Pearl Jam, Rage Against The Machine, Foo Fighters, and other major rock bands had tours scheduled for 2020 pushed to 2021 due to the pandemic, but Live Nation’s CEO has hinted that fans may have to wait for major tours like Pearl Jam’s until 2022.
Live Nation Entertainment, Inc. today released financial results for the quarter ended December 31, 2020. The company’s concert revenue plunged to $1.46 billion for 2020 from $9.43 billion the previous year, and ticketing dropped to $188.4 million from $1.54 billion in the same period, and sponsorship and advertising was down to $203.7 million from $590.3 million. Live Nation ended 2020 with $1.86 billion in revenue, down 84% from from the previous year, with a 92% drop in revenue in the fourth quarter.
Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino said in a statement: “Over the last year, leaders across all our business lines of concerts, ticketing and sponsorship have been analyzing ways to improve their businesses. Some of our key initiatives include: re-organizing to become more nimble while also reducing our cost structure by $200 million; Building concert streaming and direct to consumer businesses to expand our revenue streams; Advancing our technology initiatives globally while accelerating the shift to digital tickets to meet changing needs of fans, venues and artists; and reinforcing our balance sheet to endure this period, while maintaining a strong position to build our business for the future and act on opportunities as we identify them, such as our recent acquisition of the streaming platform Veeps and a continued pipeline of bolt-on acquisitions throughout the globe.
“So while this past year has been challenging for the company, our employees, fans, artists and so many others globally impacted by COVID, I have never been more excited about the opportunities in front of us.
“We continue to have a substantial tailwind in the live event industry, as consumers more than ever are looking to spend on experiences. The supply-demand fundamentals of the concerts business remain strong, with artists ready to get back on the road and fans eager to reconnect at events. All our data continues to show that there is substantial pent-up demand for concerts on the consumer demand side. The $2.4 trillion projected surplus in savings in the U.S. alone by June is a key indicator of consumer spending potential. At the same time, surveys demonstrate the high demand for concerts globally, with 95% of fans likely to attend a show when restrictions are lifted. This is proving out in fan behavior as well, with 83% of fans continuing to hold onto their tickets for rescheduled shows.
“On the artist side, there is a broad desire to get back on stage — to connect with their fans and to provide economic support to their bands, crew, and the hundreds of others employed each night putting on the show. Given the limited touring activity in 2020 and 2021, the pipeline for 2022 is much stronger than usual, with almost twice as many major touring artists on cycle in 2022 than a typical year — about 45 artists versus the usual 25. And there remains plenty of scheduling availability at arenas, amphitheaters and stadiums to accommodate these additional tours, with over two-thirds of these venues’ nights unused by sporting events or major concerts in a typical year.
“It appears that the timing to release the pent-up supply and demand is now approaching. Vaccine distribution is accelerating and declines in Covid cases throughout most of the world gives us even more confidence that a safe and meaningful return to shows will soon be possible. For both the U.S. and U.K., projections indicate that everyone who wants to get vaccinated will be able to do so by May or June, with Europe and most other markets following a few months later. Given the massive social and economic toll that the lockdown has had on the public, we believe there will be strong momentum to reopen society swiftly as soon as vaccines are readily available. And we believe outdoor activities will be the first to happen.
“So while the timing of our return to live will continue to vary across global markets, every sign points to it beginning safely in many countries sometime this summer and scaling further from there.”
At the end of the fourth quarter of 2020, Live Nation had total cash and cash equivalents of $2.5 billion, which includes $643 million of free cash. This free cash, along with $962 million of available debt capacity and taking into account the additional $417 million of net cash added to the balance sheet with the debt raise in early January, gives the company $2.0 billion of available liquidity. The company believes this level of liquidity provides it with the ability to fund operations until the expected return of concerts in the summer of 2021, preceded by ticket sales earlier in the year.
The global refund rate for the company’s concerts that are rescheduled and are in or have gone through a refund window is 17% through the end of the fourth quarter of 2020. Festivals have generally canceled this year’s event, but for festivals where fans can retain their tickets for next year’s show, approximately 63% of fans are keeping their tickets.
Across both concerts and festivals, since March the company has refunded $282 million for rescheduled Live Nation shows and $842 million for canceled Live Nation shows. Of this $1.1 billion total, $460 million was from funds held by third-party venues and $663 million was from Live Nation-held funds.
The company still has some shows in the process of rescheduling, or that are rescheduled but not yet offering refunds. In addition, refunds may occur in the future for additional cancelations or rescheduled events resulting from the global shutdown of our live events. Based on current and estimated future impacted events and fan behavior, Live Nation has recorded $102 million in additional fan refunds from Live Nation-held funds. As a result, the company has reclassified these funds from deferred revenue to accrued ticket refunds as of the fourth quarter of 2020.
The company’s deferred revenue for events over the next 12 months was $1.5 billion as of December 31, 2020 as compared to $1.4 billion as of September 30, 2020. This increase was due to ticket sales for future events, sales for events scheduled for Q4 2021 shifting from long-term to current deferred revenue as well as currency impacts on Live Nation’s international deferred revenue balances.