Live Nation Entertainment (LNE) has reported its strongest ever Q1 financial performance on the back of a powerful quarter by Ticketmaster, with 70 million tickets sold for 2022 concerts.

LNE’s adjusted operating income (AOI) of $209m (£169m) during the quarter surpassed its previous record, Q1 2019, by $94m (£76m) and was $361m (£293m) up on the same period last year.

LNE CEO Michael Rapino (pictured) said, “Momentum has picked up for all of our businesses over the course of the first quarter, and as a result, we delivered financial performance that greatly surpassed our previous expectations, with operating income of $27m (£22m) and AOI of $209m.

“Artists are back on the road and fan demand has never been stronger, a reflection that live events remain a clear priority for consumers as our social lives restart.”

The strong financial performance was achieved despite attendance at shows being down 27% from 15m in Q1 2019 to 11m during the same period this year.

Rapino said the decline was expected due to the delayed opening of some international markets, and that indicators point to double-digit growth in fan attendance at LNE’s events this year relative to 2019.

The international live event industry giant said its revenue during the quarter was $1.8 billion (£1.46bn), up from $239.4m (£194m) in the same period last year.

LNE’s ticketing operation generated revenue of $480.4m (£389.4m) during the quarter while its sponsorship segment earned $115.7m (£93.8m). Its concert promoting segment was responsible for $1.2bn (£972m) in revenue, up from $239.4m (£194m) during the equivalent period in 2021.

LNE CEO Michael Rapino said Ticketmaster’s strong first quarter performance drove the company’s overall profitability, and despite some international markets taking longer to re-open, the quarter was LNE’s second highest ever for transacted gross transactional volume (GTV). With March being its highest month ever for transacted GTV, excluding refunds.

With sponsorships revenue bouncing back strongly in Q1 2022, Rapino suggested the corporate world anticipates a strong rebound in the live sector.

“Sponsorship activity fully returned in Q1, delivering financial results that well exceeded Q1 2019,” he said. “We are seeing growth along a number of dimensions – expansion of existing relationships, new categories expanding our breadth of partners and new ad units being created both on-site and online.

“The number of strategic sponsors that generated over $1 million of revenue per year has risen by close to 30% since 2019, with their committed spend up 70% and accounting for 80% of our total sponsorship revenue. About 60% of this growth has come from three categories of particular priority over the past two years – technology, telecom and purchase path integration – which have collectively more than doubled their sponsorship since 2019,” he continued.