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NEAR TRUTHS:
IT’S SHOWTIME

According to top agents and managers, 2022 is shaping up to be the biggest year ever for the live side—going a long way to make up for the pandemic-enforced doldrums of 2020 and 2021.

Live Nation set a new record for Q1 operating income, on $1.8b in revenue, more than double the previous record from three years previous. The House of Rapino is on track for double-digit growth compared to 2019, with fan revenue up 30%, sponsorship income up by 83% and another record quarter for Ticketmaster. Despite record-breaking numbers, of course, the recent market volatility has reduced LN's market cap; it closed Monday at $19.2b, with the stock down about 19% over the last five days (it had rebounded somewhat by Tuesday morning).

Even so, arenas, stadiums, ballrooms and clubs are doing boffo business—and as they say in the sector, summer is coming. If you failed to get your act on the road this year, it would seem you missed the gravy train—venue availability became scarce as the most aggressive players plunged ahead in the face of COVID uncertainty. Meanwhile, government officials opened the floodgates, and their decision to permit huge crowds for major sporting events allowed music to go all in.

The three recently completed weekends in the Coachella Valley are said to have grossed north of $300m. Paul Tollett’s Coachella brand is bigger than ever and the most prestigious music event on the planet—even the Grammys are dwarfed by its footprint. The festival, presented—along with fellow desert confab Stagecoach—by Jay Marciano-led AEG, is by far the most culturally vital gathering of its kind. Stagecoach, for its part, is connecting the dots between country, rock, Americana and other genres. This year it also provided a platform for a breakout artist, Warner’s Zach Bryan, whose career is heating up despite the fact that he’s not yet on Country radio.

One top manager claimed 90m people streamed the Coachella fest over its two weekends, half of these from outside North America. Tour crews were hit hard with COVID, but for the most part, headliners’ “the show must go on” attitude paid off. It meant getting that check after two years of crunching costs—with little to no income except for branding (or proceeds from the sale of precious assets). Speaking of those catalogs going on the market, multiples skyrocketed to 25-30-times earnings and valuations increased five or six times during the last decade.

LIVE AND KICKING: Harry Styles’ blazing-hot tour—which now includes 10 stops each in NYC and L.A.—is really a continuation of his last cycle, which was buoyed by his wildly successful Fine Line album and massive singles “Watermelon Sugar” and “Adore You.” The charismatic Brit sold out 42 arena shows in 2021. Because of tour delays and postponements necessitated by COVID, his new cycle is beginning with a smash track and the release of album Harry’s House—creating a perfect storm of ginormous success. The latest additions to his global itinerary put Harry on the road—hitting not only the States but Europe, Mexico, South America, Australia and New Zealand—through March of 2023. How far into the stratosphere will he go?



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