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Live music industry ‘reached new heights’ in 2023

Concert attendance was up 20% for Live Nation to more than 145 million last year, with revenue rising 23% to US$22.7 billion (€20.95bn).

The company posted all-time highs for attendance, ticket sales and sponsorship activity in its financial results for full-year and Q4 2023.

Operating income was up 46% to $1.07bn and AOI rose 32% to $1.86bn, doubling since the last pre-pandemic year of 2019, while Live Nation remains the largest supporter of artists, with investment in acts leaping by more than 40% to over $13bn, while there were 50% more international acts in top 50 tours.

“The live music industry reached new heights in 2023, and demand for live music continues to build,” says LN president and CEO Michael Rapino. “Our digital world empowers artists to develop global followings, while inspiring fans to crave in-person experiences more than ever. At the same time, the industry is delivering a wider variety of concerts which draws in new audiences, and developing more venues to support a larger show pipeline.

“Against this backdrop, we expect all our businesses to continue growing and adding value to artists and fans as we deliver double-digit operating income and AOI growth again this year, with our profitability compounding by double-digits over the next several years.”

“Shows are flying out the door from top to bottom”

The company’s share price was up 2.5% to $93.49 at press time. Speaking to investors last night (22 February) on the firm’s earnings call, Rapino reiterated that another year of growth is on the cards.

“This is going to be a great year,” he said. “We’re pacing ahead on our arena and our amphitheatre business, which is the higher-margin business. So, we’re going to have a fabulous year. We’re going to be able to monetise that around the world.

“We just went on sale within the last week on Usher, Justin Timberlake, Jennifer Lopez, just announced Jelly Roll this morning. These shows are flying out the door from top to bottom.”

LN president/CFO Joe Berchtold added: “We’re seeing most of these on-sales still selling front-to-back, meaning most expensive tickets to least. So, we’re seeing strong demand at all price points… All fronts are showing strong consumer demand globally.”

Rapino pointed out that ’25 is already gearing up to be a “monster stadium year”, as compared to the more arena and theatre-focused ’24.

“We expect this to continue to be a double-digit growth business”

“[2025] looks like it’s going to be a monster stadium year again as that pipe kind of reloads itself,” he said. “We made decisions this year: Usher could have been in stadiums. We wanted to get them in arenas this year and put a great show together. Justin Timberlake, Bad Bunny in arenas versus stadiums. So, you make those trade-offs in different years.

“But the good news for us is we’re going to have a fabulous arena/amphitheatre year, festival year around the world. That’s going to drive our overall AOI margin cash flow. Probably bounce back with some bigger stadium activity in ’25 and then the cycle will continue.”

On sponsorship revenue, which was up 13% to over $1bn, Rapino added: “Our demand in terms of clients that want to be part of this live experience surge right now is stronger than ever. Most CMOs want to sit down with us and talk about how can they have some part of this live explosion on a global basis.

“As you’ve seen with Mastercard and updated deal with Verizon and others to be announced, our pipe is up year-over-year. We expect this to continue to be a double-digit growth business, as we’ve seen in the past. We’ve seen nothing slowing down there.”

Ticketmaster GTV was up double-digits to $13bn on fee-bearing tickets for events playing off in 2024  Asked about platinum ticketing, Rapino outlined the differences between the more established US market and other territories.

“They look at the grosses and say, ‘Wow, we’re leaving too much on the table for the scalpers. Let’s price this better'”

“Outside of the US, we’re in the first inning,” he said. “We’re just rolling this out around the world, so that’s the great growth opportunity obviously. We have it in Europe, but still in infancy stages. We’re going to expand it down to South America, Australia, etc. So, first inning on the international business, well received when it gets there.

“Promoters are anxious for it. Artists are anxious for it, because when they sell an arena in Baltimore versus Milan, right now, they look at the grosses and say, ‘Wow, we’re leaving too much on the table for the scalpers. Let’s price this better.’ So that’s our best sales pitch.

“On the US business, we’re probably about in the fifth inning… We still think that’s a multi-year opportunity to continue to grow our top line/bottom line.”

The pair also offered a brief update on the antitrust investigation into Live Nation and Ticketmaster by the DoJ after Bloomberg reported the US Justice Department had sent out a new raft of information requests in its probe.

“I don’t think we’ve got a lot to report,” said Berchtold. “We continue to answer any questions they have. They control the timing, and we’ll watch it play out, but we don’t have any specific updates.”

“We’re 100% cooperative,” added Rapino.


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CTS Eventim ‘significantly’ exceeds 2023 forecast

CTS Eventim “significantly exceeded” its forecast for 2023 thanks to a “very strong” Q4, according to the company’s latest financial results.

The pan-European giant enjoyed a record year, attaining consolidated revenue of €2.359 billion for the 12-month period – a 22.5% increase on the previous year’s €1.926bn. CTS had previously projected group revenue in excess of €2bn for 2023 as a whole last October.

In the preliminary figures, the group also reported normalised EBITDA of €501.4 million, up 31.9% from €380.1m in the previous year. CTS’ full annual report for 2023 will be published on 26 March.

The growth was powered by the German-headquartered firm’s ticketing and live entertainment segments. Ticketing revenue rose 32.5% to €717m (2022: €541m), with normalised EBITDA leaping 46.6% to €382.4m.

For the live entertainment strand, revenue jumped 18.9% year-on-year to €1.677bn (2022: €1.410bn), with normalised EBITDA almost flat at €119.1m, compared to €119.2m in 2022.

The group figures include income of €37.4m to which CTS group companies are directly entitled, resulting from compensation paid by the German government to the joint venture autoTicket GmbH, Berlin.

“The year-on-year growth rates shown here reflect the success of the operating business”

“As the prior-year figures contained a similar volume of income that had been received under pandemic-related economic aid programmes, the year-on-year growth rates shown here reflect the success of the operating business,” adds a company statement.

According to Pollstar’s 2023 global rankings, the Eventim Group is the world’s second-biggest promoter. The firm’s portfolio includes festivals such as Rock am Ring, Rock im Park, Hurricane, Southside,and Lucca Summer.

It also operates venues, such as the Lanxess Arena in Cologne, the K.B. Hallen in Copenhagen, the Waldbühne in Berlin and the Eventim Apollo in London.

Visions reports that more than 90,000 tickets have already been sold for Germany’s Rock am Ring and Rock im Park, which take place from 7-9 June at Nürburgring race track and Zeppelin Field, respectively.

Operated by CTS’ Dreamhaus subsidiary, the twin festivals will be headlined by Die Ärzte, Måneskin and Green Day. The events’ new premium camping offers are said to be almost sold out, while tickets for the Backstage Camp, Seaside Backstage Camp and Caravan Camping are already sold out.

“The demand for tickets is strong and the fans’ anticipation is huge,” says Dreamhaus CEO Matt Schwarz.


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