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Rapino predicts ‘strongest multi-year period ever’

Live Nation’s share price is on the rise in the wake of the company’s latest quarterly report, with 45 million tickets already sold for its 2022 shows.

The results covered both Q4 last year and 2021 as a whole, when revenue hit $2.7 billion and $6.27bn respectively, compared to $237.3 million and $1.86bn for the same periods in the Covid-ravaged 2020.

The stockmarket reacted positively to the numbers, with shares jumping more than 7% to $125.28, although just short of the all-time high of $127.50 reached after the promoter’s Q3 2021 figures were released last November, before settling at $120.44 at close of play.

“Over the course of 2021, we saw the strength of live events,” Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino told investors. “The year started in the midst of the pandemic, but by summer fans were returning to shows, and by the end of the year, we had a record pipeline of concerts, ticket sales and advertising commitments for 2022.

“Restarting our concerts business in the second half of the year, we put over 17,000 concerts for 35 million fans in 2021, mainly in the US and UK markets. In the final five months of the year, in the US and UK, we had over 15 million fans attend our outdoor events: festivals, stadiums, and amphitheatres, nearly 25% higher than during the same period in 2019.”

“I believe this is just the start of what will be the strongest multi-year period ever for the concert industry”

He added: “The two-year wait for artists and fans is over. Never have the tailwinds to our business been so strong, and I believe this is just the start of what will be the strongest multi-year period ever for the concert industry.”

Focusing on 2022, ticket sales are up 45% on 2019 levels, with the concert giant citing last year’s acquisition of Latin American power player Ocesa Entretenimiento as a key factor in the accelerated growth. LN reported that eight artists have already sold in excess of 500,000 tickets for their tours this year, including Bad Bunny, Dua Lipa and Billie Eilish. Ticketing revenue came to $487.7m for Q4 and $1.13bn for the year in its entirety.

“Our ticketing business had the dual benefit of strong ticket sales for events in 2021, while also being the first of our businesses to benefit from our 2022 pipeline,” said Rapino. “Ticket sales were at a record pace across every metric with October, November and December being our top three months ever for ticketing gross transaction value, excluding refunded tickets. And the fourth quarter and second half of the year also set records for a quarter and six-month periods.”

“We have a lot of confidence that 2023 and beyond look very good”

Rapino and LN president/chief financial officer Joe Berchtold also weighed in on the higher than usual no-show rates at concerts since the restart, with both suggesting the issue had been overstated.

“I think there’s been a lot of reporting by anecdote out there, as opposed to reporting by collective facts. And I don’t think our experience is any different than the industry is, as a total,” he said. “First of all, arenas in 2019, if you look at the number of people that showed up for a concert versus the number of people that bought tickets, it ran at 93% in 2019. That number thus far, in 2022, over the past six weeks is running at 91%. So not materially different from the 93% for the total of 2019.

“For our theatres and clubs, the smaller shows, you tend to have a slightly higher no-show rate. And that number was 87% in 2019. It’s running at 83% in 2022. So I think if you first of all recognise that there were a number of shows that have taken place over the past few months that were rescheduled, and when shows get rescheduled, people will naturally forget about the show or have a conflict different than what they originally had, it’s probable that accounts for all or almost all of that difference in the attendance level.”

Commenting on media reports, Rapino said: “I think they were saying as 15%, 20% weren’t showing, but again, they weren’t taking into account that on a normal year, 7%, 8% of people don’t show up to shows, so you’re already starting at that level.”

Berchtold also gave an insight into the intense level of activity expected next year, adding that plans were well ahead of where they would be at a similar stage, pre-pandemic.

“Right now, I have in front of me a list of 40 some tours for 2023 that are either confirmed or in our pipeline,” he said. “Normally, at this point, a year from earlier, we’d have a list of five to 10. So yes, we have a lot of confidence that 2023 and beyond look very good because there is a lot of pent-up supply, there is a lot of pent-up demand, and we expect it’s a multi-year run.”


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