Live performance attendance in decline, as revenue falls 8% in 2012, new research says

Revenue for Australian live performance venues was down 8% in 2012, as broader economic conditions resulted in less discretionary spending.

Live Performance Australia’s annual report into ticketed attendance and revenue of live performance events found poor consumer confidence had resulted in lower attendance levels.

Overall, the revenue of the live entertainment industry fell 8% from $1.3 billion in 2011 to $1.2 billion in 2012.

This decline was mirrored by a decrease in ticket sales, as the number of people attending shows fell by 6.2%.

Despite the decline, Live Performance Australia chief executive Evelyn Richardson told SmartCompany she’s not concerned by the results.

“We think these drops are pretty modest and the industry is still generally stable.

“It’s hard to crystal ball about the future, but I think it will be very much steady as she goes. We expect as consumer confidence improves, so will spending on live performance events,” she says.

The survey found contemporary music and musical theatre remained the two largest sectors, generating 40% and 16.9% of revenue respectively.

Despite these sectors also experiencing declines, they continue to account for 56.9% of total revenue and 47.4% of live performance attendance.

The research shows Victoria and New South Wales have a larger share of revenue and attendance, compared to their share of Australia’s population. But Queensland had the largest increase in attendances.

While most live performance venues have experienced revenue hits, Australian venues are still being ranked among the best in the world.

The latest Pollstar magazine’s half-year survey of the global live concert industry, released earlier this month, placed Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne as number 25 in the world in terms of ticket sales with 243,184 tickets sold.

Sydney’s Allphones Arena came in at number 35 and the Brisbane Entertainment Centre was number 41.

The figures were determined using data from the Australian Council of the Arts, the Australian Performing Arts Centre Australia, ticket offices such as Ticketek and the SeatAdvisor Box Office.

Richardson says the data does not capture all performance activity, with activity in regional areas and smaller pub venues not included in the findings.

Other surveys suggest Australia’s pub and hotel music scene is alive and well, with Pollstar’s research placing Melbourne’s Corner Hotel as number 27 in the world in terms of global club venues, having sold 47,438 tickets to live performances in the first half of the year.

Research from Deloitte Access Economics into live music in pubs, clubs, cafes and restaurants in Victoria found the sector was largely “self-sustaining” and in a “healthy state”.

Live music in venues generated an additional $501 million in gross state product for Victoria in 2010-11, but there were concerns as to whether or not this could be continued.

Discretionary spending drives the live performance sector and lower spending on shows is likely to impact businesses such as restaurants.
Tourism is also impacted by the live performance, according to the most recent IBISWorld report on the industry published last year.

The report found popular music events and big name artists attract overseas visitors and the number of productions and music concerts has increased over the past few years.

IBISWorld found 25% of total ticket sales for live performance events came from tourists.

Over the next five years, IBISWorld predicts the industry will grow at 2% per annum to total $1.46 billion by 2017-18.

“This growth will result from stable economic and industry conditions. Financial support from the governments is anticipated to strengthen, as will popular music events, but this will be slightly more subdued than figures obtained throughout the early 2000s,” the report says.

Yesterday, the federal government announced it would create a new office dedicated to live music promotion around Australia.

The move, likely to provide an extra boost to the sector, will see Labor spend $560,000 over the next three years on the National Live Music Office, which will support a new national task force aimed at stimulating the live music sector.


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