Live Nation executives were not overpromising when they described intense supply and demand for concerts following the return of the touring business. In the second quarter, the concert promoter set records for adjusted operating income, fee-bearing gross transaction value for ticket sales and quarterly attendance, the company announced Thursday (Aug. 4).
Adjust operating income reached a record $479.6 million, 50% above pre-pandemic levels in the same period in 2019, on revenue of $4.4 billion, 40% above the second quarter of 2019. AOI was only $9.7 million in the second quarter of 2021 as Live Nation had not yet fully resumed its concert and festival schedule.
Concert attendance reached 33.5 million fans from 12,500 concerts, each more than 20% above 2019 levels. The number of fans in Live Nation owned and operated venues rose 13% to over 14 million in the quarter.
Transacted fee-bearing ticket value rose 48% to 77 million tickets with transacted GTV up 76% to a record $7.3 billion from the same period in 2019. Three-quarters of the growth came from concerts. On Ticketmaster’s secondary ticketing marketplace, GTV more than doubled from the second quarter of 2019.
Live Nation has generated more ticketing revenue by selling some seats using dynamic pricing that rises and falls to meet demand. Bruce Springsteen attracted attention to the practice in July when the best seats for his 2023 U.S. tour. But raising some primary ticket prices, which puts money into artists’ pockets rather than re-sellers, is increasingly common and accepted within the artist community. That's a big shift in value from the secondary to primary market.
“With market-based pricing being widely adopted by most tours, we expect to shift over $500 million from the secondary market to artists this year, continuing to support those who created the concert and ensuring they are benefiting from it,” said CEO Michael Rapino in a statement. At the same time, the “average entry price” for concerts was just $33, up 5% from the same period in 2019.
While U.S. inflation is the highest in four decades and inflation-adjusted consumer spending in June the slowest in two years, music fans are proving their willingness to spend for live music. The average ticket price for concerts in 2022 is up 10% relative to 2019 — roughly in line with inflation over that time period. On-site fan spending is up over 20% at Live Nation’s venues — and up 30% at amphitheaters — compared to the same period in 2019. International markets were responsible for 5 million of the 6 million additional fans in the quarter.
Sponsorship revenue benefitted from the high demand for live music. Festival sponsorships more than doubled from the same period in 2019, including nine new festivals in Mexico and Latin America that accounted for about half of the increase.
The remainder of the year and 2023 look strong. Live Nation sold more than 100 million tickets to its concerts this year — more than calendar year 2019. Concert bookings are up 30% for all venue types compared to the same period in 2019. And Live Nation says its 2023 artist pipeline is the biggest ever at the mid-year point. “Fan demand remains strong, with continued growth in ticket buying and on-site spending,” said Rapino. “And given the long-term nature of most of our sponsorship partnerships, our planned sponsorship for the year is now fully committed.”
Live Nation shares rose 3.6% to $101.00 in after-hours trading immediately following the earnings release.
Correction: A previous version of the article said OCESA, the Mexican promoter Live Nation acquired in 2021, was responsible for 5 million of the 6 million additional fans in the quarter. That 5 million gain came from all international markets, not only from OCESA.