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Eventbrite: 30% of ticket sales still for virtual events

Eight months on from the shutdown of nearly all live events, a third of ticket sales on Eventbrite are still for online experiences, according to the US-based ticketing/event-management company.

Even as major events return to markets in Asia and Australasia – and following a temporary return to semi-normality in Europe and North America over the summer – up to 30% of Eventbrite’s ticket volume in the third financial quarter (Q3) of 2020 involved virtual events, says the company’s CFO, Lanny Baker.

Speaking to investors during Eventbrite’s Q3 earnings call, Baker said the continued popularity of online events could point to a “structural” change in the business, even after a vaccine for Covid-19 becomes available.

“When the in-person events have recovered and people have moved from their computer screens back into the real world, we’ve seen that next shift back [to physical], but we’re still talking about 10%, 20%, 30% of ticket volume being for virtual events,” he explained. “Whereas pre-Covid, that number might have been 2%, 3% or 4%.

“So I think there’s been a structural opening of a business opportunity and habit around online events. There are new creators [which were] not necessarily [in] the event marketplace in the past.”

“I think there’s been a structural opening of a business opportunity … around online events”

This continued demand for virtual experiences hasn’t, however, affected ticket sales for physical events: the company reported in September that it saw paid ticket volume grow 17% in August alone, as more fans went to Covid-secure in-person shows.

Eventbrite, which has offices in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, Spain and the Republic of Ireland, reported a 75% year-on-year decline in revenue, to US$21.8 million, in Q3 – an improvement on Q2, where the figure was just $8.4m.

The company says it has also achieved expense savings “ahead of plan” for its $100m cost-cutting scheme, announced in April, reducing net loss to $19.1m, compared to $30.1m in Q3 2019.

“The continued improvement in our results reflects creators’ ingenuity and their confidence in our platform to deliver when it matters most,” comments Eventbrite CEO Julia Hartz. “Activity on our platform rebounded in the third quarter, as creators hosted more events than they did this time last year, and total consumer ticket volume began to approach pre-Covid levels.

“We believe that our platform is uniquely positioned to serve the needs of independent creators, helping them to grow their businesses and lead the recovery of live experiences.”

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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

Live Nation: ‘We expect shows at scale next summer’

Live Nation execs were bullish on the company’s prospects during its Q3 2020 earnings call, citing further cost cutting, progress on Covid-19 testing and a “consistently low” refund rate as reasons to be cheerful after another difficult quarter for the US concert giant.

With next to no concerts taking place globally, Live Nation reported a 95.1% drop in revenue, from US$3.77 billion (in Q3 2019) to US$184 million, in the third quarter of 2020 (June–September), the second full financial quarter of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This resulted in an operating loss of $504m, compared to an operating profit of $260m the previous year, although the financial picture has improved somewhat compared to Q2 2020, part due to new concert formats such as drive-ins, live streams and socially distanced shows. (Fans attending Live Nation shows grew 180% quarter on quarter.)

Live Nation’s share price increased slightly, to a near-one month-high of just over $56, following the earnings call.

“We are working on a roadmap to get back to live safely”

Speaking to investors and analysts yesterday (5 November), LN CEO Michael Rapino said while there have “been no major changes in our business conditions or outlook since the last time we spoke”, he is encouraged by the small number of fans who have returned tickets for refunds, as well as strong festival onsales for next summer, including for EDC Las Vegas (pictured), which sold out 2021 in 24 hours.

“Meanwhile, we are working on a roadmap to get back to live safely,” he continued. “We are encouraged by progress on testing technology treatments and vaccines which will help us build our plans.”

Rapino added that the promoter “expect[s] shows at scale next summer”, although he concedes that the “exact timeline of this return will vary by region, and so we continue to focus on remaining flexible.”

He also highlighted Ticketmaster’s new SmartEvent technology, which aims to enable event organisers to easily ticket Covid-secure shows, and revealed that Live Nation is developing a set of procedures, in partnership with health experts, that will allow shows to go ahead safely until a vaccine is found. “From venue sanitation procedures to fan-friendly policies and on ticket purchases and the latest testing options, we are setting standards that will give the fans, crews and artists peace of mind before, during and after the show,” he commented.

“We are setting standards that will give the fans, crews and artists peace of mind before, during and after the show”

Live Nation president Joe Berchtold revealed that the company has made savings of a further $100m, taking its 2020 cost cutting to a total of over $900m (at last estimate, in May, the figure was nearer $600m). “We have […] reduce[d] our cash usage by $1.5 billion relative to our pre-Covid plans,” he explained.

“With these reductions, we have lowered the estimate on our operational cash burn rate [negative cash flow] to $110m per month and our gross burn rate to $175m per month on average for the last nine months of the year and prior, to the benefit of contribution margin generated by the business.”

The call also saw Rapino touch on Marc Geiger’s plan to spend $75m on buying up US venues, saying he disagrees that there is a “fire sale” on grassroots venues (“the thesis […] that these independent venues are so distressed that they’re to throw someone they keys at a very cheap price” is, he said, disproved by the amount of “capital out there” at present, including Paycheck Protection Program loans), and the problem of securing insurance for shows next year, explaining that LN remains “optimistic that the government here in the US, like many of them internationally, [will] sort it out and make sure that there’s not spurious liability [claims] for everybody who is doing the appropriate actions [on making shows Covid-safe].”

Looking to the future, Rapino says it is clear that “the path to live will not be a straight line”. That’s why, he says, Live Nation “will maintain flexibility and focus on innovating” until the long-awaited return of live music.

 


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