Summertime is concert time and, increasingly, the touring industry has a global audience to tap. As Billboard Boxscore statistics indicate, these are boom times for live music. In 2013, ticket sales soared to a record gross of $4.8 billion, up nearly 30 percent over 2012 and 9 percent over the market’s 2009 peak. And early returns point to an even better year in 2014. Live Nation, the world’s largest promoter, says ticket sales for its 2014 events are up 5 percent from May 2, 2013 to May 2, 2014, and CEO Michael Rapino tells Billboard that, for the same time period, the company already has sold half of all tickets it expects to sell this year. He adds, “Last year we sold 60 million concert tickets for the full year” – up by 10 million over 2012. For 2014, “we have sold 30 million [tickets] already.”
Two of the main drivers of this surge are inextricably linked: the growth of digital platforms that have exposed touring musicians on a global scale and emerging international markets that have given rise to venues and consumers that can support live music. The increased sophistication of targeted digital marketing also has been an effective tool at increasing fan awareness of shows. In other words, opportunities have never been better for artists to build a global presence.
Global growth was evident in Boxscore’s 2013 year-end numbers – 16 of the top 25 grossing live performances came from international markets, up from 14 in 2012 – and anecdotal information from other stakeholders in the live music business, including buyers and vendors, indicates a banner 2014.