| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Jan 8 Live Nation Inc (LYV.N), the
world's largest concert promoter, said on Thursday it has seen
no weakness in ticket sales for 2009 despite investor concern
that fewer fans will pay to see their favorite bands due to the
Live Nation shares rose 18 percent in late-afternoon
Chief Executive Michael Rapino said the company sold 2.91
million tickets for 1,213 shows for the year ended Dec. 15,
compared with 2.95 million tickets from 1,206 shows a year
earlier. Most concert tickets are sold many months in advance.
"You can't have those numbers sitting here today and say no
one's going to show up next year; we'd have felt something by
now," Rapino said in a presentation to investors.
He noted that fourth-quarter sales were not down from the
year-ago period despite the severe economic downturn that
started around October.
"We don't see it yet," he added.
He said average net ticket prices for arena shows for big
name artists did drop to $68.18 from $75.34 in the year-earlier
"In our business we don't mind if a price of a ticket goes
down; our job is to get as many bums in seats as possible,"
Live Nation earns a relatively small commission on shows
that it promotes, with most of its revenue driven by ancillary
concert items such as car parking and T-shirt sales, and by
sponsorship. In its presentation to investors the company said
more than 53 percent of its sponsorship was already committed
for 2009 compared with 41 percent a year ago.
Rapino said the company had successfully launched its own
ticketing service on Jan. 1 and has already sold more than
177,000 tickets at 52 of its own venues which include Jones
Beach Theater in New York and Gibson Amphitheatre in Universal
City, California. Overall, the company says it will sell more
than 40 percent of total tickets via its livenation.com website
in 2009 compared with just 11 percent last year.
Previously Ticketmaster Entertainment Inc TKTM.O sold
tickets at all Live Nation venues under a long-term
arrangement. The company ended that relationship and launched
its own service in a bid to improve its profit margins. Rapino
said managing its own ticketing service at its venues more than
doubles the margins on those shows.
Even after ending the ticketing relationship at Live Nation
venues, Rapino said Ticketmaster still sells tickets for 47
percent of the events that Live Nation promotes.
Live Nation shares rose 98 to $6.39 on the New York Stock
(Reporting by Yinka Adegoke; editing by Richard Chang)