Music Fan Spending on Concerts, Subscriptions Expected to Stay Strong – Billboard


How long will consumers keep spending $200 on concert tickets, $15 on a cocktail at the venue (and God knows what for parking) and $11 on a music subscription? Judging from recent comments by some executives, people may be dealing with inflation, but they will still pay to be entertained.

“After another quarter of record-breaking [gross order value], it is clear consumers continue to prioritize live events experiences,” said Vivid Seats CEO Stan Chia on the company’s Aug. 8 earnings call.

Investors, though, seem worried about the potential effects of millions of American student loan borrowers resuming payments this fall after years of pandemic-era forbearance. In over three years, the forbearance on student loan debt totaled about $185 billion that was spent elsewhere or saved, according to an estimate by Goldman Sachs. Asked by an analyst about the possibility that loan payments will put a crimp in concert spending, Live Nation president/CFO Joe Berchtold said the company doesn’t expect a problem. Live Nation’s analysis is that the positive impact of fans returning to live events after the pandemic “is about 10 times the impact of any potential headwind coming from the student loan payments needing to get made,” Berchtold said during the company’s July 27 earnings call.

Chia echoed Bechtold’s optimism. Vivid Seats sees “resiliency” in consumer demand and strong trends for live music, he said. To that point, Vivid Seats increased its guidance for 2023 for the second time this year and now expects marketplace gross order value (GOV) of $3.4 billion to $3.6 billion and revenues from $630 million to $650 million.

What’s more, Live Nation expects people won’t be shy about opening their wallets. Full-year concerts margin will increase in 2023 thanks to an “increase [in] the per-fan profitability” from on-site spending — things such as food and drink — and “containing to focus on the costs,” said Berchtold. Price-conscious consumers “are continuing to spend strongly,” he said, and Live Nation is seeing an increase in both the number of fans per show and per-head spending.

Eventbrite, which increased the mid-point of its 2023 revenue guidance from $323.5 million to $325 million, is finding people are still eager to do things in the real world after COVID-19 lockdowns moved much of their lives online. In an Aug. 3 earnings call, CEO Julia Hartz said the company’s improved outlook comes from “strong demand signals across the board, particularly for categories like music, film and media, food and drink, nightlife, performing and visual arts.” What’s more, Eventbrite is seeing “people really want to get out and connect with one another,” she added: “Singles and dating events are 50% up year over year. Independent singer-songwriter-hosted events were up 60%.”

German promoter CTS Eventim expects moderate growth in internet ticket volume and live entertainment revenue this year. And while CTS believes its future is clouded by unquantifiable effects of geopolitical security uncertainty, persistently high inflation and a potential economic stagnation or recession, the company said in its mid-year earnings report that “earnings figures should improve substantially compared with 2022.”

Consumer spending on music subscriptions also appears to be strong going into 2024. Spotify, which raised the price of its individual plan by $1 per month in the United States in July, expects to have 224 million subscribers by the end of September, after adding 15 million in the first half of the year. Its third quarter revenue guidance of 3.3 billion euros ($3.56 billion) would mark a nearly 9% gain from the prior-year period, although analysts surveyed by StreetAccount expected guidance of 3.4 billion euros ($3.67 billion). And its gross margin guidance of 26% would be a marked improvement from 25.2% and 24.1% in the first and second quarters, respectively.

While consumer spending continues unabated, brands’ spending on advertising — an important revenue stream for labels and publishers — is a different story. A soft advertising market has hurt everything from radio revenues to online advertising (though Live Nation’s advertising and sponsorship revenue has rebounded nicely from the pandemic and has seen no slowdown, according to Berchtold). iHeartMedia expects third-quarter revenue, excluding the impact of political advertising, to decline in the low-single digits, as July revenue was down about 5% year over year.

But radio advertising could rebound in the second half of the year, according to B Riley Securities analyst Daniel Day, and Cumulus Media’s better-than-expected second quarter earnings results were a positive sign. While iHeartMedia investors weren’t enthusiastic about the company’s second quarter earnings — its share price fell 17% the day earnings were announced and dropped another 6% through Thursday — the company remains optimistic. “While there was some softness in our larger advertisers, in Q2 our smaller advertisers remained resilient,” said iHeartMedia CEO Bob Pittman during the Aug. 8 earnings call. “And we saw a gradual improvement from our larger advertisers as well, which leads us to believe that we’ll continue to see improvements in the business through the remainder of the year.”


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