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Live Nation continues to see fans flock to its concerts and events, as overall fourth quarter revenues rose 59 percent to $4.29 billion.
The Ticketmaster and Roc Nation owner posted a fourth quarter operating loss of $119.9 million, compared to a year-earlier operating loss of $124.5 million. For full year 2022, Live Nation reported more than 121 million patrons attended around 43,600 events, as total full year revenues rose 44 percent to $16.7 billion.
In the three months to Dec. 31, 2022, the Ticketmaster parent recorded overall concert revenue of $3.39 billion, against a year-earlier $2.04 billion, as Live Nation pointed to a continuing post-pandemic recovery in concert-going, most prominently in key international festival markets like the UK, the rest of Europe and Latin America.
During the fourth quarter, Live Nation posted $651.3 million in ticketing revenues, against a year-earlier $487.7 million. In the current financial quarter and the rest of 2023, Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino told analysts during an after-market call that concert ticket sales in the U.S. and internationally had not yet been impacted by a recessionary threat to consumer spending.
He added Ticketmaster was doing well with strong ticket demand for stadium sales, whether for big or niche festivals, and for smaller venues like nightclubs. “We think this is going to be a continuous boom year,” Rapino insisted.
Also Thursday, the Ticketmaster parent responded to a federal investigation into alleged industry ticket price fixing and collusion by offering support to a so-called Fair Ticketing Act urged by concert fans and artists. The federal probe followed a consumer backlash prompted by a ticketing fiasco surrounding the botched verified fan presale for Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour, and a cancellation of the general ticket sale.
Ticketmaster experienced errors and site slowdowns during its Taylor Swift presale for verified fans. Around two dozen Swift fans filed a complaint in L.A. County Superior Court against Ticketmaster and parent Live Nation asserting claims including breach of contract, intentional misrepresentation, fraud, antitrust violations and unfair competition.
“To truly protect consumers, Congress should make a federal law that backstops artist’s ability to control their tickets. Together, we can create a FAIR system that benefits everyone,” Live Nation said in a statement on Thursday that preceded the unveiling of its latest financial results.
“Artists create their music and their concerts. It’s only fair that they create their ticketing rules, too. We will always be on the side of the artist, who are the best advocates for their careers and their fan base,” Michael Rapino, president and CEO of Live Nation, added in a statement that accompanied his latest financial results that he echoed during the analyst call.
“We remain in constant conversations with DOJ (Department of Justice) monitors and do not believe there have been any violations on ticketing reforms,” the Live Nation chief later said on an analyst call. Rapino argued stadiums for the NFL’s Super Bowl game each year saw it as a “badge of honor” if game tickets went for $5,000 or $6,000 each.
“But concerts are still an incredibly cheap overall experience,” Rapino told analysts, even if fans will pay more for a concert tickets once sold by the Ticketmaster behemoth, and that scalpers and bots are responsible for much of that pricing inflation, and in particular for the Taylor Swift ticketing fiasco.
“Scalpers have done a great job hijacking the narrative… We’re going to move forward this year more aggressively to tell the artists’ side of the story,” Live Nation CFO Joe Berchtold told analysts as artists are likely to have more latitude in the future on how they want to sell concert and event tickets.
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