Live Nation reports 2023 biggest year ever for concert turnout and ticket sales – while two grassroots music venues close per week

Aprilia Rine

Live Nation reports 2023 biggest year ever for concert turnout and ticket sales – while two grassroots music venues close per week

Entertainment giant Live Nation reported its biggest year yet in 2023, taking into account both concert attendance and ticket sales.

The multinational company, which owns Ticketmaster, published its end-of-year report yesterday (February 22). It stated that live music soared worldwide over those 12 months “from clubs to stadiums”, with 145million fans attending over 50,000 events (up 20 per cent from 2022).

  • READ MORE: 2023 was “worst year for venue closures” while “no one in music industry seems to care”, say MVT

Ticketmaster sold 620million tickets, a 13 per cent increase from the previous year. Its revenue increased by 32 per cent to nearly $3billion.

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Live Nation’s total revenue jumped 36 per cent to $22.7billion during a year that saw huge record-breaking tours from Taylor Swift and Beyoncé. The firm’s operation income, meanwhile, went up by 46 per cent to $1.07billion.

There were 50 per cent more international acts, with tours having 15 per cent more shows on average (both compared to five years ago before COVID brought the live industry to a halt).

Live Nation’s investment in artists increased by over 40 per cent to over $13billion, “promoting more artists at every level from clubs to stadiums, with nearly 7,000 touring artists in 40+ countries”.

Michael Rapino, President and CEO, Live Nation Entertainment, said: “The live music industry reached new heights in 2023, and demand for live music continues to build.

“Our digital world empowers artists to develop global followings, while inspiring fans to crave in-person experiences more than ever. At the same time, the industry is delivering a wider variety of concerts which draws in new audiences, and developing more venues to support a larger show pipeline.”

Live Nation 2023 end-of-year report. CREDIT: Live Nation
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Rapino added: “Against this backdrop, we expect all our businesses to continue growing and adding value to artists and fans as we deliver double-digit operating income and AOI growth again this year, with our profitability compounding by double-digits over the next several years.”

Elsewhere, the report said that over 55million fans attended Venue Nation-operated venues and festivals in 2023 (up 13 per cent). But Live Nation cited “a focus on large theatres and international arenas” as it expands its global venue portfolio.

You can read Live Nation’s 2023 end-of-year report in full here.

It comes after a recent report from the Music Venue Trust (MVT) showed the “disaster” that struck the UK’s grassroots venues last year.

The findings revealed that 125 UK venues abandoned live music in 2023 (approximately two per week) and that over half of them had shut entirely. At the time, MVT CEO Mark Davyd said: “This is a disaster: 16 per cent of the grassroots music venues in this country closed in the last 12 months. It’s just not good enough.”

Some of the more pressing constraints were reported as soaring energy prices, landlords increasing rate amounts, supply costs, business rates, licensing issues, noise complaints and the continuing impacts of COVID-19.

Responding to Live Nation’s 2023 report today (February 23), Davyd said that “all 125” of the affected grassroots venues “could have been saved for somewhere in the region of £3million; about $3.8million. That’s just 0.06% of Live Nation’s additional revenue this year.

“Not their total revenue, their additional revenue. That is the additional revenue Live Nation made in the year those venues closed down […] And even if you show them these maths they still insist that a sustainable grassroots sector is an unaffordable financial burden on the industry.”

He added: “The economic maths of the live music industry is completely bonkers and it cannot possibly continue.”

There have been increasing calls for a ticket levy on larger arena and stadium shows, and investment from the wider industry to save such venues from closure.

Davyd said last month: “If the big companies in this industry don’t get their act together, then hundreds of venues will close. And guess what? They didn’t get their act together and hundreds of venues have closed. So, I’m afraid you are now going to have to answer for this.”

Fans with raised arms at music Festival - stock photo. Credit: Linka A. Odum via GETTY
Fans with raised arms at music Festival – stock photo. CREDIT: Linka A. Odum/Getty

Last February, an antitrust lawsuit that was filed against Live Nation and Ticketmaster was thrown out by a federal appeals court after it was ruled that buyers had waived their right to sue.

A class action suit was filed on behalf of “hundreds of thousands, if not millions” of customers in April 2020, claiming that Live Nation was a “monster [that] must be stopped”.

Ticketmaster also faced controversy in late 2022 after the well-publicised issues surrounding the ticket sale for Taylor Swift’s ‘Eras Tour’. TM said there had been “historically unprecedented demand” for the concerts.

As well as US lawmakers calling for an investigation into the company, two US senators urged the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to answer for “the steps” it was taking to “combat the use and operation of bots in the online ticket marketplace”.

Some fans of Swift later filed a class action lawsuit against Ticketmaster, with plaintiffs accusing the company of violating two laws – the California Cartwright Act and the California Unfair Competition Law – during the first Verified Fan pre-sale. Live Nation president Joe Berchtold blamed cyber attacks for the sale issues.

Additionally, Live Nation CEO Rapino addressed the controversy surrounding the sales for The Cure’s 2023 North American tour last May.

In a bid to keep costs down for fans, the band opted out of Ticketmaster’s dynamic pricing scheme, which frontman Robert Smith said was “a bit of a scam”, and restricted ticket transfers in states where they were legally allowed to do so. But some fans attempting to buy tickets reported that Ticketmaster fees (including service fee, facility charge and order processing fee) exceeded the price of actual tickets, with Smith saying he was “sickened” by this.

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