All About The Experience: Show Counts & Ticket Sales Are Up, With Increased Demand For VIP

GEORGE, WASHINGTON – JULY 31: Singer Lauren Alaina performs onstage during the Watershed Country Music Festival at the Gorge Amphitheatre on July 31, 2022 in George, Washington. (Photo by Mat Hayward/Getty Images)

In the past year since COVID-19 restrictions were lifted across the U.S., consumers, perhaps more than ever, are embracing the experiential, putting their discretionary income toward concerts, travel and events like weddings rather than more material goods like air fryers, TVs and outdoor furniture. 

A graphic that accompanied Live Nation Entertainment’s Aug. 4 second quarter financial results declared that “Experience Economy Drives Record Demand For Concerts,” with highlights including show counts and attendance up more than 20% compared to 2019, while tickets sold are up 38%.

And not only is the second quarter of 2022 looking brighter compared to Q2 for the last pre-pandemic year, the world’s leading promoter is reporting its highest quarterly attendance ever with over 33 million fans across 12,500 events. 

After being denied the chance to gather together for so long, what better way to spend one’s money and time than the incredible multi-sensory art form known as live music?

“Even as show count and attendance grew, fans demonstrated their willingness to pay more for the best seats, with the average price of a ticket for our concerts this year up 10% globally relative to 2019, which remains less than the U.S. inflation level over the period,” Live Nation CEO and President Michael Rapino said during the LN Q2 earnings call. “At the same time, our average entry price for concerts remained affordable at $33, up only 5% from 2019.”

Rapino also spoke about the industry-wide practice of dynamic pricing, following the recent hubbub over some high-end ticket prices on Bruce Springsteen’s first tour with the E Street Band since 2016. Though Ticketmaster pointed out that, for all of the outrage, 88.2% of tickets were sold at set prices, ranging from $59.50 to $399 before service fees, and only 1.3% of tickets have sold for more than $1,000.

“With market-based pricing being widely adopted by most tours, we expect to shift over $500 million from the secondary market to artists this year, continuing to support those who created the concert and ensuring they are benefiting from it,” Rapino said.

The Q2 report noted, “Consumer demand for premium seats and VIP experiences has continued, with our Ticketmaster dynamic price sales and GTV (gross transaction value) growing by 2.5 times the volume in 2019.”

VIP experiences are offered for dozens of tours via VIP Nation, from Puerto Rican artist Bad Bunny (who topped Pollstar’s Mid-Year tours charts with $120.1 million grossed during his “El Último Tour Del Mundo”) to country singer Lauren Alaina.

Alaina, who is a brand ambassador for clothing retail chain maurices, is hosting VIP Experiences in four markets on the Brett Eldredge tour featuring an exclusive one-song performance and Q&A session with the singer at a local maurices location the afternoon before the show. 

“We’ve worked with VIP Nation to create VIP experiences on Lauren’s headline tour and found that our fans have come to anticipate the option,” manager Trisha McClanahan of McClanahan Management told Pollstar. “On the [Brett Eldredge] tour, I was looking for a way to service both our sponsor and the fans, without disrupting the headliner’s run of day. Holding the event in the actual maurices store served both purposes. We limited the experience to markets that were easily accessible to the venue.”

She added, “Determining the perks offered is a brainstorm between our team and the VIP Nation team; VIP Nation has developed an expertise in this area after running a broad array of programs tailored to individual artists. We are excited to give the fans this intimate moment with the artist, and we are grateful to VIP Nation for their execution.” 

Of course, VIP treatment isn’t just limited to Live Nation events. From Southern California’s Coachella to the Chicago-area North Coast Music Festival (see Fest 411 here), there’s nothing like experiencing the luxe life.  

North Coast, held Sept. 2-4 at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview, Ill., offers 3-day GA passes for $213.50 and VIP passes for $391.50.

“We relocated North Coast to SeatGeek Stadium campus in 2021 and love utilizing the expansive venue’s different environments. We offer five stages including the stadium, and our A/C Chill Dome for cooling down and soaking in experiential entertainment,”  Pat Grumley, founding partner and marketing director of North Coast Music Festival, tells Pollstar.  

“Our VIP guests enjoy preferred viewing areas at each stage, as well as express entry, private VIP bars, lounge seating, and private air-conditioned bathrooms. With such a diverse site, we strive to create a variety of unique VIP areas with elevated amenities, and it’s great to see familiar faces returning to our  VIP sections year after year.”