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RETURN OF CONCERTS PUTS LIVE NATION ON RECORD PACE

Live Nation President & CEO Michael Rapino has announced that all divisions of Live Nation are back on growth trajectories—2021’s revenue hit $6.3b and ticketing had a record quarter at the close of the year.

Ticketmaster posted its best quarter ever in gross transaction value in Q4, and 45m tickets have already been sold for 2022 shows, with pricing on Top 10 tours up more than 20% vs. 2019.

Those numbers impressed investors who pushed up the stock nearly $9 in the after-hours market. It opened today at $112.38 and immediately shot up over $121 a share, 7% higher than Wednesday's closing price.

Live Nation put on 17,000 concerts attended by 35m fans in 2021, mainly in the U.S. and U.K. More than 15m people attended outdoor events—at festivals, amphitheaters and stadiums—in the last five months of 2021, nearly 25% more than during the same period of 2019. The extension of the amphitheater season and the moving of several festivals to the fall helped prop up some of those numbers. 

The demand for concerts was evident in 2021’s Q4 revenue, which hit $2.7b, a dramatic increase from 2020’s COVID-affected $237m. Ticket prices were up 11% in the quarter vs. 2019 Q4 globally, up 14% in North America.

“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,” Rapino said on a call with stock analysts.

In comparison to 2019, the company reports, confirmed show count is up 30% through February; concert-ticket sales are up 45% through mid-February; and sponsorship commitments are up by double digits, with more than 80% of planned revenue for the year already committed. Average per-fan on-site spending at amphitheaters, festivals and theaters and clubs was also up double digits for the year relative to 2019 levels.

The number of larger-scale shows for the year is up 30% over 2019. Eight artists have already sold more than 500k tickets, including Bad Bunny, Dua Lipa and Billie Eilish, and the Top 10 sellers are seeing a 20% spike in ticket prices, largely due to increases in platinum tickets. “Through the ramp-up, we saw demand-driven price increases, particularly with platinum and other front-of-the-house ticket pricing,” Rapino said. “Fans continue to seek the best tickets, and the ongoing rapid growth of the secondary market indicates there’s more room to grow.”  

Live Nation President & CFO Joe Berchtold refuted recent reports that no-show levels at concerts are topping 20%, saying it’s “reporting by anecdote.” Arena shows were attended by 91% of ticket buyers in the first six weeks of 2022 vs. 93% in 2019. Theaters and clubs nonetheless reported 83% in ’22 vs. 97% in ’19.

Outside North America, Rapino figures 2022 will see 70-80% of 2019's business, with the Pacific Rim expected to be the most heavily affected.   

Live Nation added 31 venues in 2021, taking the company to 320 globally, which Rapino says will help it grow the show count more rapidly this year and drive increased on-site spending.

As for 2023, Berchtold said Live Nation has 30 tours in the pipeline. Most years that would be five to 10. 

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