Live Performance Australia published this invaluable annual report in December 2019. It covers calendar year 2018. Brief excerpts are republished below but the real juice is to be found in the details of the report, shown in text and illuminated with graphs and charts. We recommend that readers follow this linkto access the full report. Added comments are by Richard Letts.

This report presents the findings of ticket attendances and revenue for the live performance industry for the 2018 calendar year. This follows on from the previous annual ticketing studies published by LPA since 2004, and by LPA in partnership with Ernst & Young (EY) since the 2006 Report.

As in previous years, the 2018 Ticket Attendance and Revenue Report has captured ticket attendance and revenue data from ticketing companies, self-ticketing venues, event promoters and Australian Major Performing Arts Group (AMPAG) companies.

The 2018 Report also includes ticket attendance and revenue data from a selection of Performing Arts Connections (PAC) Australia members. Prior to 2017, this dataset was reported separately to the primary data and was referred to as “Supplementary” data. However, since 2017 the supplementary data is incorporated along with the main data and also presented under a separate section in this report to provide a greater representation of venues that self-ticket, particularly regional venues.

Industry growth

In 2018 (calendar year), the Australian live performance industry generated total ticket sales revenue of almost $2.2b, an increase of 14.8% from 2017, when ticket sales totalled $1.88b. This increase in revenue was a result of a 5.0% increase in the total number of paid tickets in 2018, coupled with an increase in the average ticket price by 9.3% from $90.59 to $99.03.

►Approximately 26.3m tickets were issued in 2018, representing an increase of 14.1% from 2017, when 23.0m tickets were issued. Of the 26.3m total tickets, the number of paid tickets issued was 21.8m (an increase from 20.8m tickets sold in 2017). The remaining 4.4m tickets issued in 2018 were complimentary, sponsor allocated and zero priced tickets.

►In 2018, the number of tickets issued, revenue generated and the average ticket price ($99.03) for live performance events was the highest recorded since LPA began publishing data in 2004. This was primarily driven by major international tours in the Contemporary Music category during the period, including Pink, Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars; musicals such as The Book of Mormon, Aladdinand Beautiful: The Carole King Musical; and by festivals such as Splendour in the Grass and Adelaide Fringe.

Drivers of growth

New South Wales (NSW) generated the highest share of national live performance revenue (34.9%) and attendance (31.3%) in 2018, with Victoria being the second largest contributor in revenue (32.3%) and in attendance (30.5%). Combined, NSW and Victoria generated approximately 67.2% of Australia’s live performance revenue and 61.8% of attendance in 2018.

►NSW experienced the highest growth in revenue (22.4%), closely followed by Queensland (20.2%). The highest growth in attendance was witnessed in Tasmania (67.1%), followed by Queensland (20.1%) and NSW (19.4%).

►Contemporary Music remains the largest category in the industry in 2018, representing a market share of 50.5% in revenue and 38.4% in attendance.

►Revenue growth in Special Events (337.9%), Comedy (72.5%), Contemporary Music (32.2%) and Festivals (Multi-Category) (26.2%) categories has driven growth in the live performance industry in 2018 as compared to 2017. This growth was partially offset by revenue declines in Circus and Physical Theatre (79.9%) and Musical Theatre (4.0%).

Overall category results

[The Report gives one-paragraph summaries of the situation in twelve categories. Here, we include only the music categories. There is much more detail in later sections of the report.]

Contemporary Music experienced the third highest growth in revenue and sixth highest growth in attendance amongst all categories, generating 32.2% growth in revenue (to $1.1b) and 19.2% growth in attendance (to 10.1m) between 2017 and 2018. This is the highest recorded revenue and attendance for Contemporary Music. Between 2004 and 2018, revenue in Contemporary Music has increased by 460% and attendance has increased by 268.5%. The growth in Contemporary Music in 2018 was primarily driven by tours of internationally renowned artists Pink, Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars, Taylor Swift, Celine Dion, Katy Perry, Bon Jovi, and Foo Fighters. Additionally, an increase of the average ticket price by 11.4% (to $117.77) contributed to the increase in revenue.

[Year to year volatility depends on which major artists tour Australia.]

Musical Theatre experienced a decline of 4.0% in revenue (to $400.2m) and a decrease in attendance by 3.1% (to 3.9m) in 2018. The decrease in revenue was also aided by the slight decline in the average ticket prices by 0.7% (to $108.85) in 2018. Top events in this category in 2018 were The Book of Mormon, Aladdin, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Evita, Dream Lover: The Bobby Darin Musical and Priscilla, Queen of The Desert.

Opera experienced an increase in revenue by 29.2% (to $47.0m) and an increase in attendance by 31.9% (to 0.49m) between 2017 and 2018. Additionally, the marginal increase in average ticket price by 7.5% (to $124.11) also contributed to the increase in revenue. The top contributors to the revenue were La Bohème, The Merry Widow, Aida, Carmen, La Traviata and Rigoletto.

[The report later gives more detail about results in each of these categories, including reports of revenue and attendances each year going back to 2004. Attendances then were 630,000; in 2018 they were 487,000, the highest since 2007. In the case of opera, it seems that while there was a very significant improvement in results from the previous year, 2017, there had been a large decline between 2016 and 2017. So 2018 only regained revenue lost the previous year, although it increased attendances significantly compared to 2016. In fact, the year to year results are very volatile.]

Classical Music experienced a slight increase in revenue by 2.0% (to $79.5m) despite a decrease in attendance by 4.3% (to 1.3m). The growth in revenue is primarily attributed to the increase in average ticket prices by 2.6% (to $79.13) in 2018. 2018 recorded the second highest revenue (2008 being the highest) and the fourth highest attendance (following 2006, 2008 and 2017) in the Classical Music category. The top events in the Classical Music category in 2018 were André Rieu, Staatskapelle Berlin, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Beethoven Nine and Yundi Touch of Chopin.

[Classical music’s results are modest compared with contemporary music, but in fact are almost at the same level as the total for theatre; its attendances are 60% larger than for ballet and dance.]

Contemporary Music and Musical Theatre represent the two largest categories in the industry generating 50.5% and 18.5% of revenue respectively, and 38.4% and 14.9% of attendance respectively. Combined, these two categories account for 69.0% of the live performance industry in terms of revenue and 53.3% of attendance.

The national association of organisations in the live performing arts industry. It collects and publishes data about attendances, ticket sales, and financial value of activity in the industry, reports key trends and the reasons for them and represents the interests of the industry to governments.

Dr Richard Letts AM is the founder and Director of The Music Trust, founder and former Executive Director of the Music Council of Australia (now Music Australia) and Past President of the International Music Council. He has held senior positions in music and culture in Australia and the United States, advocated for music and music education, conducted research, written policy documents, edited four periodicals, published four books and hundreds of articles.

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