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Touring Business Could See Record Profits Next Year — Just Not for New Acts

While concert giants are bullish about the coming year, the rough economic climate puts emerging acts at a disadvantage.

Less than a year after the final coronavirus restrictions were dropped on concert capacity and attendance, the country’s largest two concert promoters are forecasting record sales in 2023 across a broad swath of building categories and genres. Although another promoter says he’s concerned the future is not nearly as bright for new acts.

Live Nation’s chair for global touring, Arthur Fogel, says his company has seen “absolutely no diminishment in sales” since the full-scale return of concerts and believes there is still significant growth opportunity for the company’s top-line touring acts to command record grosses.

Likewise, AEG Presents president for North America Rick Mueller says that ticket sales for shows already on sale in 2023 indicate record revenue and attendance at every capacity level in the concert space, “from [13,000-capacity] Forest Hills Stadium in Queens, N.Y., to the [500-capacity] Roxy in Los Angeles. We’re going to make a little more next year and work a lot harder for it,” he says, predicting that staffing and supply chain shortages will remain substantial challenges.

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“I used to think oversaturation was the biggest threat to the industry, but I no longer believe that bears out,” Mueller adds. His counterpart at Live Nation, Fogel, agrees, noting that less than 1% of events promoted by Live Nation were canceled in 2022.

Neither executive believes economic headwinds from prolonged inflation will significantly diminish sales or lead to a short-term rollback on prices for big-ticket tours, like Bruce Springsteen’s 2023 Live Nation run. “The level of spending around the show hasn’t changed,” says Fogel.

He also says that the top 20 stadium and arena tours “at any given time” are now more diverse than ever, representing multiple genres across multiple demographics. For example, Bad Bunny’s El Último Tour del Mundo tour is the highest-grossing Latin outing in Billboard Boxscore history.

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Independent promoter Jim Cressman, founder and owner of Canada’s Invictus Entertainment, says that Live Nation and AEG’s bullish outlook for 2023 is good news for the concert business but worries there’s not enough entry points for new fans or new bands.

“The added expenses that artists have because of inflation and rising energy costs make the economics very difficult for developing acts,” he says, echoing the complaints of indie managers. Cressman recommends that these artists connect early with sponsors to underwrite their tours. “Before the pandemic, sponsors provided a nice income bump,” he says. “Now, they’re critical to covering your costs.”