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ANOTHER RECORD
YEAR FOR LIVE NATION

Double-digit growth in concert attendance, ticket sales and sponsorships has led Live Nation to an eighth consecutive year of record results.

Revenue was up 11% to $10.8 billion in. 2018, the company announced Thursday. Concerts brought in $8.77b, an 11% rise, while ticketing rose 13% to 1.53b and sponsorship was up 13% to $504m.  The company’s adjusted operating income hit $829.1m.

The company promoted 35,000 shows in 40 countries seen by 93m people, a rise of 7m over 2017. Of that total, 24,186 were staged in North America, an 18% spike over 2017.

President and CEO Michael Rapino said the growth in the global concerts business drove growth in “our high-margin venue, sponsorship and ticketing businesses.”

In his prepared statement, Rapino said the 13 markets where LN promotes concerts but does not have a substantial ticketing operation are prime targets for future growth. Then he drilled down, noting that international markets generally have a fee of 10% on top of the ticket price as opposed to approximately 20% in North America.

“They’re 15 years behind,” he said on a conference call. “There’s great pricing potential over the next 10 years” as service fees will be going up as more and more venues convert to online ticket sales and delivery.

Speaking of tickets, Ticketmaster’s fee-bearing gross transaction value ("GTV") was up 14% with a total platform GTV of $33b. The company emphasized its Presence digital ticketing system, which is in more than 200 venues and is expected to be in use at 500 places by the end of the year.

“In 2019, I expect us to further extend our global concerts position while enhancing our on-site hospitality business and capturing additional pricing opportunities,” Rapino said. “Our sponsorship business will continue driving double-digit growth as more brands look for that direct connection with music fans. And as Ticketmaster continues its transformation to a truly digital ecosystem, it will also benefit from continued growth in concert ticket sales and further expansion of our global footprint.”

Live Nation’s footprint in the U.S. down the road may include former shopping malls. Rapino says the company is looking at the real estate market more than ever as owners of mall properties struggle to stay open.

Previously, Live Nation would have been happy to book and ticket a venue. Now they want ownership.

“If you are a developer right now, with a shopping mall to a development site, you no longer are probably asking the movie theater to be your tenant. You come to Live Nation saying, ‘I'd love to build a 2,000 seat or 4,000 seat’ [theater]. I'd love to be part of the development because that's the vibrant part of the experience we're creating.

“When those meetings happen,” Rapino added, “we're not happy just to ticket the building, we want to have equity value and operate and run it to maximize all of the value. … There are times we're going to look at hero strategies and real estate where our content is the entire reason the building is being financed.

“We should capture not just the content, not just the food and beverage, but the equity value of the real estate holdings over time, too. … You'll see us explore more leveraging of our content.”

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