Aussie Live Scene As Big As Movie Biz

The inaugural report by the Australian Entertainment Industry Association (AEIA) on live event ticket attendance and revenue has proven something that local promoters have long suspected – the sector is larger than official figures suggested.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ most recent survey of employing music and theatre production organisations (2002/2003) reported that box office income was $331.6 million (US$257.1 million).

But the AEIA’s figures, drawn directly from ticketing companies, show that last year, the sector grossed $689.6 million (US$534.7 million) with 12.5 million tickets sold. The survey contains quarterly and annual totals of revenue and attendance across 10 event categories, including non-classical (contemporary) music, musical theatre, festivals and opera.

According to the report, shows put on by commercial promoters – as in musicals, rock concerts, and theatre – account for 75.4 percent of gross revenue. The high arts draw less people: Opera creates 9.1 percent of gross revenue, classical music 6.1 percent, and ballet and dance 4.4 percent.

According to the AEIA, the figures prove that the live scene is as big as the movie sector. Copies of the report are on

Concert promoters are reporting a successful summer and autumn, especially with baby boomer acts. About $100 million was turned over in this period.

For instance, acts like Bette Midler (who toured for Garry Van Egmond, Jack Utsick and Michael Chugg Entertainment) and Cher (who toured for Michael Coppel Presents) shifted 90,000 and 125,000 tickets, respectively, while their latest record sales were less than half that. Promoters tip that more acts will tour to combat declining recording income.

— Bryan Jones