Global Stars, Local Business & New Frontiers: It’s All In The Mix In Europe & UK (6th Annual Magna Charta Special)

Coldplay Maneskin
One stadium, two generations of headliners: Måneskin and Coldplay both performed multiple dates at San Siro stadium in Milan, Italy, in the summer of 2023 – collectively selling out more than 370,000 tickets, and grossing almost $40,000,000. (Both pictures by Sergione Infuso/Corbis via Getty Images)

Business is still booming in the UK and Europe. That’s the clear message from the individuals running the companies on this year’s Magna Charta rankings, which are based on box-office reports from across the Atlantic submitted to Pollstar between Feb. 1, 2023, and Jan. 31, 2024. Steve Sayer, senior vice president and general manager of the world’s busiest arena, London’s O2, said, “2024 is shaping up nicely, building on a really strong 2023. We’re also hearing good things about 2025 at arena level. Lots of new music coming out and a number of big artists, and some new ones getting ready to tour again.”

Live Nation’s president EMEA, John Reid, said, “what we’re seeing is that fans are continuing to buy tickets – for their favourite local artist in their local venues, or festivals of all sizes, right through to Springsteen stadium shows. And there’s a great pipeline of artists coming through right now – we’ve got Melanie Martinez, Tyler Childers and Lainey Wilson all touring Europe this year.”

That’s in addition to the slew of blockbuster acts that’ll continue to fill stadiums in 2024. The packed schedules in UK and Europe are testament to the hard work all involved in this industry have been putting in ever since shows returned in 2022, despite the challenging economy in those markets.

Brian Cohen, partner and agent, international music, at WME summed it up perfectly: “Crossing the Atlantic is still attractive to artists looking to build their global brands. With that being said, between the rising costs of transportation, the impact of Brexit on the economic outlook, and fluctuations in demand from varying countries, it has of course become harder to do so. For European acts coming over to the U.S., I would say that there is more interest than ever before, however the rising visa costs have become a deterrence to some.”

Visa, taxes, carnets. It costs a lot of money and time just filling out the forms to tour the European continent, which eats into promoters’ margins. One source told Pollstar during Pollstar Live! 2024 that Beyoncé’s “Renaissance World Tour” generated more revenues on premium ticket sales in the U.S. than on the combined ticket sales in all of Europe. So, on paper it can look quite appealing to just focus on the U.S., where interstate travel is a much more streamlined process than crossing frontiers in Europe.

According to Frithjof Pils, managing director of Eventim Live, “a strong act in the U.S. can fairly easily play 30 to 40 markets or venues. In Europe, perhaps 15 to 20 shows are feasible across several countries – and then you have to deal with all the complexities of different currencies, languages, etc.”

The reason artists still make the effort to route a European run, as well as visit other more exotic places that may be costly to get to, is that it pays off, most importantly the connection with new fans. And even if they didn’t make the effort, there’s a huge pool of local talent that is able to fill arenas and stadiums all over the UK and Europe. Pils said, “With international touring often in the spotlight, it’s easy to forget that in many countries 80%–90% of the live business is actually local repertoire, so that’s definitely one area we will continue to focus on.”

Andreas Gabalier Performs In Berlin
Austrian singer Andreas Gabalier performs live on stage at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin, Germany, where his “DIRNDL-WAHNSINN-HULAPALU” tour visited on April 28, 2023. (Photo by Frank Hoensch/Redferns)

Semmel Concerts, one of the 39 promoters Eventim Live comprised at press time, is a case in point. 2023’s highlights include the “DIRNDL-WAHNSINN-HULAPALU” tour by Austrian Schlager-rock phenomenon Andreas Gabalier, “Let`s Dance – The Live Tour 2023,” based on a hugely popular German TV show, strong open-air summer shows by German stars Roland Kaiser, Sarah Connor and Santiano.

Andreas Kroll, CEO of in.Stuttgart, which runs the city’s Hanns-Martin-Schleyer-Halle and Porsche Arena, confirmed the strength of national repertoire: “What we see is that, especially in the young segment, German artists like Apache 207, Ayliva, and Kontra K are selling out in record times. The older audience tends to be more cautious and buy tickets close to the event day.”

Another 2023 highlight: five sold-out concerts at Schleyer-Halle by German superstar Helene Fischer in May, selling out all 55,000 available tickets.

In Spain, Clipper’s Music Group president Juli Guiu Marquina observes “a notable increase in the demand for music events tickets led by national artists, who are selling stadiums in our country and arenas around the world.” Clipper’s sold-out 12,000 tickets for a concert by Italian singer Laura Pausini at the Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona in January. Spanish alt-rock band Arde Bogotá sold-out the 9,000 available tickets for two shows at the Sant Jordi Club this coming December more than a year in advance.

Also in Spain, Riff Producciones promoted Manuel Carrasco, who kicked off his 2023 tour with two performances at La Cartuja stadium in Seville last June, selling out 65,000 ticket a night, as well as Melendi’s 20th anniversary tour at the end of 2023, which sold 8,000 to 10,000 tickets per show.

Vamos España: How Spain’s Local Identity Brings In Global Business

24th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards Show
Laura Pausini, seen here performing at the 23rd Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards in Seville, Spain, is currently on her world tour. In Spain, she sold out 12,000 tickets at the Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona, as well as more than 12,000 tickets at Madrid’s WiZink Center in January. (Photo by Samuel de Roman/WireImage)

Another example is Italy, according to Pils, who said, “it was the first European market to really flourish after the pandemic, and it just keeps growing. There’s a vibrant scene, especially of local repertoire. We love being part of it – and CTS Eventim is currently building a new venue that will further strengthen the live entertainment landscape in the country.”

Semmel Concerts also had great success with its in-house productions “Abbamania the Show,” and “Disney in Concert” which “achieved Europe-wide success and set new standards,” according to CEO Dieter Semmelmann.

It goes to show the growing importance of family entertainment and other formats. Pils said, “one of our biggest non-music ‘stars’ right now is the Harry Potter exhibition.” To address this growing market, ILMC in London programmed a full conference day dedicated to big-brand live entertainment, exhibitions, and touring family shows this year (see page 22).

All of this is not to say that international stars won’t tour the UK and Europe, on the contrary. As Reid pointed out, “Taylor Swift, Doja Cat, Foo Fighters, Green Day, Bruce Springsteen, Nicki Minaj, and more are coming over the pond” in 2024. The Taylor Swift onsale in particular has surpassed anything ever seen before on the continent.

Pollstar caught up with Ben Mitha, CEO of Germany’s largest independent promoter, Karsten Jahnke Konzertdirektion, promoter and co-promoter of Taylor Swift’s German dates. He confirmed a buoyant market, and the buoyant spirit it creates in the office when getting to work a spectacle like “Eras.”

But he also expressed some concern for the bread-and-butter business. While fans are happy to dig deep into their pockets for a three-hour stadium experience of a lifetime, newcomers rely on a competitive ticket price to build an audience. Maintaining that is becoming increasingly difficult, given the increased costs in all aspects of touring, Mitha said. Fulfilling one’s role as talent developer was only possible, if you could generate enough business at the top-end to support the next generation of talent coming through.

Apache 207 concert in Berlin
German rapper and singer Apache 207 sold out Waldbühne Berlin in Germany three times last September, selling more than 21,000 tickets, and grossing more than $1.7 million on each night. Photo: Hannes P. Albert/dpa (Photo by Hannes P Albert/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Georg Leitner runs GLP in Vienna, Austria, which operates across the world, booking shows across many genres, from Foreigner, Jose Carreras, Kool & The Gang, to Peter Pan On Ice, Gipsy Kings, and Dire Straits Legacy, and much more. Leitner urged everyone in this business not to forget about the future in the present golden age.

“I hope that I can get across the idea that we should put a focus not just on the top sellers, but also on the midsize artists that keep our industry alive and vibrant, and who build the ground for top-sellers in years and decades to come,” he said. “I feel that currently there is a tendency to talk mainly about the few stadium artists, even though the daily bread of most participants are the midsize acts from club to arena level. On that level, the potential of opening and fostering new territories provides tremendous opportunities.”

The leading companies are fully aware of that. Reid said, “there are many new markets to explore which opens up both new local talent for new audiences to discover, and new tour routing possibilities for artists. Each market is different which means that the opportunities and options for artists and fans are more and more diverse.”

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