Live events come alive, with small towns as new patrons

According to BookMyShow’s year-end wrap Best of 2023, the appetite for on-ground live events surged last year. (iStockphoto)
According to BookMyShow’s year-end wrap Best of 2023, the appetite for on-ground live events surged last year. (iStockphoto)

Summary

  • While the initial enthusiasm was attributed to revenge consumption, as people emerged after being confined to their homes by covid, footfalls have mostly sustained, industry experts say

Post-pandemic recovery continues for India’s live-events business that is curating everything from music festivals to multiple-city comedy tours for young audiences craving outdoor experiences.

While the initial enthusiasm for such events was attributed to revenge consumption, as people emerged after being confined to their homes by covid-19, footfalls have mostly sustained, industry experts said, with smaller cities joining the list of patrons for such events. English singer and songwriter Ed Sheeran will perform in Mumbai this March, while comedy tours featuring Kanan Gill and Sahil Shah, apart from live concerts and performances by Asha Bhosle, Arijit Singh, Sunidhi Chauhan, Yuvan Shankar Raja and Harris Jayaraj, are lined up across various Indian cities.

“The year 2023 has marked a shift in India’s live entertainment landscape, with a resurgence of real-life experiences post-pandemic. While this is obviously heightened across metro markets, it is not confined to these alone. Tier-two and tier-three cities are now the thriving hubs for out-of-home entertainment, showing tremendous growth and evolution in their appetite," Owen Roncon, chief of business – live entertainment, BookMyShow, said.

This Decentralization has been a game-changer, Roncon emphasized, as artistes are embarking on expansive tours spanning 15-plus cities, as exemplified by comedian Vir Das’ 22-city tour. Events in tier-two and tier-three cities are experiencing a rapid sell-out phenomenon, driven by a strategic blend of audience capacity management and effective pricing strategies, he pointed out.

Meanwhile, with exposure to global artistes, music and comedy, audiences in India have become receptive to diverse intellectual properties (IPs). Over the past few years, BookMyShow has seen traction for live-event IPs, including international acts such as the Ed Sheeran and Aziz Ansari shows, Cirque Du Soleil BAZZAR, Disney’s Aladdin, NBA India Games 2019, Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N., Peppa Pig Live!, U2: The Joshua Tree Tour—India (2019), Over the Top Tour with AP Dhillon (2021), Post Malone’s debut India performance at the Feeding India Concert (2022) and Trevor Noah: Off The Record Tour—India, among others.

According to BookMyShow’s year-end wrap Best of 2023, the appetite for on-ground live events surged last year, with approximately 13.5 million attendees, reflecting an 82% year-on-year growth in specially-curated international live events. BookMyShow Live experienced a 2.3-fold increase in its consumer cohort of premium event-goers.

The demographic breakdown revealed that 39% of the live entertainment audience comprised Gen Z, while 49% were millennials.

Gen Z remains a prime target for brands, but more millennials are engaging with live events, possibly due to increased disposable income, Varun Khare, business head, Paytm Insider, which lists events and sells tickets for them, said. “City-wise, there’s substantial growth, expanding from four to five metros pre-covid to 12-16, encompassing tier-two cities with a sizable young population enjoying live experiences. Entering tier-three cities, Paytm Insider observes heightened demand for celebration and music festivals," Khare added. While music is still the lowest-hanging fruit by way of mediums to engage audiences at a larger scale, the event landscape has expanded to include diverse experiences around alternative pop culture and F&B festivals, he pointed out.

Typically, the first quarter of the year is most amenable to holding these events, as the mellow weather allows for larger-format outdoor performances. However, the industry is still bracing for challenges. 

Roshan Abbas, founder of Kommune, a performing arts collective for storytellers, agreed that while ticket prices and footfalls have increased, sponsorships are down and moving more towards content partnerships. “All brands have realized that an on-ground presence is good to have, but user-generated and creator-led content is far more relevant," he pointed out.

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