Live Nation Executives Say Ticket Sales, Fan Spending Remain Strong Despite Economic Headwinds

Despite various economic headwinds, including inflation, we have not seen any pullback in demand,” Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino said during the company’s earnings call on Thursday (Nov. 3). In the third quarter, Live Nation posted record revenue for its concerts division of $5.3 billion as well as the company’s best-ever gross transaction value at its Ticketmaster division of $6.7 billion. Its high-margin sponsorship and advertising division also produced record adjusted operating income of $226 million, up 56% from the same period in 2019.

Looking ahead to 2023, Live Nation is “feeling very good about the attendance levels for next year,” said president and CFO Joe Berchtold. “Our tickets sold for the shows that we have on sale for next year are up consistently across all venue types relative to a year ago.” Excluding rescheduled events, Ticketmaster’s sales for 2023 concerts are up by double digits compared to advance ticket sales at the same point in 2021.

Demand depends on the supply of artist tours, and Live Nation executives believe next year’s tours will have a similar level of quality as this year’s headline tours, which included runs by Bad Bunny, Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Weeknd, among others. “If you were a stadium act, a large selling arena act, you probably debated whether you went out in ‘22 or you went out in ‘23,” said Rapino. “From clubs to stadiums to arenas, it looks like a similar year [in terms of] quality.” Next year, Live Nation will promote tours by Taylor Swift, Blink-182, Shania Twain, Dead & Company, Depeche Mode and the Eagles.  


The warning signs for pending economic doom are everywhere. On Thursday, hedge fund giant Elliott warned of a “global societal collapse” and a further 50% decline in equity markets due to hyperinflation and an end to an “extraordinary” period of cheap money. The same day, the Bank of England warned that the U.K., facing high energy costs and rising interest rates, could suffer its longest-ever recession and a possible doubling of unemployment over the next two years.  

The biggest banks have raised concerns, too. On Wednesday, Citi said the U.S. could fall into a recession in the second half of 2023. JPMorgan Chase & Co. CEO Jamie Dimon said earlier this month the global U.S. economies would hit a recession in mid-2023, although he added the U.S. economy was “actually still doing well” at present.  

The U.S. economy is a grab bag of mixed signals that point to both resilience and stress. U.S. payrolls increased by 261,000 in October. Yet auto loan delinquencies are on the rise, according to TransUnion, and repeated interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve means consumers with credit card balances will pay more in interest.  

But Live Nation’s numbers show fans are spending money on concerts in record numbers. At Live Nation’s U.S. amphitheaters and global festivals, ancillary fan spending — which covers items such as food, beverage, merchandise and parking — in the third quarter increased almost 30% to $38 per fan from the same period in 2019. At U.S. and U.K. theaters, ancillary fan spending increased by over 20% relative to 2019.

Glenn Peoples