By Pat Christenson for LVSportsBiz.com
This is how I autograph my book Rock Vegas:
“I hope you enjoy the history and stories
about how Vegas became
the #1 live music destination in the world”
From herein I will replace “destination” with “market.” It is now statistically indisputable. This past month Pollstar Magazine, “The Voice of Live,” announced the creation of the Concert Market Rankings. Las Vegas is not only number one, but first by a wide margin. The barometer to measure the strength of a concert market is “gross ticket sales.” In the past year, Las Vegas grossed $197 million selling 1 million tickets to its live music events.
How big is the difference? The average ticket price for live music in Las Vegas is $192. Los Angeles is a distant second with a $98 ATP. (See the graphic below) Why is this important?
Artists perform where they can generate the highest gross and produce a show that supports their brand. Las Vegas has been on a venue-building binge, which combined with the investment in quality rooms, dining, nightclubs, day clubs and other shows, gives fans a full menu of entertainment options to go with their concerts.
One month Garth Brooks sells out Allegiant Stadium. Seven months later he is singing, playing, and telling stories in the 5,000-seat Dolby Theater.
Las Vegas’ concert market has been on an uphill trajectory since 1993, when MGM Grand Garden opened and not only altered the price of the average concert ticket in Vegas, but in the country. Since then, more than twelve theaters and clubs with seating capacities ranging from 1,800 to 5,000 opened and another half dozen have transformed the entertainment in their showrooms to live music.
In 2011, AEG and Caesars joined forces to build a 4,000-seat venue for Celine Dion. She played 70 dates the first year. Today, there are more than 600 dates filled with the latest rage in Vegas –residencies. Prior to that, music festivals like EDC and Life is Beautiful broke the mold here creating unique sensory experiences that don’t require pitching a tent.
Before 2016, cities handed events over to Las Vegas by default. We did not have a modern arena or stadium. There was a lot of optimism when T-Mobile Arena and Allegiant Stadium were proposed, but no one predicted what is occurring.
In addition to the Golden Knights and Raiders shattering every economic expectation, these venues provided the tool to capitalize on the city’s investment in the visitor experience. No place is that more evident than live music.
A new venue in a market usually has a one-year honeymoon period in which the newness enhances the number of concerts, gross and attendance.
In a stadium that may mean four or five concerts. Allegiant Stadium is on track to do more than a dozen. Just this past month Metallica and Billy Joel played separately on consecutive evenings selling more than 80,000 tickets and grossing $13.8 million.
Not sure that’s been done before, but I bet it’s not the last time. And…the stadium’s production crew had to think outside the box to ready for the three stage ACM Awards production the following weekend.
In November, the Rolling Stones exceeded the double-billed weekend grossing $14.8 million. And there’s more coming. BTS (four shows), Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Weeknd, Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe and Bad Bunny cap the year.
Allegiant Stadium Honeymooners
Illenium – July 3, 2021
Garth Brooks – July 10, 2021
Guns ‘N Roses – August 27, 2021
Rolling Stones – November 6, 2021
Metallica – February 25, 2022
Billy Joel – February 26, 2022
ACM Awards Show – March 7, 2022
BTS – April 8,9,15,16, 2022
Red Hot Chili Peppers – August 6, 2022
The Weeknd – August 20, 2022
Mötley Crüe, Def Leppard, Poison and Joan Jett – September 9, 2022
Bad Bunny – September 23, 24, 2022
Why does all this matter? In addition to keeping 20 percent of the gaming/hotel work force gainfully employed, multiply the concert gross ($197 million) by 9 percent (Live Entertainment Tax).
That’s just the beginning. Approximately 80 percent of tickets sold are to visitors. From the time they hear those slot machines jingling as they exit the jetway, they are paying your taxes…gaming, hotel, taxi, gas, food…
I moved here in 1980. At that time, the only live music venues were the Aladdin and Convention Center Rotunda. If you want more proof there is no end to this live music explosion, you won’t have to wait long. In 2023, the Sphere opens. There are no words that do justice to this gift that will be bestowed upon Las Vegas. And…there will only be ONE!