Live Nation just sold 170,000 tickets for 2021 UK summer festivals… within three days

Credit: Live Nation/press

MBW’s Stat Of The Week is a series in which we highlight a data point that deserves the attention of the global music industry. Stat Of the Week is supported by Cinq Music Group, a technology-driven record label, distribution, and rights management company.

There is much debate circling around “data vs. dates” in the live music business right now.

Some advocate for an abundance of caution as leading markets begin to vaccinate their way out of Covid-19 lockdowns. Others argue that, for a live music industry that’s been nearly completely devastated by the impact of coronavirus, a full-scale re-opening can’t come soon enough.

The more optimistic side of this discussion points to early data on the effectiveness and speedy roll-out of vaccinations in the UK – something that promises to pack fields with festival-goers far earlier than many feared. In addition, say the optimists, the UK’s vaccination success could be further bolstered by test screenings from events themselves if required.

Wherever you sit on this conversation, one thing’s for sure: Young music fans are craving a party.

Earlier this week, the British government, buoyed by early good news on a brisk roll-out of vaccinations in the UK, set out a roadmap that, as things stand, would see the re-opening of large music events in the UK, with no audience limit, on June 21.

Live Nation and its subsidiary, Festival Republic, didn’t hang about after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson made this announcement on Monday (February 22).

The companies quickly announced that their Reading & Leeds festival – an annual fest taking place across two locations in the UK with a combined capacity of around 180,000 – would be going ahead between August 27 and 29 this year, and that tickets were on sale.

A tweet from the official Reading & Leeds account read: Following the government’s recent announcement, we can’t wait to get back to the fields this summer. LET’S GO.

One of this year’s headliners, Liam Gallagher, summed up the sentiment rather more succinctly: READING n LEEDS c’mon you fuckers LG x

MBW’s Stat Of The Week: Following a government announcement suggesting large-scale UK events will be able to re-open in June, two Live Nation festivals – Reading & Leeds and Creamfields – have jointly sold 170,000 tickets in just three days.

As things stand right now (7am ET, February 26), all weekend and day tickets for Reading have completely sold out. Weekend and Saturday tickets for Leeds have also sold out, with just one-day tickets for Friday and Sunday available.

Meanwhile, another major Live Nation UK festival – electronic music-centric Creamfields – also put tickets up on sale this week. Taking place between August 26 and 29, Creamfields, which dubs itself “THE party of the summer”, has announced in the past 24 hours that its 2021 event has completely sold out “in record-breaking time”.

Yesterday (February 25), Live Nation CEO, Michael Rapino, delivered some astonishing numbers regarding demand for both of these festivals.

Speaking on Live Nation’s Q4 2020 earnings call, Rapino confirmed that Reading & Leeds had sold 100,000 tickets in 72 hours this week, and that Creamfields had sold its entire 70,000 capacity out in just 48 hours.

Rapino told analysts: “We are seeing… what we’ve been talking about: [fans] are excited to get back to the show as soon as we get the green lights in these markets to open up.”

After a year of uncertainty, Creamfields and Reading & Leeds have been celebrating their rapid ticket sales on social media this week

This quick-fire sell-out of events in the UK has understandably put Rapino in optimistic mood.

He was asked yesterday about recent news regarding arenas in New York re-opening with a 10% capacity limit.

Replied Rapino: “[We] have not, to date, done a lot of work in the 0% to 50% capacity business. We don’t see that as a viable model to ramp back up [considering the] fixed cost.”

Instead, Rapino talked of his confidence – based on conversations with governors in key US states – that “a clear outline to a 75% to 100%” capacity for outdoor US events in 2021 was looking likely to be green-lit.

“[We] think we’re better off waiting for a high bar capacity moment in most of the states to ramp up and talk to the artists about getting paid properly,” said Rapino, adding the prospect of a 75%-plus capacity re-opening in the largest US markets was “within sight”.

In other positive news for Live Nation investors, Rapino noted that the refund rate for rescheduled Live Nation concerts remained unchanged in Q4 2020 at 17% – the same number the company saw in the prior quarter.

The Live Nation exec noted that “for the tours that have gone through a second refund window, the refund levels were generally much lower for [that] second window as the casual fans requested their refunds during the first window”.

Rapino further confirmed that for those postponed festivals where fans have been able to retain their tickets for the same event in 2022, 63% of fans have held on to their tickets rather than requesting refunds.

According to the BBC, over 18.6 million people in the UK have now received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine – equivalent to one in three adults in the market.

In addition to Liam Gallagher, headliners of Reading & Leeds 2021 include Post Malone, Stormzy, and Queens Of The Stone Age.

Melvin Benn, the MD of Festival Republic, told NME last month: “The [UK] Prime Minister has said that 88% of hospitalizations and deaths will disappear once the over-70s and frontline workers are vaccinated. The Health Secretary said: ‘When that’s done, cry freedom’. I’m crying freedom. At that point, I’m saying let’s get on with it.”

Cinq Music Group’s repertoire has won Grammy awards, dozens of Gold and Platinum RIAA certifications, and numerous No.1 chart positions on a variety of Billboard charts. Its repertoire includes heavyweights such as Bad Bunny, Janet Jackson, Daddy Yankee, T.I., Sean Kingston, Anuel, and hundreds more.Music Business Worldwide

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