Live Nation reports 2023 biggest year ever for concert turnout and ticket sales

<span>Taylor Swift performs at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Melbourne, Australia, on 16 February 2024.</span><span>Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP</span>
Taylor Swift performs at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Melbourne, Australia, on 16 February 2024.Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP

Live Nation, the entertainment giant that owns Ticketmaster, reported its biggest year ever in 2023, in terms of both attendance and ticket sales.

In its end-of-year report, the company, currently the subject of an antitrust investigation by the US justice department, said concert attendance was up by 20% compared to 2022, with more than 145 million fans attending more than 50,000 events. Ticketmaster sold 620m tickets, up 13% compared to the year prior.

During the year, which saw headline-grabbing international tours from such mega-artists as Taylor Swift and Beyoncé, the company’s total revenue increased 36% to $22.7bn, while operating income went up 46% to $1.07bn.

The increase in shows and attendance also translated into double-digit increases in ancillary sales for arenas, amphitheaters and other venue types, according to the company. The report also highlighted the global industry expansion in its blockbuster year, with 50% more international acts in the top 50 tours, and 15% more shows on average, compared to five years ago – before the Covid pandemic brought the live-events industry to a halt.

Though the industry has more than rebounded since then, there are still major concerns for Live Nation’s business, namely the ongoing antitrust investigation and outrage over Ticketmaster’s mishandling of sales for Swift’s Eras tour, which left many fans empty-handed, crashed the site and sent resale prices soaring. Several Swift fans sued Ticketmaster for “fraud, price-fixing and antitrust violations”, alleging that “intentional deception” allowed scalpers to buy the majority of tickets; within hours of the first sale, tickets were being resold on secondary seller sites for as much as $22,000 (£18,000).

Related: US senators introduce ‘fans first’ live-event ticketing reform bill

The debacle led a bipartisan group of six US senators to introduce the Fans First Act in December. The proposed legislation would increase transparency in ticket sales, protect consumers from fake or overpriced tickets, and build accountability measures for bad actors. The bill would also strengthen the Better Online Ticket Sales (Bots) Act, signed into law in 2016, to further prohibit the use of bots to purchase tickets online; it would impose civil penalties on illegal resales and establish a website for fans to file complaints monitored by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

This year seems poised to be equally robust in terms of ticket sales, with the second international and domestic legs of the Eras tour, as well as tours from internationally popular artists such as Jennifer Lopez, Drake, Bad Bunny and Olivia Rodrigo, among others.

“The live music industry reached new heights in 2023, and demand for live music continues to build,” said Michael Rapino, the president and CEO of Live Nation, in a statement accompanying the report. “Our digital world empowers artists to develop global followings, while inspiring fans to crave in-person experiences more than ever. At the same time, the industry is delivering a wider variety of concerts which draws in new audiences, and developing more venues to support a larger show pipeline.”

He added: “Against this backdrop, we expect all our businesses to continue growing and adding value to artists and fans as we deliver double-digit operating income and AOI growth again this year, with our profitability compounding by double-digits over the next several years.”