SAN FRANCISCO (CelebrityAccess) — Live Nation president and chief financial officer Joe Berchtold sat down for a wide-ranging interview at Morgan Stanley’s Technology, Media & Telecom Conference on Wednesday.
According to Berchtold, the company is off to a “raging start” in 2023.
“Ticket sales are up over 20% for concerts this year. In January and February, we sold almost twice as many tickets as we sold in January and February last year,” he said.
“Ticketmaster GTV is up 33% which shows that on a global basis, not just concerts but all live events, continues to be strong,” he added.
As well, Berchtold stated that the high demand for concerts includes not just nosebleed seats but the premium tickets as well.
“At this point, we’ve sold twice as many platinum tickets as we’d sold at this point last year, so the high end is continuing to move very strongly, and artists are continuing to look to adopt platinum tickets to capture more of the value.
“At the same time, artists are continuing to price the back of the house reasonably to make sure everybody can afford to get a ticket. Not the front row ticket but many artists, most artists, want fans to get in to see the show.”
Additionally, according to Berchtold, the demand is nearly across the board and not just for high profile tours such as Taylor Swift.
“The demand is very broad and very deep. Last week, Ticketmaster sold over six million tickets in a week, which we’ve done many times before but what was interesting here is that no single artist accounted for more than 150,000 tickets. It wasn’t a big onsale week and that just demonstrates the breadth of the demand so it’s not just the Beyonces that are selling these tickets,” he stated.
Berchtold also shared some details on the company’s growth strategy, both in the U.S., where he cited Live Nation’s partnership with Oak View Group and the University of Texas at the Moody Center in Austin, as an example of the successful tapping of a market with unrealized demand.
Internationally, Berchtold noted that the Internet has helped to foster global fandom for artists that transcends regional markets.
“Everything’s global. There are no barriers to bringing Coldplay to Latin America. We can go to any market and thanks to digital distribution and social media platforms, every artist is now globally recognized,” he said.
“We now have a fanbase that’s truly everywhere. Our job is to now figure out what are the markets that have a lot of fans that need more Beyonces, do they have the infrastructure to deliver that and then we bring that supply to that latent demand.
After the interview turned, inevitably, to the renewed regulatory scrutiny that Live Nation and Ticketmaster face in the wake of recent controversies over ticket sales, Berchtold provided the most comprehensive statements from the company since the Taylor Swift fiasco in November.
In his remarks, Berchtold discounted the potential threat of a review of Live Nation’s consent decree with Department of Justice, noting that in his view, the company’s past two settlements with the DOJ are unlikely to be revisited.
He told the interviewer that no previous settlement had been overturned and if they were forced to renegotiate their own consent decree, it would make it harder for the Justice Department to secure such agreements in the future.
“We have a binding agreement with the DOJ as it relates to any perceived deeds in the past, much as you have individual settlements. So there has never been a situation where the DOJ has come and attempted to retrade a settlement,” Berchtold told the audience.
“So A.) there are legal questions about whether or not they could retrade a settlement and B.) it would have a chilling impact on their ability to ever do settlements again.”
He also highlighted the company’s push to reform the secondary market through the FAIR Ticketing Act but stopped short of calling it regulation.
Unsurprisingly, Berchtold voiced his continued support for the company’s dynamic ticket pricing strategy, noting that it has been adopted by a growing number of artists.
According to Berchtold, dynamic pricing is a key tool for price discovery and important for helping artists to capture revenue instead of scalpers.
“Every time an artist comes out and publicly says I’m a great artist and I should capture the value of my performance not the scalper, then that’s helpful for other artists to be comfortable in doing so,” he said.
“It’s more transparency and a greater understanding of more artists who say ‘I know you priced that front row at $200 dollars because you want your 16-year-old screaming fan to get the tickets, but they don’t have a prayer. It’s going to be $2,000 dollars and the only question is do you get $200, and the scalper gets $1800 or are you getting closer to the $2000,” he added.
He went on to note that much of what has been said on social media about dynamic pricing is not accurate and stated that Ticketmaster doesn’t change prices during the initial onsale.
“Variable pricing just says that over the course of the onsale, we’re going to continue to look at the supply and demand and were going to adjust some prices. It doesn’t happen during the initial onsale. We use our analytics to help educate before the onsale to help the artist decide what the right price that they want to charge for their tickets,” he said.
“You then go through the onsale process and at some point, in the days after, you step back and look at it and say, ‘How’d they sell? Do we need to adjust the price of any tickets that remain?’ [It’s] no different than hotels, airlines…anybody else that has capacity and demand and you’re trying to match the two,” Berchtold added.