Wildlife Entertainment Limited
Arctic Monkeys are a stadium band now, and 2023 marked the year they transitioned into the top tier — in terms of ticket sales, that is. In terms of musical craftsmanship, they’ve occupied that space for quite a while. The band is now back from a North American run that culminated in two nights at Mexico City’s Foro Sol stadium Oct. 6-7, selling 60,000-plus tickets per night. “These are the biggest shows the band have performed during their career. The demand for tickets has been extraordinary,” manager Ian McAndrew said. “It’s been incredible to witness the ascent of Arctic Monkeys from a club band to commanding the stage at these large stadiums.”
It has always been McAndrew’s strategy not to overplay markets whenever the band goes on tour. As such, there are still markets that are desperately waiting for Arctic Monkeys to finally visit. 2023 was a chance to check off a few destinations that had been high on the band’s list. McAndrew says, “This past year has allowed us the opportunity to tour places we have never visited before. The tour of Asia was a particular highlight. Since 2005 fans in Indonesia have been begging the band to visit, so it was hugely gratifying to finally get there. The whole tour of Asia felt like a celebration.”
At the time of writing, Arctic Monkeys landed back in the UK and Ireland, closing things out with three shows at 3Arena in Dublin, Ireland, and one at The SSE Arena Belfast, Northern Ireland, Oct. 15-19. McAndrew feels “incredibly proud of the band and immensely grateful to the crew and team, who show such tenacity and commitment to deliver a great show night after night. Working at this level routinely presents challenges, and I am blessed to work with such a professional and talented group of people.”
He largely has himself to thank for that, although he’s far too humble to ever say such a thing. But according to his own definition of good management — “identifying and appointing good people to work together as a team” — it’s not just good fortunes and blessings showered from above that brought such a strong unit together to deliver amid one of the most challenging touring environments in history.
International highlights from Arctic Monkeys’ Pollstar Boxoffice 2023 include sold-out shows at The Domain in Sydney, Australia, Jan. 4-5, selling 25,952 tickets for a $2,382,775 gross; two sold-out shows at Accor Arena in Paris, France, May 9-10 (32,358 tickets, $2,004,870 gross); and a sold-out Bellahouston Park in Glasgow, Scotland, June 25 (36,000, $3,108,571).
Touring in a post-COVID world didn’t come without its challenges. “The cost of touring — particularly international touring — is hugely problematic. … Failures in the Brexit agreement have hugely damaged the ability for UK and EU performers to tour freely and affordably. Rising fuel prices and inflationary pressures have compounded the problem and don’t allow for ticket price increases sufficient in scale to compensate for the rise in touring costs,” McAndrew explains. He adds that a new generation of artists already began adapting to the new reality, and finding ways to cultivate “a live following sufficient in size to sustain and grow a touring business. They will be the next generation of headliners.”
It’s not the first challenging period McAndrew has had to see his acts through, but what these past three years in particular have taught him, is that “preparation is key to delivering success. From the initial planning and scheduling to the appointment of key team members to the advancing of shows, the more time you have to prepare and the more diligent you are doing so, the better the outcome.”
When McAndrew started in the business, “there was no public internet service, no mobile phone or digital communication. The emergence of these services has transformed our lives — transformed how we interact, consume and communicate. It has completely revived the recorded music industry and changed the way music fans discover and engage with artists and creators. It has also changed the way we interact with each other. However, the tech does not satisfy the desire for communal human contact and the unique experience live music offers. I feel confident the live music business will continue to thrive but fans will demand a better experience and those stakeholders who adapt best to offer that will prosper most.”
Wise words from a man, who says his biggest accomplishment has been “to survive and succeed as an independent artist manager for nearly 35 years. Management is tough. Given the challenges faced in trying to break, develop and support new talent, it is probably tougher now than ever.”Impact International UK/Euro: