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Live Nation’s share price recovers despite major loss of revenue

Live Nation’s share price has managed to surpass its pre-pandemic high, despite seeing its revenue fall 92 per cent year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2020.

The live entertainment giant released its earnings report yesterday (Thursday), with revenue plummeting 84 per cent for the whole year compared to 2019.

Live Nation’s revenue for the fourth quarter was down to $178.4m from nearly $2.3bn in the previous year, while overall revenue for 2020 was about $8bn less than in 2019, totalling $1.4bn compared with $9.4bn the year prior.

The company, which owns ticketing giant Ticketmaster, lost about $368m between its concert and ticketing divisions in the fourth quarter and lost $1bn for the year as a whole.

Ticketing revenue fell 98 per cent while concert revenue fell 92 per cent.

Despite facing one of the toughest years in live entertainment’s history for revenue and ticket sales, Live Nation expressed optimism for the projected return of live events in 2021.

The firm’s share price is now higher than it was before COVID-19 struck in March 2020, hitting $87.22 at the time of publication, compared with $67.76 a year ago. In addition, it reports that 83 per cent of fans continue to hold on to their tickets for postponed shows, and notes a $950m cost reduction in 2020 and $1.65bn in cash savings.

Michael Rapino, president and chief executive of Live Nation, said: “We continue to have a substantial tailwind in the live event industry, as consumers more than ever are looking to spend on experiences.

“The supply-demand fundamentals of the concerts business remain strong, with artists ready to get back on the road and fans eager to reconnect at events. All our data continues to show that there is substantial pent-up demand for concerts on the consumer demand side.”

Rapino also cited a survey that indicated 95 per cent of fans are likely to attend a concert when restrictions are lifted and predicted that the pipeline for 2022 is much stronger than usual.

He said there are almost “twice as many major touring artists on cycle in 2022 than a typical year – about 45 artists versus the usual 25. And there remains plenty of scheduling availability at arenas, amphitheatres and stadiums to accommodate these additional tours, with over two-thirds of these venues’ nights unused by sporting events or major concerts in a typical year.”

With the concert industry being shuttered for almost an entire year, Live Nation, like many others in the industry, has been developing its digital options like livestreaming. Last month, it acquired a majority stake in ticketed livestream platform Veeps, founded by Good Charlotte’s Joel and Benji Madden.

The live entertainment giant said it would further focus on expanding its streaming options for more revenue streams, which it built to supplement the vast loss of income during the months without ticket sales during the pandemic.

Rapino said: “As we look back on 2020, it is clearly not the year anyone predicted, but I am very proud of how Live Nation has dug in and focused on turning this challenge into an opportunity to improve our business.

“Given the massive social and economic toll that the lockdown has had on the public, we believe there will be strong momentum to reopen society swiftly as soon as vaccines are readily available. And we believe outdoor activities will be the first to happen.

“So while the timing of our return to live will continue to vary across global markets, every sign points to it beginning safely in many countries sometime this summer and scaling further from there.”