Live Nation reported its biggest quarter ever, with revenue up 32 percent year-over-year and a record number of tickets sold year-to-date.
In the third quarter, which is typically the strongest quarter of the year, the company reported revenue of $8.2 billion and operating income of $619 million, up 22 percent compared to last year.
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Live Nation reported 140 million tickets sold for Live Nation shows so far this year, up 17 percent year-over-year and above the full year 2022 total of 121 million. Concert revenue was up 32 percent in the third quarter, reaching $7 billion.
On the Ticketmaster side, the company has sold 257 million fee-bearing tickets year-to-date, up 22 percent year-over-year. In the third quarter, the company sold 90 million of those fee bearing tickets and revenue in the segment was up 57 percent year-over-year to reach $833 million.
Going into 2024, Live Nation expects continued momentum, helped by a strong concert calendar and with expected show count for large venues up double digits so far. Asked whether numbers next year can match the demand seemingly propelled by the Taylor Swift and Beyoncé tours, Live Nation President and CFO Joe Berchtold said that the company is not dependent on single artists (while noting that the company promoted the Beyoncé tour but not Swift).
“When we look at any artists across Ticketmaster/Live Nation, no artist is going to account for more than 1% of the tickets, so no one or two will ever hurt us year over year. It’s about our macro-portfolio of artists and tours, and we have a very good pipe as we’ve been saying for next year,” he said.
“Today we delivered our strongest quarter ever and are on pace for a record 2023, driven in good part by the acceleration of structural growth in the live entertainment industry. While we have benefitted from tailwinds for many years, it has accelerated due to the globalization of our business along with a fundamental shift in consumer spending habits toward experiences. With the majority of opportunity still untapped from Milan to Bogotá to Tokyo and beyond, we expect the industry will continue growing in 2024 and for years to come,” said Michael Rapino, President and CEO, Live Nation Entertainment.
While it has been a year of breakout growth, Live Nation has also been under scrutiny since its sale of tickets for the Taylor Swift’s Eras tour in the U.S. in the fall. Consumers spoke out about errors and long wait times while trying to buy tickets (which Live Nation attributed to high demand, bots and a cyber attack), and lawmakers held a congressional hearing focused on whether the Live Nation/Ticketmaster combination is a monopoly). The company said it has largely addressed those issues, including with the sale of tickets for the Beyoncé tour, by spreading out the on sale times.
Live Nation is also facing an investigation by the Department of Justice. However, Berchtold said in September that he believes the investigation does not concern the merger of Live Nation and Ticketmaster, but rather certain business practices.
Asked for an update on this Thursday, Berchtold said he believes the investigation is in its middle stages and that the company is completing document productions, but hasn’t started depositions.
“Not surprisingly, it’s our impression that the DOJ is taking at least the first level look at almost everything that our competitors complain about, and from there, they look further at some issues and not others and if they tell us they have a problem with something we talk to them about it. But let me emphasize that as far as we can tell, nobody thinks that the fundamentals that drive our promotions business are unlawful. We pay top dollar to artists and provide them with top notch tour support and those are good things,” he said.
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