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Live Nation upbeat as it publishes its 2021 figures

By | Published on Thursday 24 February 2022

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Live Nation was upbeat yesterday as it published its financial reports for 2021. Obviously, last year was still majorly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning the live music giant’s total revenues were significantly down compared to 2019.

However, they were up more than threefold compared to 2020, with operations in the US and UK in particular slowly getting back to normal in the second half of the year, even with the blip caused by the omicron variant of the coronavirus right at the end of 2021.

In his statement accompanying Live Nation figures for 2021 at large – as well as the final quarter of the year – the company’s CEO Michael Rapino writes: “The year started in the midst of the pandemic, but by summer fans were returning to shows, and by the end of the year, we had a record pipeline of concerts, ticket sales and advertising commitments for 2022”.

“Restarting our concerts business in the second half of the year”, he goes on, “we put on over 17,000 concerts for 35 million fans in 2021, mainly in our US and UK markets. In the final five months of the year, in the US and UK, we had over 15 million fans attend our outdoor events – festivals, stadiums and amphitheaters – nearly 25% higher than during the same period in 2019”.

And in those markets – like England and the US – where COVID restrictions were sufficiently relaxed to allow shows to go ahead by summer 2021, ticket-buyers were spending more money.

“We saw demand driven price increases”, Rapino adds, “particularly with platinum and other front of the house ticket pricing. Fans on-site also continued spending more, with average per fan revenue up double-digits for the year relative to 2019 levels, across each of amphitheaters, festivals and theatre and clubs”.

And the brand partnerships side of the business is also getting back to normal, he says. “Sponsorship and advertising … income … was roughly the same for the second half of 2021 as it was in 2019, which was a record level. This interest came from a mix of expanding long-term relationships with brands like Bacardi, Heineken and O2, as well as adding new brand partners including Coinbase, Hulu and Cinch”.

Of course, COVID restrictions were still in force in many countries – and even in those markets where full capacity shows were possible, cancellations were still more common as and when artists and crew contracted the virus – meaning 2021 was still a restricted year for Live Nation. Total revenues came in at $6.27 billion, compared to $11.55 billion in 2019.

However, despite there still being plenty of doom and gloom for the live sector at large throughout last year, for Live Nation the post-pandemic recovery definitely got underway. And things are looking good for 2022, Rapino insists, citing sales through the company’s ticketing business Ticketmaster as justification for that optimism.

“With the strength in ticket sales”, he writes, “we are seeing every leading indicator for 2022 up relative to 2019, reinforcing our confidence that we will have a record year in 2022 that sets us up for growth over the next several years”.

“The two year wait for artists and fans is over”, he concludes. “Never have the tailwinds to our business been so strong, and I believe this is just the start of what will be the strongest multi-year period ever for the concert industry”.