Sir Isaac Newton, the great British physicist and mathematician, famously observed "what goes up must come down.” The laws of physics seemingly apply also to Australia’s live music market which, after so many years of dynamic performance, growth and, often, robust results, has come down with a thud.
New results published by Live Performance Australia show a fall in both revenue and ticket sales for the 2015 period.
Revenue across all live entertainment was A$1.41 billion ($1.05 billion), down 6.7 per cent, with 18.38 million tickets sold to live performance events, a dip of nearly 1 per cent from the attendance measured in 2014. Average ticket prices declined by 4.7 per cent.
“In the past decade we have witnessed a boom in live contemporary music concerts and festivals due to increased tours by international artists,” explains LPA CEO Evelyn Richardson in the 12th annual report. “We are now seeing this growth plateau, reflecting the significant challenges the live music sector faces in the years ahead.”
Rock, pop and hip-hop concerts fall under the “Contemporary Music” category, which endured a particularly tough year. “Contemporary Music” remains by far the biggest category, accounting for about a third of total revenue, though the sector experienced a 21% drop-off in revenue to A$447.90 million ($335 million). At the same time, attendance fell by 13% and the average ticket price was down by 10.4%.
The LPA notes tours by Fleetwood Mac, AC/DC, Ed Sheeran, and the Foo Fighters “contributed significantly” to the category, though its performance was well off the pace from 2014 when the likes of Katy Perry, Bruce Springsteen, Bruno Mars and Eminem visited these shores. Festivals also took a hit in revenue and attendance with LPA singling out the cancelation of the Big Day Out in 2015, a multi-trek tour which in its peak years shifted upwards of 300,000 tickets. Australia’s summer festival market has now lost its “big four” touring brands – BDO, Stereosonic, Soundwave and Future Music Festival – which, in a typical run, generated upwards of one million combined ticket sales.
Promoters and arena operators tell Billboard business is as soft as it has been for five years, though many take a scientific approach: the market will swing back. The live space will enjoy a rush in the first quarter when Adele and Guns N' Roses head Down Under for stadium tours, and the likes of Coldplay (stadiums) and local hero Keith Urban (arenas) are currently in the marketplace.
The LPA insists the soft overall result isn’t cause for alarm. The ticketing results for live entertainment outweigh combined attendances across the professional codes of soccer, Aussie rules football, rugby league and cricket during the same period.
Download the report here.