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Live music down 64% this year – but will rebound in 2021

The money generated by live music ticket sales and sponsorships has fallen 64% in 2020, with nearly US$18 billion having been wiped off the value of the international concert industry this year alone.

That’s according to the latest figures from auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), whose new Global Entertainment & Media Outlook illustrates for the first time the economic devastation wrought by the novel coronavirus and subsequent restrictions on staging live events.

The Global Entertainment & Media Outlook 2020–2024 – whose forerunner, the pre-coronavirus Outlook 2019–2023, predicted average annual live music growth of 3.33% through 2023 – revises that figure down to 1.4% (2019–24) to reflect the impact of Covid-19.

In total, live music will generate a projected $10.4bn ($8.3bn ticket sales + $2.1bn sponsorship) in 2020 – down from nearly $29bn in 2019, and far short of the $30.4bn generated by recorded music this year, according to the report. The fall in live revenues has also helped wiped some $17bn off the value of the global music industry as a whole, as the chart below (which covers 2015–24) shows:

2020–24 live music revenues, PwC Outlook 2020

This year marks the first time since the great recording industry slump of the 2000s – when touring overtook physical sales as artists’ main source of revenue – that the recorded sector (including digital) has been worth more than live, reflecting continued strong growth in music streaming, particularly during the Covid-19 era.

Music streaming specifically is worth $20.4bn in 2020, with a predicted compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.32% up to and including 2024.

The global concert industry’s revenues in 2022 will be $29.3bn – over $300m higher than in 2019

Recorded music isn’t the only sector to have done well out of lockdown. Where physical experiences, such as live music, cinema and theatre, have been particularly hard hit by the downturn, home entertainment is booming, according to PwC, with video games (as previously noted by IQ) and ‘over-the-top’ (OTT) video – ie Netflix and other video streaming services – the chief “beneficiaries” of the Covid-19 crisis.

In the UK alone, OTT video revenue has “surge[d] by 18.6% in 2020, to £1.6bn”, the report notes, while videogame consumption is up 9.7%. “Overall, the video games industry is forecast for 9% growth this year, amounting to £5.2bn, and by 2024 the sector will be worth £6.8bn at a CAGR of 7%,” it continues.

But it’s not all bad news for live. Far from it: The 2020–2024 Outlook shows that live music will rebound in 2021, with worldwide revenues growing by 82.6%, to over $19bn, as concerts resume.

Mark Maitland, PwC’s UK head of entertainment and media, says a similarly strong recovery is expected in 2021 for other industries reliant on “in-person” experiences.

“Parts of the media sector have been hit very hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly in-person activities or those reliant on advertising revenue,” he explains. “This will drive a c. 7% decline in sector revenues in 2020, but in recent months we have already seen improving performance, and as such, we expect the sector revenues to return to 2019 levels in 2021.”

Looking further ahead, PwC’s numbers tally with previous predictions made by investment bank Goldman Sachs – another seasoned music industry observer – whose head of media and internet research, Lisa Yang, said at iFF last week she expects the live music industry’s recovery to be complete by 2022.

PwC forecasts “live music to bounce back immediately next year”

Similarly, the Outlook 2020–2024 shows global revenues of $29.3bn – over $300m higher than in 2019 – for the concert industry in 2022, with ticket sales having rebounded to $23.3bn, compared to $22.9bn in 2019.

Despite a ‘lost’ year in 2020, then, PwC’s analysts see consistent growth for live music in the years ahead, noting that even though the business has ground to a halt, M&A activity continues.

“With global live music revenue expected to grow at a 1.4% CAGR, despite disruption to the sector in 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic there is much to gain from having a broad-based live offering,” reads the report.

“Providing more venues reopen,” PwC UK forecasts “live music to bounce back immediately next year from its growth loss this year”.

Highlighting how live businesses have embraced technology to connect with fans during the concert shutdown (giving the recent virtual Wireless Connect festival as an example), Maitland notes that industries which have diversified into digital are the ones best placed to bounce back quickly after the coronavirus threat has passed.

“Some parts of the [entertainment] sector, such as gaming and OTT video, have been beneficiaries during the pandemic, and we expect these to continue to prosper, with many ‘lockdown habits’ continuing far beyond lockdown,” he explains.

“For sectors adversely affected by the pandemic, this has brought forward some of the digital disruption prophesied to come years later, and it has reinforced the digitisation of the industry. This is reflected in [the fact that] industries that are forecast to claw back their lost revenue are ones being driven by, or have embraced, technology as a way to connect with consumers.”


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1/3 of Italians book tickets for post-corona shows

In news that bodes well for the immediate future of the Italian live industry, nearly a third of live music fans have already bought, or are planning to buy, tickets for their first post-lockdown concerts, new research suggests.

Dopo l’Intervallo (After the Interval), based on the results of a survey of over 32,000 Italian eventgoers between 27 May and 19 June, reveals that 30.5% of respondents are actively seeking to buy tickets for shows – nearly double the number in the UK (17%), where the first After the Interval survey was conducted on 16 April–6 May.

“Italy is considered to be 2–4 weeks ahead of the UK in their experience of Covid-19. Could these results give us an idea of how our cultural audiences might be feeling in 6–8 weeks?” asks Indigo, the consultancy behind both surveys.

Italy’s concert scene reopened for business earlier this month, with phase three of the easing of lockdown seeing indoor shows of up to 200 people and outdoor events of up to 1,000 people allowed from 15 June. Some 90% of bars and restaurants are now open, though the live industry continues to wait for news on major gatherings such as large concerts and festivals.

“[Italians] consider it an integral part of their culture … to participate in music events and live shows”

The Italian version of After the Interval – produced by Indigo for Teatro Stabile del FVG, with input from live music associations such as Assomusica and KeepOn Live – additionally reveals a huge 96% of Italian respondents said they have missed live events during the Covid-19 pandemic (73% of them “a lot”), and that nearly a quarter (23%) would return to an event “as soon as venues reopen”.

However, of the 30.5% of those who are actively booking tickets, around half of them are booking for events after November 2020, indicating there will likely not be a full-scale recovery until 2021.

Vincenzo Spera, president of promoters’ association Assomusica, says the survey results are testament to the importance the Italian public places on live events. “We can take comfort and confidence”, he explains, in the fact Italian audiences consider it an “integral part of their culture […] to participate in music events and live shows.”

Italy is the world’s sixth-largest music market, with US$635m in ticket sales in 2019, according to PwC.


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Unwanted sexual behaviour ‘rife’ at UK festivals

Results of a new poll conducted by YouGov for the Press Association suggest some 22% of British festivalgoers have faced some kind of unwanted sexual behaviour at a music festival. This figure rises to almost one in three (30%) for just women, and almost half (43%) for women under 40.

Of those that have experienced sexual assault or harassment at a festival, only two percent go on to report the incident to the police. This severe under-reporting is representative of the issue on a wider level – a crime survey for England and Wales noted last year that 83% of victims do not report their experiences to police.

1,188 festivalgoers were surveyed to find this new information. It is thought that it is the first data of its kind. Tracey Wise, founder of Safe Gigs for Women, says: “We have struggled to find anyone with any definite statistics on this before now.

“It gives us something to show to festival organisers so we can say ‘you need to take this on board’.”

The report is particularly timely after a proposed ‘upskirting’ bill was blocked last week by one Conservative MP vote. Gina Martin, the woman responsible for the bill being put to parliament, was at British Summer Time in 2017 when a man sexually harassed her by taking a picture under her skirt.

“If people don’t intervene, then this behaviour becomes normalised.”

Writing for the BBC in 2017, she explained festival staff and police had been sympathetic to her cause – saying that the incident was harassment – but that there was little they could do because the law made it difficult to prosecute the act.

Though the report has no such data for upskirting, it does note that forceful and unwelcome dancing and sexualised verbal harassment were the most common forms of unwanted sexual behaviour at festivals.

Despite cases like Gina Martin’s and the statistics which suggest reporting of sexual offences is so low, Paul Reed, chief executive of the Association of Independent Festivals says festivalgoers should still report problems. “People shouldn’t feel that they need to tolerate the type of behaviour [at festivals] that they wouldn’t tolerate in the street.

“If people don’t intervene, then this behaviour becomes normalised.”

To try and combat the seemingly ever-present issue of sexual harassment and assault at music festivals, more than 60 members of the Association of Independent Festivals signed an anti-sexual harassment charter last year.

Findings from the survey can be found in the video below:


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Spanish live business up 21% in 2017

Last year brought good news for the live music industry in Spain: the fourth consecutive year of growth for the live music market, with €223.2 million generated – an increase of 20.6% on 2016.

One of the explanations for the improvement of the health of the live sector is the reduction of cultural VAT from 21% to 10%, and 2017’s figures are above those of 2012, the year in which VAT was increased. The latest statistics reflect the attractiveness of Spain as a destination for major international tours, with millions of tickets sold to shows by the likes of the Rolling Stones, U2 and Maluma.

Also key to the market’s strength are the recent legal victory against collection society SGAE over tariffs, Google’s new restrictions on secondary ticketing sites and the admission of the Association of Music Promoters (APM) to the European Live Music Association.

The biggest international tours of 2017 were Ricky Martin, who played to 115,806 people at 13 shows; Guns N’ Roses, who drew 91,200 people to his concerts in Madrid and Barcelona; and Colombian star Maluma, whose nine Spanish shows were seen by 70,914 people. The visits of the Rolling Stones, Bruno Mars, U2, Aerosmith and Ed Sheeran were also major events in the cultural calendar of 2017.

The latest statistics reflect the attractiveness of Spain as a destination for major international tours

However, the biggest success story was Spanish singer-songwriter Malendi, whose 37 Quítate las gafas (Take off your glasses) tour dates attracted 208,972 spectators. Other stand-out domestic successes included Joaquín Sabina, David Bisbal, Vanesa Martín or Manuel Carrasco.

Despite the positive developments outlined in the latest edition of APM’s Live Music Yearbook, there are still several challenges facing the industry, including small profit margins for many small and medium-sized companies and the fight against online ticket resale.

The promoters’ association, therefore, continues to search for an “adequate legal solution” to these challenges, including through further European integration. By joining the European Live Music Association (ELMA), APM hopes to “face the problems of the sector from a European perspective”, with ELMA seen as “the appropriate framework to support the sustainable development of the live music industry”.


Industria Musical is the leading Spanish-language music business website, with readers from Spain, Latin America and the United States. With daily news, reports and analysis, as well as training and digital consultancy services, IM serves as a digital reference platform for the Hispanic music industry.

UK Live Music Census shows pressure on venues

Rising tax rates and restrictive noise regulations are hurting Britain’s venues, particularly at grassroots level, the first UK Live Music Census has found.

The census shows that small venues are facing a number of threats that could affect their long-term future, especially in the form of rising business rates and stringent noise restrictions, say researchers – who hope their findings will help to “inform debates about the future of the live music industry” in the UK.

Researchers from the Universities of Edinburgh and Newcastle, and Turku in Finland, carried out the census in March 2017 in Brighton, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle/Gateshead, Oxford and Southampton, tracking performances, from club shows to arena concerts, in cities across the country. The research combines data collected over a 24-hour period with data from nationwide online surveys.

“This report not only shows the cultural and economic value of live music, but also the challenges it faces”

The study also provides further evidence that people spend more money on live events than on recorded music, with nearly half of the 4,400 surveyed spending more than £20 on concert or festival tickets each month (only a quarter spend the same on recorded music).

“Festival and concert attendance continue to grow. This report not only shows the cultural and economic value of live music, but also the challenges it faces,” says Dr Matt Brennan of the University of Edinburgh’s Reid School of Music.

“This survey is the largest of its kind in the UK. We hope it can influence the valuable contribution live music makes to wider society and help support the protection of the live music ecology.”

The UK Live Music Census can be read in full at uklivemusiccensus.org/#report.


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Top 100 tours grossed $5.65bn in 2017

The 100 biggest concert tours of 2017 collectively generated a huge US$5.65bn in revenue – a 15.8% year-on-year increase – in a “record-crushing” year for the international live music business.

That’s according to the 2017 edition of Pollstar’s traditional year-end special features, which track the value of the year’s biggest tours, promoters, arenas, festivals, individual concert grosses and more. The top 100 worldwide tours chart, topped by U2’s Live Nation-promoted Joshua Tree 2017 tour, also shows the tickets sold by the top 100 reached a new record high of 66.79 million – a 10.4% increase on 2016.

Average ticket prices rose by nearly 5% to $84.63, with 11 tours generating more than $100m worldwide – U2, Guns N’ Roses, Coldplay, Bruno Mars, Metallica, Depeche Mode, Paul McCartney, Ed Sheeran, the Rolling Stones, Garth Brooks and Celine Dion – compared to 2016’s seven.

Tickets sold by the top 100 tours reached a new record high of 66.79 million – a 10.4% increase on 2016

This, says Pollstar, demonstrates that “the most successful artists are clearly getting better at recapturing some of the revenue that had leaked into the secondary ticket market”, with Taylor Swift’s tout-beating ‘slow ticketing’ model putting her in pole position for the biggest tour of 2018.

Other headline year-end figures include Live Nation once again taking the number-one promoter spot, reporting a record 52.2m tickets sold, followed by AEG Presents (14.4m tickets), Mexico’s Ocesa (4m), Feld Entertainment (3.2m) and SJM in the UK (2.4m); Goldenvoice’s Coachella generating 2017’s biggest festival gross, at $114.6m over two weekends; and the UK punching above its weight in the top 100 arenas chart, with first-placed The O2, third-placed Manchester Arena and fourth-placed SSE Hydro leading a British invasion of the top five.

The top 20 venues, especially, show the “importance of the growing global concert market”, says Pollstar – confirming the findings of PwC, which noted the business is becoming “increasingly international”, earlier this year – with only seven located in the US; five are in the UK, two in Mexico and one each in Germany, Spain, Canada, France, the Netherlands and Belgium.


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Concert revenue boosts growth for UK theatres

Revenue from concerts held at Britain’s theatres grew 47% in the three years from 2013 to 2016, according to a new report by membership body UK Theatre, highlighting the increasing importance of live music to the performing arts industry.

UK Theatre’s newly released Sales Data Report 2013–2016 reveals that concerts have overtaken pantomime as the highest-performing genre across UK Theatre’s member venues. Over half a million more tickets were sold for concerts at UK Theatre venues in 2016 compared to 2013, delivering a £3.29 increase in average yield, with income from rock and pop concerts growing the fastest: 50% over the three years.

Theatres with a capacity above 1,000 were the most financially important venues for rock and pop shows, followed by concert halls and the auditoria of “principally presenting theatres” – or venues which chiefly present, rather than produce, shows – with a capacity of 500–1,000.

“This report is a vote of confidence for the industry in challenging times”

UK Theatre president Fiona Allan says the growth in concerts demonstrates that theatre managers are “responding to the evolving tastes of audiences”.

Income recorded at UK Theatre venues for all types of programming grew 18%.

“Our sector has many reasons to be cheerful,” comments Allan. “This report is a vote of confidence for the industry in challenging times. We’re continuing to attract audiences, and as an industry we’re showing remarkable resilience during a time of unprecedented financial pressure.

“These figures demonstrate the vital importance of the arts to the national economy, and show that theatre remains a popular and important part of our cultural life in the UK.”


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Australian live biz posts modest growth in 2016

The Australian live entertainment business returned to growth in 2016, posting a 1.2% increase in revenue an 0.8% increase in attendance, reveals new data from trade association Live Performance Australia.

Revenues from live performance – which, in addition to popular music concerts and festivals, includes ballet and dance, children’s/family shows, classical music, performing arts, theatre, opera, comedy, circus and physical theatre – grew to A$1.43 billion (US$1.12bn), with 18.78 million tickets sold.

However, the modest growth shown in 2016 failed to put much of a dent in the 6.7% contraction seen by the industry in 2015, with LPA chief executive Evelyn Richardson saying once again that the figures highlight the important of a “more strategic approach” to the live industry from the government.

Australian live industry contracts in 2015

“These figures underscore the economic and cultural value of the live performance industry for millions of Australians,” she comments. “The need for increased investment in the performing arts has never been greater.

“The survey results also support recent customer spending data that shows more Australians are spending their hard earned cash on ‘meaningful experiences’ such as concert tickets and the theatre. Our research reaffirms the important contribution that live performance makes to the national culture and the creative economy.

“We have access to a wide array of high-quality local and international performances, which the report shows Australians truly value and enjoy. However, if Australia is going to continue to compete globally, to satisfy both Australian audiences and attract international tourists, we need to ensure we invest more, not less, in creating local product that is world class.

“Instead, the last few years have seen funding cuts, our small-to-medium sector massively impacted and very little indication that government is prepared to deliver on its vision for innovation and jobs growth in our sector.

“We strongly believe that the government needs to step up and support greater investment in our industry which creates jobs, employs more than 34,000 people, generates significant economic activity and enriches the cultural lives of millions of Australians.”

“We strongly believe that the government needs to step up and support greater investment in our industry”

By sector, contemporary music continues to be the largest contributor, commanding 30.8% of revenue and 30.1% of attendance. It declined 7.9% last year, although LPA notes this is “much less than in 2015”, when revenues fell 21%.

Much of this can be attributed to falling ticket prices, which have declined 22.8% from a peak average price of $110.50 in 2013.

Concert music attendances, meanwhile, increased 1%, with 5.7m people attending non-festival events.

The festivals category reported a significant 25.2% decline in revenue, while attendances fell by 48.2% – down from a peak of $129.2m in 2014, with the sector still feeling the effects of the declines of major music events such as Future Music Festival and Stereosonic.

Interesting, in the festival sector – contrary to the revenue and attendance declines – the average ticket price actually increased, by 6.7% to $85.35.

Read the full Ticket Attendance and Revenue Survey 2016 report at the LPA website.


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“A tremendous success story”: UK audiences surge 12%

The number of people who attended a concert or music festival in the UK climbed 12% last year, reaching 30.9 million – almost half the country – and underscoring the “massive contribution” live music makes to Britain’s “culture and general wellbeing”, reveals UK Music’s latest Wish You Were Here study, released today.

Concertgoers generated £4 billion in combined direct and indirect spending in 2016 – an increase of 11% on the £3.7bn reported in 2015 – while the number of music tourists, both from the UK and abroad, rose even further: 20% compared to the previous year, to almost 12.5m. (The number of music tourists in the UK has increased 76% since 2011.)

The increase in concert tourism in 2016 had positive a knock-on effect on employment in the industry, sustaining 47,445 full-time jobs – a 22% increase on the 2015’s figure of 39,034. The growth in live music industry jobs tallies with recent government figures that showed employment in the creative industries has grown at three times faster than the UK average since 2011.

But it’s not all good news: UK Music’s figures illustrate the difficulties that grassroots venues continue to face, showing a 13% drop in direct spending at music venues with a capacity of under 1,500, and a 21% fall in the number of overseas visitors.

“Live music in the UK is a tremendous success story, and makes a massive contribution to our culture and general wellbeing”

Karen Bradley, Britain’s secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, comments: “UK Music’s Wish You Were Here report clearly shows music and the creative industries are not only central to our cultural DNA but also hugely important for creating jobs and growth across the country. It’s fantastic to see a record number of visitors to live events in the UK and the huge popularity of our artists overseas. Our musicians are cultural ambassadors for Britain and help us show the world that we are an optimistic and open country.”

“Music fans poured into a huge range of festivals [such as] Glastonbury, Latitude in Suffolk, The Great Escape in Brighton and Green Man in the Brecon Beacons,” adds newly elected UK Music chief executive Michael Dugher. “They also enjoyed seeing the best British new talent in smaller venues, which are a vital part of the live music industry. […]

“Live music in the UK is a tremendous success story and makes a massive contribution to our culture and general wellbeing, as well as our economy. It showcases our talent to the world and brings pleasure to millions every day.

“But this success is being put at risk. That’s why UK Music will continue to campaign to safeguard smaller music venues, many of which are fighting for survival, and will be pressing the government to make sure the impact of Brexit does not damage our export trade or make it harder for UK artists to tour abroad and for overseas acts to come here.”


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Music worth €870m to European arenas in challenging 2016

The European arenas business generated over €1.4 billion last year – with live music accounting for more than 60% of that total – despite the challenges posed by sluggish economies and a dearth of touring artists, reveals the inaugural European Arena Yearbook (EAY).

EAY, a standalone publication which replaces IQ’s annual European Arena Report, is produced by ILMC in partnership with the European Arenas Association (EEA) and the UK’s National Arena Association (NAA). Sixty-nine European arenas contributed to the first edition, which tracked more more than 5,500 performances across the continent.

Divided into six regional focuses – central and eastern Europe; France and Benelux; Germany, Switzerland and Austria; the Nordics; southern Europe; and Britain and Ireland – the first EAY also includes a big-picture overview of the European industry and in-depth features on venue security and new technology.

Across Europe as a whole, several promoters told EAY that 2016 was a difficult year due to the lack of international acts out touring, and music’s share of overall venue usage slipped slightly (-1% YoY) to 39%, losing ground to sporting and family events. However, many are already reporting a “significant boost” in concert bookings for 2017, and it is expected that music will rebound above the 40% mark in next year’s survey.

“The European arena sector is a multibillion-euro concern, employing thousands of people and having favourable economic impact on towns and cities from Aberdeen to Zagreb”

Other key takeaways from EAY 2017 include:

Total spend on music topped €868.5m
Revenues from live music accounted for a whopping 60.5% of the pot, with total attendance reaching more than 16m

European Arena Yearbook (EAY) 2017, 2016 key statistics

Southern Europe set to drive future growth
There is a “tangible feeling of optimism” in the Mediterranean, with huge potential for growth and Italians, Spaniards and Portuguese seeing more shows than the European average

European Arena Yearbook (EAY) 2017, growth predictions

Artist fees are still a cause for concern
Spiralling artist fees remain the no1 concern among European venues, with their respective nations’ economies in close second. (It should be noted, however, that at the time of survey completion the Manchester Arena bombing had not yet happened)

European Arena Yearbook (EAY) 2017, industry concerns

Music ticket prices continue to rise
And while live music is still the biggest draw throughout Europe, sport is eating into its share of venue usage

European Arena Yearbook (EAY) 2017, ticket prices and venue usage

“The headlines across this first EAY are that our reporting arenas brought in more than €1.4bn in revenues in 2016, entertaining more than 32m people in the process, across more than 5,500 performances,” writes IQ/EAY editor Gordon Masson, “underlining the fact that the European arena sector is a multibillion-euro concern, employing thousands of people and having favourable economic impact on towns and cities from Aberdeen to Zagreb.”

Dive into the European Arena Yearbook 2017 below:


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