The mechanism of live acts is a complicated affair. Live acts’ well-being depends on various factors ranging from touring artists, competitive agencies, promoters, sponsors, venues, new revenue streams, international expansions, and mega-festivals.
PwC revealed in their Global Entertainment & Media Outlook report last year, that from 2018 to 2023, the total global E&M revenue is set to see a growth of 4.3% CAGR. This means the E&M industry will be valued at $2.6 trillion by the end of this forecast. PwC also said that this pace is close to historical trends, even as shifting consumer behaviours are reshaping the industry.
This prediction included ticket sales and sponsorship where the live music business’ total revenue is estimated to touch $31 billion in the next four years. In 2017 alone, the live concert industry generated 16% more revenue over 2016, bringing in $5.7 billion.
Hence, as expected, the PwC revelation for 2018 saw a tremendous upward movement in sales of tickets for live acts.
Global promoters like Live Nation reported their revenue in the first quarter of 2019 to have crossed $1.7 billion. Live Nation attributed the growth primarily to arena and theatre shows which were each up over a million fans. Earlier, Live Nation reported that 2018 was its eighth consecutive year of record results, with ticketing activity rising by 14% and attendances rising by 8% from 2017.
Breaking down of the live music industry Y-o-Y
With the sale of 608,766 total tickets for an average price of $135.71, Elton John has been the highest-grossing act of 2019. According to Pollstar, the singer/songwriter, currently on his farewell tour for his biopic Rocketman, generated $82.6 million across 56 shows worldwide.
P!nk is at number 2 with $81.8 million and a total ticket sale of 573,040 for an average ticket price of $142.71. Sequentially, Justin Timberlake ($75.5 million), Metallica ($69.7 million), and Fleetwood Mac ($67.7 million) were the top 5 touring artists for the first half of 2019.
Comparing the 2018 and 2019 mid-year reports, evidently, the business in 2018 indicated a stronger live act market. 2018 grossed $972.2 million just in the first half of the year from the Top 10 acts alone. While the Top 10 acts within the first half of 2019 grossed $660.8 million. That is a difference of $311.4 million or a 32% (app) dip in business. Additionally, the average ticket price for the Top 10 live acts in 2019 ($111.5) was lower than in 2018 ($127.1).
What made 2018 the bigger year for the touring business?
The global landscape in 2018 included some of the biggest names in the business. The highest-grossing act of 2018 was by Ed Sheeran whose tour grossed a massive $213.9 million. This was again a huge increase of 41.2% over 2017’s No. 1 Guns N’ Roses, which tallied $151.5 million.
In 2018, Ed Sheeran was the No. 1 artist with the highest gross ever recorded for a touring artist in a single year. This surpassed the previous year record chart and topped $100 million in sales. Ed’s gross revenue surpassed $2 billion from just the Top 10 tours alone.
The Top 10 worldwide live acts of 2017 grossed $802.2 million. It included Guns N’ Roses, U2, Justin Beiber, Metallica, Depeche Mode, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Adele, Ed Sheeran, Eric Church, and Bruno Mars. The ticket sales of all these acts reached a soaring 84,17,291 in total. The mere difference in the sale of total tickets in 2017 and 2018 (mid-year) was 18966.
Economics of the live music business in 2017
In 2017, the band U2 generated the year’s top concert gross with $32.8 million from 278,718 fans over four shows in Sao Paulo, Brazil. U2 so far has the highest grossing tour worldwide at $316 million and the band’s North American segment also topped the chart at $176.1 million.
Guns N’ Roses generated an industry-leading $151.5 million gross with a total sale of 2,679,962 tickets being the only act to sell more than 1 million tickets that year. Coldplay followed suit with a total sale of 2,458,423 tickets.
Bruno Mars, Metallica, Depeche Mode, Paul McCartney, Ed Sheeran, The Rolling Stone and Garth Brooks ranked sequentially.
Coachella, the same year generated the single biggest festival gross with $114.6 million over its two weekends. In addition to the usual touring suspects, it was a breakout year for new arena headliners viz., The Weeknd, Ariana Grande, Kendrick Lamar, and Chris Stapleton.
2019’s half-year worldwide figure for the Top 100 tours stood at $2.06 billion which is a 26.8% or $752 million dip, year-on-year. The average total ticket for 2019, stood at 6,16,028 for the Top 10 global acts. This was again a decrease from the previous year’s figure of 8,39,833.
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