‘A Team That Has Won Together’: Live Nation Leads Pollstar’s Magna Charta

The success of Live Nation
Paulo Gonçalves
– The success of Live Nation
There’s more genre’s of music on tour than ever, but rock remains a staple
Unsurprisingly, Live Nation came out on top of Pollstar‘s inaugural Magna Charta rankings, in which we’ve broken out our box office data for Europe. Talking to the company’s heads in Europe makes one thing clear: success is a team effort.
Live Nation is on a roll. It has been for years, of course, but it continued the trend in 2018, selling 8,567,169 tickets in Europe, according to Pollstar Boxoffice data.
That’s a huge number – in fact, it’s almost double the figure posted by Pollstar’s Magna Charta Top 100 Promoters chart runner-up, Germany’s Semmel Concerts Ent., which makes sense considering Live Nation’s aggressively expansive business strategy.
Some of the company’s 2018 highlights included the acquisition of Swiss concert promoter Mainland Music; the acquisition of UK event Camp Bestival; and announcement of Lollapalooza Stockholm for 2019, adding to the brand’s European presence in Germany and France.
Live Nation has continued to make major moves in the European market in 2019, already acquiring Finnish festival Blockfest, Norwegian metal and rock festival Tons of Rock, as well as Spanish promoter Planet Events
“Markets have never grown quicker, and [there’s never been] more of them,” said John Reid, Live Nation Europe’s president of concerts, during a panel at this year’s Pollstar Live! that explored the world’s live entertainment markets and their current state.
“We see growth everywhere,” said Reid, who sees “potential in every market” and particularly Europe, which has “a lot of runway.”
Reid acknowledged that a couple European countries are struggling financially at the moment, which affected their power to invest, and he also mentioned “this Brexit nonsense hanging over everybody’s head.” So far, however, those factors haven’t affected Live Nation’s ticket sales.

Phil Bowdery
Live Nation
– Phil Bowdery
executive president of Touring, international at Live Nation

Pollstar recently asked Phil Bowdery, executive president of touring, international, at Live Nation, whether he dreaded Brexit’s potential effects on the European touring business. “I would like to think our business is not political,” he replied. “Of course, there will be challenges and unfortunately, most of these are unknown at the moment, but as always, we will rise to each one as and when they surface. My biggest concerns are, of course, currency exchange rates and the free movement of our artists and crews.”

Bowdery is also the president of the UK’s Concert Promoters Association and said that “its members want to be involved with issues impacting live music and touring. Whatever happens, the touring business creates employment and supports a powerful music economy in the UK, so it wouldn’t make sense to see our business threatened.”
He agreed that “the demand for the live show is bigger than ever. Although touring still suffers its peaks and troughs, the live side is a very lucrative part of an artist’s career.
“Being on the road is good for business and it adds more strings to the bow in terms of merchandise revenue or the promotion of another product. It just works. The current state of touring is as strong as I’ve ever seen it. I see 2019 as being a very strong year, maybe even better than this year.”
Pollstar also caught up with Ticketmaster UK MD Andrew Parsons earlier this year, who confirmed that “2018 was huge for us. The summer was one of the busiest we’ve ever had. Stadium and outdoor tours kept everyone busy with JAY-Z and Beyoncé, Eminem, Ed Sheeran and Little Mix, to name but a few.  And then we finished the year off with the Spice Girls, our busiest-ever sale on record.”
Parsons said he was particularly proud of the hard work the Ticketmaster UK team undertook. “Without them and their dedication none of it would have happened,” he said, which chimed with Reid’s response when questioned about what he was most proud of in recent times: “Being part of a great Live Nation team and those record results of the last few years. [It’s] a team that has won together.”