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A positive Q3 financial report from Live Nation Entertainment (LNE) saw its stock close at an all-time high yesterday (4 November) despite its revenue, and the number of events and ticket buyers remaining down on pre-pandemic levels, and the company’s long-term debt rising 46.4% in the previous nine months to $5.5m (£4.09m).

LNE reported overall revenue of $2.6bn (£1.9bn) for the quarter ended 30 September, up dramatically from $184m (£136m) in the same period the previous year. Despite recording positive results across all divisions in Q3 2021, revenue was down 28.5% on Q3 2019, and estimated events and fans were down 35.9% and 46.1% respectively.

Revenue for concerts in the most recent quarter was $2.15bn (£1.59bn), up from $154.8m (£115.16) in the same quarter last year, and adjusted operating income (AOI) was $59.6m (£44.33m) compared to Q3 2020’s $173.4m (£129m) loss.

LNE said Ticketmaster delivered its highest operating income and AOI quarter ever at $114m (£85m) and $172m (£128m) respectively, the latter being 35% higher than pre-pandemic levels.

The company’s festival portfolio performed particularly strongly, according to CEO Michael Rapino, who said many events had sold out in record time and overall ticket sales for major festivals was up 10% on pre-pandemic 2019 levels.

He also said that strong demand for shows had enabled “improved pricing”, with average amphitheatre and major festival pricing up double-digits versus 2019.  Fan spending at shows reached record levels, with on-site spending per fan up more than 20% in amphitheatres and festivals compared to 2019.

“We delivered these results within an operating environment that required us to ramp up quickly, institute new health and safety protocols, and staff our front line in a tight labour market,” said Rapino.

Looking ahead, LNE’s CEO suggested all the signs point to a record 2022: “Through October, our confirmed show count across amphitheaters, arenas and stadiums is up double-digits relative to the same time in 2019 for 2020 shows, and through mid-October, we have already sold 22 million tickets for our shows in 2022.  Demand has been stronger than ever for many of these on-sales with one million tickets sold for each Coldplay and Red Hot Chili Peppers tours, and several other tours already selling over 500 thousand tickets.

“Ticketmaster’s on-sales for 2022 reinforce this demand, as we expect the 2021 fourth quarter transacted fee-bearing GTV to be at a record level, even after already selling 65m fee-bearing tickets for events next year.  Ticketmaster has also added clients representing 14m net new fee-bearing tickets so far this year, further accelerating its growth on a global basis.

“Our sponsorship and advertising business has had similar success with its clients, with our confirmed pipeline for 2022 up double-digits relative to this time in 2019 for 2020.

“At the same time, we are continuing our cost focus to deliver $200m in structural savings from our pre-pandemic 2020 plan, making us more nimble and better positioned to invest for future growth.

“As we get close to turning the page on 2021, I remain more convinced than ever on the power and potential of live entertainment, and the strength of our position.  No industry was more impacted by the pandemic over the last two years, and no industry has so proven its durability of demand in the face of such disruption.

“I fully expect we will continue to have bumps in the road in the coming months, and it will take some time for international artists to be touring on a truly global basis, but the fundamental strength of live entertainment and Live Nation has proven out, and I expect we will only continue to grow from here.”