Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino Says Tickets Selling Out Faster Than Ever On Pent-Up Demand; Return To Concerts “A Logical Progression” Of Vaccine Rollout

Live Nation Entertainment CEO Michael Rapino said ticket demand was on an upsurge as vaccines roll out and countries reopen.

“Fans are buying tickets and events are selling out faster than ever,” he said during a call after first quarter financial results that were still grim. Revenue of $239 million was down 76% from $993 million the year before. Net losses ballooned to $300 million from $185 million. Events plunged to 664 from 7,095.

But as with entertainment venues from movie theaters to Broadway things are looking up. The current second quarter will show the first year-on-year improvement since the fourth quarter of 2019. Live Nation said it’s “confidently planning” reopenings in the U.S., particularly for outdoor shows, and expects other major markets to follow this summer.

“We’re just seeing demand beyond any other historic moment,” Rapino said, noting that “Garth Books just this morning broke every Tickemaster record.” Brooks sold over 50,000 tickets in less than 30 minutes for his upcoming concert at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Live Nation said its concert pipeline for 2022 is up double digits from 2019, its sponsorship commitments are double digits and it’s been signing new clients.

In the U.S., Bonnaroo, Electric Daisy and Rolling Loud festivals sold out in record time at full capacity. In the U.K., it has 11 festivals planned this summer, including some of the largest ones — Reading, Leeds and Parklife — where tickets have sold out. Ditto with New Zealand’s largest festival, Rhythm and Vines.

The company will continue to announce new tours as it gets further clarity on reopening timelines. Some announced for later this summer including Dave Matthews, Luke Bryan and Maroon 5. Given the longer lead times associated with global arena and stadium tours, it said, it expects others to start later this year and into 2022. Many artists will have multi-year tours, spanning the U.S., Europe and often either Asia or Latin America, “setting us up for a strong multi-year growth run.”

Live events were among the hardest hit by Covid. The company has cut costs, raised cash and said it has $2.1 billion of available liquidity that will allow it to fund operations through the expected return of concerts starting this summer.

Live Nation owns major venues around the world as well as ticketing giant Ticketmaster.

Last month, a group of prominent House Democrats called for Joe Biden’s administration to investigate the 2010 merger of Live Nation and Ticketmaster, arguing that the combination has “strangled competition in live entertainment ticketing and harmed consumers and must be revisited.”

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