Australias Live Music Business Reports Slight Gains in 2016

Lars Brandle | October 12, 2017

Australia’s live scene lost some steam in recent years, but new data suggests business is solid and starting to warm up. 

Live entertainment generated more than A$1.43 billion ($1.11 billion) in 2016, marginally ahead of the previous year, while 18.78 million tickets were sold to live events, up 1.2 per cent, according to new data published by Live Performance Australia.

Rock, pop and hip-hop concerts fall under the “Contemporary Music” category, which endured another rough year. “Contemporary Music” remains by far the biggest category, accounting for more than 30 per cent of all revenue, though the sector experienced a 7.9% dip to A$440 million ($342 million) in 2016. Attendance increased slightly by 1.9% to 5.7 million. At its peak in 2010, the sector commanded a 49.6% market share of revenue and 40.8% market share of attendance.

Despite the slow-down, there was no shortage of big-names hitting the Australian touring circuit in 2016. Major international artists Coldplay, Prince, Selena Gomez, Black Sabbath, Kendrick Lamar and Madonna made the trip, while local acts Flume, Crowded House, Keith Urban, Delta Goodrem, Troye Sivanand many others hit the road. 

The decrease in "Contemporary Music” revenue is “primarily due to a number of prominent acts with arena or stadium tours that attracted large crowds and toured to all five major cities in 2015 that did not return in 2016,” the LPA notes, such as AC/DC, Fleetwood Mac, Foo Fighters, Ed Sheeran and One Direction. Also, many of the high-profile international acts that toured Australia in 2016 only performed in up to three major capital cities (Sydney, Melbourne and/or Brisbane) including Coldplay, Prince, Selena Gomez, Kendrick Lamar and Madonna, the report suggests. 

The LPA’s 13th Ticket Attendance and Revenue Survey doesn’t include box office data from stadium tours by Justin Bieber or Adele, which will be counted toward the next study. And massive tours from Ed Sheeran, Pink and others are marked on the calendar. 

Also in 2016, the "Festivals" category slipped sharply with revenue down 25.2% and attendances falling by 48.2%, a result driven by the axing of major national touring festivals Future Music Festival and Stereosonic in 2016.  Australia’s summer festival market has in recent years lost its “big four” touring brands – BDO, Stereosonic, Soundwave and Future Music Festival – which, in a typical run, generated upwards of one million combined ticket sales. A handful of international festival brands, including Storm and Ultra, spotted an opportunity and will enter the market in the months ahead. 

LPA CEO Evelyn Richardson said the overall results illustrated the economic and cultural value of the live industry Down Under, but insisted the Turnbull government needed to show its support with a more strategic policy approach.

The last few years have seen “funding cuts, our small to medium sector massively impacted, and very little indication that government is prepared to deliver on its vision for innovation and jobs growth in our sector,” she explains.

“We strongly believe that the Government needs to step up and support greater investment in our industry which creates jobs, employs more than 34 000 people, generates significant economic activity and enriches the cultural lives of millions of Australians,” Richardson continued.

The LPA insists the soft overall result isn’t cause for alarm. The ticketing results for live entertainment outweigh combined attendances across the professional codes of soccer, Aussie rules football, rugby league, rugby union, cricket and basketball during the same period. 

Read the LPA's Ticket Attendance and Revenue Survey 2016 here.

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About the author: Lars Brandle is the Australia correspondent for Billboard.