Market report: From Russia with live
Global interference in the elections, Novichok, Syria, Ukraine, house prices in London – it’s not hard to find things to blame for “the Russians”. Again, as seasoned Finnish promoter and frequent traveler Juha ‘Richie’ Mattila points out, how would we like to be judged for the sins of our rulers and oligarchs?
“Shouldn’t we be visiting Russia because of Putin?” Yeah, well, everybody should stop touring in the US then, ”he hoots. “His [like] the old adage: don’t judge a book by its cover.
Russia’s renewed role as an international political villain is so ingrained in the Western narrative that it’s easy to forget that there is a real country beneath it – incredibly huge, rich in culture, and with so much good guys.
“You have to remember that Russia is part of Europe, even though politically it’s a little different,” Mattila says.
International sanctions in place since Russia’s annexation of Crimea nearly six years ago have dampened the economy, destabilized the ruble and, from a real point of view, have punctuated the growth of cities. other than St. Petersburg and Moscow.
There was a period, shortly after the sanctions began, when the prospect of seeing international acts even in Russia’s two wealthiest cities seemed uncertain. “Moscow cannot afford foreign artists,” we read in 2015 in an English-language newspaper. The Moscow Times, citing a 95% drop in shows from Western actors due to unaffordable fees.
“Shouldn’t we be visiting Russia because of Putin?” Yeah, well, everybody should stop filming in the States then “
In Moscow and St. Petersburg, the market has rebounded – if not all the way, then enough that the relatively lighter program of international shows has sharpened demand for available tickets.
“It’s been an interesting trend in Russia lately,” said Ed Ratnikov of lead promoter Talent Concert International (TCI), who in October sold 51% of the shares to CTS Eventim.
“The market is down due to sanctions and government policy, and people’s incomes are not improving, but the business is growing.”
In the absence of a full complement of international stars, Russian groups such as Basta, Max Korzh and Zemfira have moved to stadium status. Leningrad, formed in the 1990s in St. Petersburg, the city formerly of the same name, made Russian music history this summer with a stadium tour, performing in Kaliningrad, Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod in June, mid of a series of dates in the arenas. Popular local pop stars include Zivert, Artik & Asti, Cream Soda and Shortparis.
“We have a new generation of children who are born and live in the digital age,” says Ratnikov. “They have their headphones on 24 hours a day, share songs quickly and introduce unknown artists within hours. These kids are now the majority of our ticket buyers and hungry for quality entertainment. “
Russia’s instinct, when it comes to international music, has always been to go big, and its first open-air performances – the 1989 Moscow Peace Music Festival at Luzhniki Stadium (with Bon Jovi, Ozzy and Scorpions), Monsters of Rock from 1991 at Tushino airfield (Metallica, AC / DC et al), The Prodigy at Manezh Square in 1997, Chili Peppers and McCartney in Red Square in 1999 and 2003 – live long in the memory.
“The market is down because of sanctions and government policy, and people’s incomes are not improving, but the business is growing.”
Despite ups and downs, this one-off series model has given way to stable professional activity over the past decade. Russia’s most seasoned developers now have three decades of experience to draw on, and major cities have made great strides as well.
“Russian infrastructure has improved dramatically,” Ratnikov says. “We have new airports, world-class sports arenas and stadiums as well as recognizable hotel chains. Russia has improved very well over the past decade.
Estimates of the size of the Russian banknote market range from Rand 45 billion (£ 545 million) to Rand 60 billion (£ 727 million) per year [source: PwC]. Subject to more favorable economic and diplomatic conditions, the growth margins are still enormous. Moscow has a population of 12.4 million, St. Petersburg 5.4 million, and in the relatively dormant secondary markets there are 13 other cities of over a million, led by Novosibirsk, Ekaterinburg and Nizhny Novgorod. Partly because prices are often out of reach for middle income earners, concerts lag behind cinema and theater in terms of turnover. But an ever-growing contingent of promoters are working hard to change the balance.
“The market is becoming more and more competitive, while the income of the Russians does not tend to increase”, explains Nadia Solovieva, founder of SAV. “But we’re used to this economic reality – that’s how it usually works out here.”
As the infamous artistic collective Pussy Riot can attest, the country’s politicians and legal system are not against meddling in the Russian music scene. Home-made hip-hop has been criticized for low morale, and a series of smaller shows were shut down last year as part of a crackdown on allegedly seditious youth music that has affected artists such as the rapper Siberian Husky and the group of teenagers Frendzona.
More and more large companies are interested in the Russian live industry
But more and more large companies are interested in the Russian live industry. European giant Eventim’s move into promotion follows its ownership of the Parter.ru ticketing operation since 2006. However, in practice, the major influence of companies on the Russian live industry comes from the national behemoths of the technology, mobile telephony and finance, which have claimed entertainment tickets as a feature. of their own larger online offering.
Russian internet titan Yandex increased its share of the e-ticketing market to around 20% over the summer with the acquisition of TicketSteam. Yandex rival Mail.Ru Group invested in Moscow-based ticket aggregator TIWO’s ticketing platform at the same time, while Russian bank Tinkoff has a 20% stake in the market leader. of the Kassir.ru concert ticket office since 2018, when the mobile phone giant MTS also broke up the main ticket offices Ticketland and Ponominalu.
“It’s about creating ecosystems and markets,” said Vitaly Vinogradov, CEO of Ticketland. International IQ ticketing directory 2019.
The next step for Russia and elsewhere, believes Katerina Kirillova, co-founder of local blockchain distribution companies Tickets Cloud and Crypto.Tickets, will be a shift to smart ticketing. When promoters and sellers can track and control tickets using blockchain technology, she suggests, data, marketing and anti-tapping value will follow, as consumers are rewarded with secure tickets. and music-focused social networking opportunities.
Existing banknotes don’t need to be threatened by the dawn of crypto, according to Kirillova, who adds that Tickets Cloud is in the process of securing its next round of funding. “None of the traditional resellers wanted to integrate with us because they saw us as competitors, but now we have almost all of the key resellers integrated as partners,” says Kirillova. “We don’t want to compete with them, but we want to provide the technology.
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