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Live Nation “optimistic” as revenue begins to grow again

By | Published on Friday 7 May 2021

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Live Nation saw concert revenues increase by more than a third in the first quarter of 2021, compared to the last three months of 2020.

Though, of course, that was mainly because of how bad the last quarter of last year was as the COVID shutdown extended. Year-on-year comparisons were much less rosey. But, nevertheless, the live music giant insisted it was optimistic about the year ahead, and the opportunities created by a “significant pent-up demand” among music fans to get back to live events.

After twelve months of signifiant year-on-year revenue falls across the Live Nation business, which topped 95% at one point, any positive numbers are going to be welcome. So, while concert revenues were still down 76% compared the the first quarter of 2020 – before the pandemic properly hit – growth of 34.2% on the final quarter of 2020 is being welcomed as a sign of the green shoots of revival, for Live Nation in particular and the live sector at large.

Praising the COVID vaccine roll-out efforts in the UK and US particularly, CEO Michael Rapino says that the company’s “confidence has increased for our key markets” since its annual results were published in February. The recent boost in revenues, he adds, is due to rapidly increasing demand for tickets for upcoming shows, which has seen a number of Live Nation events sell out in record time.

“Around the world, people are showing the need to get out and socialise once again which reinforces our expectation that a return to concerts will be the logical progression as vaccines are readily available to everyone who wants to get one”, he says. “This is generally already the case in the US where we are confidently planning our reopenings, particularly for outdoor shows, and we expect many of our other major markets will follow this summer”.

“Alongside these trends, we are also seeing the effects of significant pent-up demand as fans are buying tickets and events are selling out faster than ever before”, he goes on. “In the US, Bonnaroo, Electric Daisy and Rolling Loud festivals all sold out in record time at full capacity. In the UK, we have eleven festivals planned for this summer, including our largest ones – Reading, Leeds and Parklife – where tickets have already sold out, and in New Zealand, the country’s largest festival, Rhythm And Vines, also quickly sold out”.

Beyond festivals, Rapino says that he expects global arena and stadium tours to get properly up and running again late this year and early in 2022. “Like so many of you, I’m excited to get back to concerts over the next few months, and even more excited to see what I expect to be a non-stop 2022, that continues roaring into 2023 and beyond”, he concludes. Fingers crossed, eh.

In other Live Nation news, the company has announced that CFO Kathy Willard will retire at the end of June, after 25 years at the company. “Kathy has been here since day one of Live Nation, and on behalf of the entire team, I want to thank her for her remarkable dedication and enormous contributions to our company”, says Rapino. “Kathy’s leadership, vision and financial expertise have driven more than two decades of growth and will forever be part of Live Nation’s journey”.

Willard adds: “It has been an honour to have worked for this innovative and exciting company for so many years. I am truly grateful to my Live Nation colleagues for their partnership, knowledge and friendship. I am proud of the work we have done to position the company for future financial success, and as we return to live shows, I know Joe will do an excellent job leading the company’s finances during one of the most important times in the company’s history”.

Oh yes, I should have said, she will be replaced in the CFO role by Joe Berchtold, who will also continue to be the company’s President.