Live Nation revenues fell 79% year-on-year in Q1, but it says events are now ‘selling out faster than ever before’

Credit: Live Nation/press

In the full year of 2020 Live Nation‘s revenues fell 84% as its concerts business’s annual revenues tumbled by nearly $8 billion due to the pandemic.

But after a gloomy year for the live music industry, the company now says that it is “seeing the effects of significant pent-up demand” – as successful vaccination programs in the UK and US in particular start to translate into the easing of Covid restrictions and the return of live music.

According to Live Nation’s newly-published financial results for the three months to end of March, it posted $290 million in Q1 2021, a figure that was down by 79% year-on-year.

Live Nation’s concert business and ticketing business generated $239m and $28m respectively in Q1, down 76% and 90% respectively compared to the same quarter in 2020.

Writing to shareholders this week, Live Nation President and CEO Michael Rapino struck an optimistic tone about the company’s fortunes over the coming months, stating that “fans are buying tickets and events are selling out faster than ever before”.

Rapino also said that the company’s “sponsorship pipeline of committed activity” for 2022 is already up “double digits” compared to the same time in 2019 for 2020.

At the end of the first quarter of 2021, Live Nation had total cash and cash equivalents of $3 billion, including $1.1 billion of free cash.

Live Nation reports that this free cash, along with $964m of available debt capacity, gives the company $2.1 billion of total available liquidity.

The company says that it “believes this level of liquidity allows [us] to fund operations until the expected return of concerts beginning in the summer of 2021, preceded by ticket sales earlier in the year”.

Live Nation reports that its global refund rate for concerts that are rescheduled “and are in or have gone through a refund window” was 17% in Q1 2021.

For Live Nation’s festivals, where fans can retain their tickets for the rescheduled events, the company reports that approximately 65% of fans are keeping their tickets.

Across both concerts and festivals, since March 2020, Live Nation reports to have refunded $295m for rescheduled concerts and $920m for canceled concerts.

Of this $1.2bn total, Live Nation says that $495m was from funds held by third-party venues and $720m was from Live Nation-held funds.

The company says that it still has some shows in the process of rescheduling, or that are rescheduled but not yet offering refunds.

Based on “current and estimated future impacted events and fan behavior”, Live Nation says that it has recorded $89m in estimated additional fan refunds from Live Nation-held funds as of March 31, 2021.

“Like so many of you, I’m excited to get back to concerts over the next few months, and even more excited to see what I expect to be a non-stop 2022, that continues roaring into 2023 and beyond.”

Michael Rapino, Live Nation

“When we reported our 2020 results in February, I was optimistic that we would soon be returning to live events, and since then, our confidence has increased for our key markets,” added Michael Rapino in his letter to investors this week.

“In the US, over 40% of the population has received at least one vaccine dose and most states are now fully or partially reopen with more restrictions being lifted daily.

“In the UK, over 50% of the population has received at least one vaccine dose and their reopening roadmap is tracking to plan.

“Although Europe remains a few months behind on vaccinations, they are progressing and recent discussions about reopening to international visitors this summer are encouraging.”

He added: “Around the world, people are showing the need to get out and socialize once again which reinforces our expectation that a return to concerts will be the logical progression as vaccines are readily available to everyone who wants to get one.

“This is generally already the case in the US where we are confidently planning our reopenings, particularly for outdoor shows, and we expect many of our other major markets will follow this summer.”

Added Rapino: “Complementing our event pipeline, Ticketmaster continues to build its global client base to further accelerate its growth. This year, we have already added new clients representing over 5 million net new fee-bearing tickets, which we expect to grow further throughout the year as more venues prepare for 2022. With Ticketmaster’s client base increasingly shifting to digital ticketing, we will continue to enhance our offerings, ranging from upsell and improved advertising opportunities, as well as blockchain and NFT ability on the Ticketmaster platform.

“Our brand partners remain engaged and are responding well to our reopening, and like our concerts business, our sponsorship pipeline of committed activity for 2022 is up double digits for next year relative to where it was at this time pre-pandemic in 2019 for 2020.

“Like so many of you, I’m excited to get back to concerts over the next few months, and even more excited to see what I expect to be a non-stop 2022, that continues roaring into 2023 and beyond.”Music Business Worldwide