company could make significant savings on banking costs by dealing in the virtual money.

The iconic Ministry of Sound secured its place in London's futureThe iconic Ministry of Sound secured its place in London’s future (© Ministry of Sound Group Limited/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0))

Energy giant SSE buys the naming rights for Wembley Arena in a ten-year deal with venue operators AEG. The building will now be known as the SSE Arena, Wembley.

Live Nation assumes absolute control of Live Nation Japan by acquiring Japanese promoter Creativeman’s minority stake in the company. Financial details were not disclosed but Frank Takeshita leaves Creativeman to become the Live Nation Japan managing director.

British promoter Stuart Galbraith sells a majority stake in his Kilimajaro Live operation to Peter Schwenkow’s DEAG for close to €4m.

William Morris Endeavor Entertainment finalises its acquisition of IMG Worldwide thanks to an investment boost by financiers Silver Lake Partners. Monetary figures are not disclosed.

SFX agrees a five-year deal with secondary ticketing powerhouse Viagogo, reportedly involving a $75m (€55m) sponsorship package and a branded resale marketplace for SFX dance music events around the world.

The Canadian government eliminates its controversial tour tax after complaints that it was hindering foreign artists from performing at small venues in the country.

Wembley Arena became the SSE Arena, Wembley, in 2014Wembley Arena became the SSE Arena, Wembley, in 2014 (© ASM Global)

Secondary ticketing outfit StubHub announces the lay-off of 100 staff, 15% of its workforce.

The Agency Group opens a new office in Miami, Florida, with the appointment of Jeremy Norkin, who will be director of Latin operations.

Four people are killed and at least eight others injured after a flash flood rips through a festival in the town of Refrontolo, Italy.

Live Nation sells its merchandising operation Musictoday to Delivery Agent. The deal involves such accounts as Bonnaroo, the House of Blues and country superstar Tim McGraw.

Philippines-based Music Management International Corporation agrees a joint venture deal with Live Nation to promote shows in the country.

CTS Eventim announces that it has won the business to be the exclusive ticket seller for the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.

Ed Sheeran was the most-streamed artist on Spotify in 2014Ed Sheeran was the most-streamed artist on Spotify in 2014 (© Tom Øverlie, P3.no/Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0))

Sixteen people are killed at an outdoor concert in South Korea when a ventilation grate they are standing on collapses. A safety officer at the festival in Seongnam, near Seoul, becomes the 17th victim a day later when he commits suicide.

A group of nine artist managers, led by Guy Oseary, form a new company called Maverick that will operate as part of Live Nation’s management division.

Ticketmaster acquires the assets of secondary ticketing outfit Seatwave, giving it access to markets in Germany, Italy and Spain. Terms are not disclosed.

Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport is confirmed as the site for Lollapalooza’s debut in Europe. Lollapalooza Berlin will take place 12–13 September 2015, adding to the brand’s existing editions in the US, Argentina, Brazil and Chile.

Organisers of Parklife festival in Manchester, UK, are fined £70,000 after an SMS campaign backfires. Intended as a humorous text, the messages appeared on consumers’ phones from ‘Mum’, upsetting some recipients.

Spotify announces singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran as the year’s most-streamed artist, with more than 860 million tracks streamed through the service, half of which were for his album X.

Peter Grossman, WME© WME Entertainment


Who we lost
Peter Grosslight (pictured), global head of music for WME (68), and sound designer Derrick Zieba (59), known for his work with ILMC and the Brit Awards, both passed in 2014. Other notable industry deaths included the (Small) Faces’ Ian McLagan, AAArtists agency’s Arthur Shafman, Avalon Attractions founder Gary Perkins, singer Joe Cocker and Cream legend Jack Bruce.


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.