Oz concert revenue up, but attendance drops

Rising ticket prices may be turning audiences away

BRISBANE -- Australia's live entertainment circuit made more money in 2009, but sold fewer tickets, and the cost of going to concerts continues to rise.

That's the low-down of Live Performance Australia's latest "Ticket Attendance and Revenue Survey." According to the report, total revenue reached AUS$1.083 billion ($1.01 billion) in 2009, up 2.1% from the previous year. More than two-thirds of that money was generated in the states of New South Wales and Victoria.

Also during the year, upwards of 15.19 million tickets were distributed for live entertainment events around the country, down almost 4% on the 2008 level while the cost of the average ticket price rose 5.2% to AUS$80.57 Australian.

Although the headline figure still tops the AUS$1 billion mark, it's some way from the AUS$1.22 billion figure reported in 2007.

The survey shows that the live business "remains strong," explains the trade association's CEO Evelyn Richardson, who attributes the dip to "flow on from the global financial crisis in 2008 and 2009. Industry activity has "stabilized," she adds, "and we remain optimistic that we will see an upward trend again in 2010."

The non-classical area -- essentially rock and pop concerts -- enjoyed a boom in 2009, largely due to large national tours by Pink, Britney Spears and Coldplay, according to the survey. All told, the non-classical category generated AUS$460 million, up 18.3% on the previous year, on 4.68 million tickets sold, up 8.1%. The average ticket price rose 7.2% to AUS$108.

Accountancy giant Ernst and Young compiled the data on behalf of LPA, drawing statistics from a sample which included ticketing firms Ticketmaster and Ticketek, and various performing arts companies. Richardson admits the LPA's survey most up-to-date numbers are conservative because its survey doesn't yet capture much data from regional venues and self-ticketed events. And, admittedly, festivals and non-classical concerts are under-reported.

To address this, the trade body has begun working with paperless ticketing firm Moshtix and the Australasian Performing Right Association to grab a more comprehensive picture of the smaller venue contemporary music scene.
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