After going most of the year with virtually no revenue, promoter Live Nation ended 2020 with $1.86 billion in revenue, down 84% from 2019. In the fourth quarter, its third full quarter since the pandemic stopped concerts and festivals worldwide, Live Nation’s total revenue was $237.3 million, 92% lower than the prior-year period.
Fourth-quarter concert and ticketing revenue were down 92% and 98% respectively. Sponsorships and advertising revenues, valuable because of their high margins, were down 68%.
The concert business had similar declines across the market. Madison Square Garden’s fourth-quarter revenue deficit was 94% following annual declines of 96% and 92% in the first and second quarters. Big Hit Entertainment, the South Korean company behind K-pop group BTS, posted 98% lower concert revenue in 2020.
With the help of financial maneuvers since March 2020, Live Nation has a financial cushion of $643 million of free cash, helped by $417 million of debt raised in early January, and $962 million of available debt capacity, which the company believes is enough to fund operations until concerts return this summer.
There’s good news on the horizon, though, with heightened anticipation that the recent availability of vaccines will speed a concert business recovery. Since May 2020, Live Nation has pointed to indications that fans are ready to attend concerts again: 95% of fans are likely to attend a show when possible, and 83% of fans have chosen to hold tickets to rescheduled shows rather than seek refunds. They’ll have their choice of concerts as Live Nation expects 45 major touring artists to be the road in 2022 compared to 25 in a typical year.