Aussie Market Buoyant Through ’07

The Australian touring market continued to be buoyant through 2007, growing by an estimated 10 percent from the previous year.

The strong Australian dollar made the circuit more viable than ever before, while consumers discovering new acts on the Internet were eager to experience them live.

Pink shifted 225,000 tickets for Michael Coppel Presents and set a new indoor record for a female performer.

It was definitely Coppel’s year: He had the other three big tours of the year, including British comedy duo Little Britain, which has a hit TV show (135,000 tickets); Red Hot Chili Peppers (130,000); and Eric Clapton (125,000).

"It was MCP’s best year ever," said Coppel, whose company turned over more than A$200 million in 2007.

Other major tours included Justin Timberlake (120,000 tickets), Elton John (100,000), Gwen Stefani (95,000), Roger Waters (90,000), "War Of The Worlds" (90,000) and Bob Dylan (75,000).

"Australia’s back on the major international touring circuit," Frontier Touring’s Michael Gudinski said. "We’re getting the bands when they’re hot. They’re touring more, and in shorter periods, so they can be in as many territories as possible near the release of their albums."

But promoters warned that spiraling ticket prices could burst the touring bubble.

Festivals continued to boom. Altogether 220 festivals of varying sizes took place. Many sold out months ahead while Splendour in The Grass (which drew 14,000) and East Coast Blues & Roots Festival (80,000) – both in picturesque Byron Bay – moved to larger premises.

Bluesfest opened a festival in New Zealand while dance culture event Good Vibrations extended its run to Singapore. Australian versions of V Fest and the New York International Guitar Festival took place, with one promoter reportedly signing up a version of the American Coachella festival for a downunder play.

The circuit’s heat went down to merchandising (Michael Gudinski’s ATM Merchandising had its best year ever) while logistics companies Arena Travel and Stage & Screen pushed into the Asian and American markets.

Los Angeles-based sports and entertainment presenter AEG acquired a 50 percent interest in Australian venue operator Ogden IFC for a reported $100 million. They set up 50/50 joint venture AEG Ogden to operate arenas, theatres, stadiums, convention and exhibition centres across the Asian region, the western Pacific including Australia and New Zealand, the Middle East and North Africa.

The new year hits the ground running with sold-out shows for The Police, Rage Against The Machine, Iron Maiden, Matchbox Twenty, Bon Jovi, Brooks & Dunn, Santana and return visits tipped for Bruce Springsteen, Fleetwood Mac and Kylie Minogue.

There were other standouts in 2007.

Manager and publisher John Woodruff (Savage Garden, Baby Animals, Diesel, Angels) was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame, while Michael Chugg was voted international promoter of the year by America’s Country Music Association.

The New South Wales government shook the dust off its liquor licensing laws and set the wheels in motion for Sydney to be a great live city.

A joint tour by Powderfinger and Silverchair set new benchmarks for Australian touring, selling 220,000 tickets for 31 shows.

A survey by Web-based ticketing company Moshtix found 41 percent of Australians surveyed thought local music better than it was 10 years ago, and 48 percent listened to more local music than five years ago. Powderfinger was rated most popular Australian band and AC/DC’s Back in Black the greatest Aussie album of all time.

And in August, the hotel and nightclub industries launched a Federal Court appeal to the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia’s win to raise its licensing fee from 7 cents per person to $1.05, and at dance parties to $3.07.