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Live Nation and Verizon Strike 5G Partnership

The future of the concert business is a 5G-enabled smartphone. Enter Verizon.

Live Nation and Verizon announced a multi-pronged partnership on Monday that will help the leading concert promoter sell tickets and potentially reach more than 100 million mobile and broadband customers in the U.S.

Most notably, Verizon is outfitting select Live Nation venues — including the renamed Irving Plaza Powered by Verizon 5G in New York City and The Wiltern in Los Angeles — with 5G Ultra Wide broadband access meant for large scale events that will improve download speeds up to 10 times over 4G technology.

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“Predicated on technology and our massive consumer base, this partnership will elevate the ecosystem of music – how fans engage, how artists produce and perform, and how venues deliver enhanced in-person experiences and scale them digitally,” Verizon chairman and CEO Hans Vestberg said in a statement.

In addition, Verizon has launched First Access, a service with special access to pre-order tickets to Live Nation tours, that resides within its rewards platform, Verizon Up. The debut First Access event, The Weeknd’s After Hours Til Dawn Stadium Tour, went on sale in early March. Additional First Access tours will include Dierks Bentley, Imagine Dragons and Rosalía.

Later in 2022, Verizon will also launch a streaming platform called +play that will give its customers exclusive access to select artists’ livestreamed concerts on Veeps, the live streaming platform Live Nation acquired in Jan. 2021. +play, announced on March 3, is an entertainment hub that gives Verizon customers a single place to manage subscriptions to Netflix, Disney+, discovery+, Peloton and other streaming services.

By wiring venues for 5G and incorporating streaming technologies, Live Nation could begin to change the concert experience for fans, artists, promoters and venues. In an interview on CNBC Monday morning, Rapino said “we can now start figuring out ways we can engage with that customer on site from upgrades to special merchandise to special access,” he added. That opens possibilities to integrate its Veeps technology to offer value-add products, such as live streaming with alternate camera angles, that require faster 5G speeds. Verizon’s press release teased that Irving Plaza Powered by Verizon 5G will provide “special access to Verizon Up members and provide an interactive experience for fans.”

Having the ability to sell tickets to Verizon customers is a marketing bonanza for Live Nation. Although it gets the majority of its revenue from its concert business, Live Nation’s ticketing company, Ticketmaster, is the single-largest contributor to its bottom line. In 2021, Ticketmaster had adjusted operating income of $421 million compared to a company-wide AOI of $330 million and a $221-million loss for the concerts division.