‘Our Network Helps Promoters Leverage Synergies & Find Solutions’: Q’s With Eventim Live MD Frithjof Pils (6th Annual Magna Charta Special)

Dr. Frithjof Pils ©ThomasRabsch
Dr. Frithjof Pils, managing director of Eventim Live. (Picture by Thomas Rabsch)

Pollstar spoke with Dr. Frithjof Pils, managing director of Eventim Live, which currently comprises 39 promoters worldwide, including the most recent partnerships formed in the U.S. Its European network of businesses contributed to Eventim Live’s pole position on this year’s Magna Charta in terms of ticket sales. Pils talked about the state of play in Europe, business highlights, and plans to facilitate cross-border touring thanks to CTS Eventim’s global reach.

Pollstar: How does 2024 compare to 2023? What business highlights would you like to point out for this year?
Frithjof Pils: The live business has been thriving since the pandemic, and we don’t expect that to change in 2024. 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.

In international touring, the sheer size and demand of the U.S. market means that the U.S. leg continues to play a dominant role in making the math of such tours work. Our second focus is therefore on strengthening our U.S. foothold and also drawing on that for global touring. A third focus is the live entertainment market outside of music: one of our biggest non-music “stars” right now is the Harry Potter exhibition, for instance.

Taylor Swift is probably one of the biggest on-sales in European history. What are the forces that come together in the case of Taylor Swift to make for this perfect live entertainment storm?
Taylor Swift is much more than an artist: she’s a cultural and artistic phenomenon. Fans understandably can’t get enough. She’s in a league of her own.

Will the arena business compensate for fewer stadium concerts in 2024?
We’re used to these cycles and they’re part of the game. We always try to balance our portfolios with shows that cover different formats, genres, and territories. So we’re pretty well hedged across the board. Overall, the live business will be good in 2024, and we also envision that for 2025.

CTS EVENTIM Arena Santa Giulia Milano Rendering
A rendering of Arena Santa Giulia Milano, developed by CTS Eventim, and scheduled to open in late 2025. (Rendering

Which European territories stand out to you as particularly flourishing right now?
To name just one example, I’ve been very impressed by Italy recently. 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. When the 16,000-seat Arena For Milan opens in late 2025, it will be Italy’s largest, most innovative, and most sustainable indoor arena. Promoters are telling us they’re looking forward to bringing a multitude of outstanding artists to the new venue, which will also feature a spacious plaza for outdoor events.

See: Eventim’s Milan Arena Launches Next Construction Phase

You’ve also launched in the U.S. now. What tours/shows have you been involved in there?
The U.S. is obviously a market with outstanding potential, and we’re delighted to be off to a good start here. We’ve already been involved in a multitude of tours, including several arena tours. The Rod Wave tour at end of 2023 with our partners Mammoth and AG Entertainment was a resounding success. We recently also launched a partnership with U.S. promoter Walter McDonald that will considerably add to our business in the U.S. and beyond.

From far away, it always seemed like the U.S. market is a totally different animal than UK/Europe. Can you point out one big difference, and one things that’s exactly the same across the pond?
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. On both sides of the pond, we have the privilege of working with many consummate professionals throughout the value chain, from suppliers, to promoters, to the venues themselves.

Rod Wave Nostalgia Tour Jacksonville, FL
A view of the audience during the Rod Wave “Nostalgia Tour” at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida, Dec. 18, 2023 – one of the early success stories of Eventim Live’s foray into the U.S.. (Photo by Prince Williams/WireImage)

In 2019, it seemed like national borders hardly mattered anymore, but after lockdowns, Brexit, and an ongoing economic crisis, artists – anybody that’s not Taylor Swift or Bruce Springsteen – may need to think twice about where they go on tour. As an industry professional that knows his way around both sides of the Atlantic, how do you assess the situation for the non-blockbuster tours, the bread-and-butter business?
Post-lockdown, we’ve seen a strong return to business as usual. It is true that small and medium-sized artists had it harder than bigger acts after the pandemic. But the non-blockbuster artists are also incredibly talented, so they’re finding their feet again. Brexit obviously created a lot of new obstacles, but our promoter network has been solving those challenges for artists at all levels of touring ever since the landscape changed. As for the economic crisis, inflation is certainly hitting promoters hard and touring costs are going up. This is especially true for international artists coming to Europe. Our network helps promoters leverage synergies and find optimal solutions to those economic challenges — so artists can still reach their fans and deliver fantastic live experiences.

Taking a European-wide perspective, what’s your business strategy in 2024?
Our 2024 strategy isn’t limited to Europe: We’re going to be investing in cross-border touring, so we’ll be setting up structures to further facilitate that. We’ll also be focusing on equipping the promoters in our network with the additional tools they need to be internationally competitive. Another part of our strategy will involve investing across a wide range of live-entertainment genres and most importantly adding new partners to our portfolio in the U.S., in Europe, and further afield.

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