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Australia’s live event industry lost $1.4bn in 2020

Covid-19 stripped Australia’s live entertainment industry of AUS$1.4 billion in revenue during 2020, a new report has found.

Following record years in 2018 and 2019, the pandemic had a “devastating impact” on the live sector, according to Live Performance Australia’s Ticket Attendance and Revenue Report.

The ticketing data shows close to 70% of revenue and attendance was obliterated after the industry was shut down in March last year.

In 2020, the number of tickets issued to live performance events fell by 68% to under eight million, ticket sales revenue fell by 69% to $600m, and the average ticket price fell from $92.89 to $87.14.

Live Performance Australia’s chief executive, Evelyn Richardson, says: “EY’s analysis of 2019 and 2020 data clearly shows the massive hit the live entertainment industry took in 2020.

“Ongoing restrictions, lockdowns and border closures caused significant disruption to an industry heavily reliant on national touring. These are stark numbers.”

“Ongoing restrictions, lockdowns and border closures caused disruption to an industry heavily reliant on national touring”

The report breaks down live entertainment into categories: contemporary music, music theatre, festivals (contemporary music), theatre, festivals (multi-category), circus and physical theatre, comedy, classical music, opera, children’s/family, ballet and dance, and special events.

Contemporary Music, a category that includes rock, pop and hip-hop concerts, remained the biggest category, accounting for over 50% total revenue of live performance at $309m and 37% of attendances (nearly 3 million).

However, the sector experienced an overall decline of 63% in revenue and 65% in attendance between 2019 and 2020.

Contemporary music festivals drew nearly 437,500 people in 2020, generating over $54.2m from ticket sales.

However, the category suffered a staggering 70% loss in both attendance and revenue compared to 2019, due to bans on mass gatherings, border closures and density limits introduced as part of Covid-19.

Major festivals in this category in 2020 were Falls Downtown, WOMADelaide and St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival.

Contemporary music festivals suffered a staggering 70% loss in both attendance and revenue compared to 2019

According to Richardson, Australia’s live entertainment business has a long road to recovery: “The forecast for the next 12 months indicates industry viability is seriously threatened with reactivation and recovery now delayed. The lag time required to plan and deliver events sees companies trying to retain staff to work on pipeline events through Q4 and well into the middle of next year.”

Richardson reiterated calls for an insurance scheme for the business, echoing sentiments previously shared by not only LPA but other industry bodies.

“We expect the impacts of Covid-19 in 2021 maybe even greater given our two major markets [NSW, VIC] have been closed for extended periods,” she said, “and these impacts have seen business confidence collapse and the industry needs an insurance scheme to underwrite investment risk in 2022/23.

“The live music and entertainment industry also urgently requires a targeted, Business Reactivation package to ensure we retain capacity to operate when border, venue capacity and operational restrictions are eased. While much of the economy will be returning to pre-Covid activity, the live music and entertainment industry will be constrained by venue capacity and border restrictions for some months.”

Read the LPA’s full report here.

 


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Eventbrite shares drop 30% after weak Q1 report

Eventbrite shares dipped from US$24.15 to $17.2 last night (May 1), following the release of the company’s Q1 financial report, which showed widening losses and slower growth.

Although the event management and ticketing company experienced growth in revenue (9.1% to $81.3 million), paid tickets (14.5% to 27m) and gross profit (9.4% to $50.8m), the rate of growth has slowed down considerably since the company first went public in November 2018.

Eventbrite recorded an operating loss of $10.1m, compared to $3.1m in the same period of 2018. Net loss per share was $0.13 and adjusted EBITDA was down to $5m, from $8.8m last year.

The company put its modest growth down to issues related to integrating Ticketfly to the Eventbrite platform, following its acquisition of the ticketing company in 2017. Eventbrite aims to retire the Ticketfly brand later this year, following November’s launch of Eventbrite Music, a ticketing solution for independent promoters, venues and festivals.

“We took on a challenge when we acquired Ticketfly, as it marked a significant expansion in our commitment to their main customers, music venues,” explains the Q1 shareholder letter.

“While we remain committed to this endeavour, we believe we may see meaningful migration loss as we move to shut down the Ticketfly platform in the second half of the year”

“We have spent significant time and resources over the past year to build a product that serves these creators. While we remain committed to this endeavour, as we have noted in the past, we believe we may see meaningful migration loss as we move to shut down the Ticketfly platform in the second half of the year.

“While unfortunate in the short run, this move positions the company best for the future, allowing us to continue to improve capabilities for all creators on the platform and ensuring we are sufficiently investing beyond North American music sales to support both our self sign-on and sales channels.”

Eventbrite states it will continue to increase investment in the business in Q2 and expects to remain EBITDA positive for the full year.

The company notes that while it expects these platform migration-related issues to continue into Q2, continued growth from self sign-on and international channels ought to bolster performance. Eventbrite recently opened its first European development centre in Spain and launched a localised platform Singapore, its first in an Asian market.

The company also announced that its chief financial officer, Randy Befumo, will transition into the role of chief strategy officer, to focus on ways to enable the Eventbrite business to grow.

 


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