When American band Backstreet Boys toured India in May after 13 years, their concerts were fully booked in both Mumbai and Gurugram. Earlier in January, when the Chicago-originated Lollapalooza music festival made its India debut, a record 60,000 attendees made the 50-acre Mahalakshmi Racecourse grounds in Mumbai their home for the two days of the multi-genre musical extravaganza. Going by the mammoth attendance and successful wrap-up, festival producer and promoters BookMyShow later said the festival would be back next year.
Live entertainment, including live music concerts, is seeing a massive resurgence in India post-pandemic. Statistically, in 2022 alone, about 8 million enthusiasts stepped out for live entertainment experiences for over 19,000 events throughout the year, as per BookMyShow’s annual end-of-year report, including events produced and promoted by the entertainment company, as also those listed on its platform with commendable numbers coming in from Tier II and III cities as well, said Owen Roncon, chief of business, live entertainment, BookMyShow.
For Paytm Insider, a live entertainment and digital experience platform, too, 2022 was a great year. “Over 6 million fans stepped out to enjoy onground live experiences with us and we saw growth across all categories, including artiste tours, comedy, sports, lifestyle festivals and brand-led campaigns, all of which had their best seasons yet, contributing to making the year a success,” said Varun Khare, business head, Paytm Insider.
The company saw a 2.5x growth in monthly active users, 4x growth in revenue and 4.5x growth in first-time buyers compared to pre-Covid numbers.
“This year too, we will continue our associations with some of the most loved lifestyle festivals, music and comedy tours as we also look to build on the success of IPL, SAFF Championship, PKL, with sports leagues across the country,” he added.
Several factors are contributing to the growing response to live entertainment in India, which remains the second-largest market when it comes to audio streaming numbers for artistes globally, as per Roncon of BookMyShow. “It is thus becoming a focus region for international artistes and performers as they sharpen their performances to cater to growing fans here. This, coupled with audiences demanding premium and unique experiences in India on a par with what they experience the world over, plus promoters and organisers (like BookMyShow Live) working with consumer data to provide quality stage productions on a larger scale are all creating a wave of live entertainment,” he added.
Agreed a representative of Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre, the country’s newest and biggest cultural hub located in Mumbai, that has already welcomed more than 3,50,000 audiences within just three months of launch. “The response that the cultural centre has received is phenomenal, with shows sold out even on weekdays. This illustrates that the live events and entertainment space in India is quite vast, and that Indians have a growing appetite for art and culture,” added the representative.
Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, there is still a strong demand for live entertainment in India, said Sanjoy K Roy, managing director of Teamwork Arts, a multi-genre live entertainment company based in New Delhi. “The country has a vibrant cultural scene and people are eager to experience concerts, festivals and other live events once again. The industry is adapting to the new normal, embracing technology and finding innovative ways to engage audiences while ensuring safety,” he added.
The 2023 edition of Teamwork Arts’ flagship event, Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF), saw footfalls (150,000) increase by three times in comparison to the 2022 edition. “Of our over 30 annual festivals, 27 are back on the ground with a footprint online. Last year, we added two new festivals —The Sacred: Amritsar (a festival of music and poetry) and India in the Alps (an Indian cultural festival) in Switzerland. This year, we have added JLF Spain with a footprint in Madrid and Valladolid, and hope to add two more festivals soon,” added Roy.
Within the live entertainment space, music has been one of the fastest-growing categories. For BookMyShow, music shows contributed to 25% of the revenue and 15% of the total ticket sales since the waning of the pandemic-induced lockdown. “In fact, both the number of music events hosted and the number of tickets sold for music shows have already touched 80% of the 2022 music events roster in less than six months of 2023 on BookMyShow,” explained Roncon.
Live music events featuring electronic dance music (EDM) saw a 65% growth in ticket sales in 2022 compared to 2019 comprising almost all, if not all sold-out shows, with Sunburn which is Asia’s largest EDM festival, stealing the thunder for the genre, as per Roncon.
Just to give an idea of ticket prices, the ones for the Gurugram show of The Backstreet Boys were priced at Rs 6,000 and Rs 12,000. For the Arijit Singh concert in Kolkata earlier this year, a bronze ticket cost Rs 2,500, silver Rs 4,000, gold Rs 8,000, platinum Rs 10,500, and diamond lounge Rs 75,000. These prices can even go higher, as a similar concert of the popular playback singer in Mumbai featured a premium lounge ticket for a whopping Rs 16 lakh.
For Paytm Insider, however, sports has always been one of the categories where the company has seen massive demand. “We’ve ticketed the IPL for a majority of seasons, including this year, where we ticketed for 60% of the teams, apart from other leagues like SAFF Championship, ISL, PKL, Hockey Men’s World Cup and more. With other sports leagues ahead, this will continue to be a high-demand category this year,” added Khare.
Meanwhile, apart from the big-ticket events in music, other genres such as family entertainment are also becoming popular now. In 2022 alone, BookMyShow witnessed 1,35,000 tickets booked for family entertainment events. “In 2023, we’ve already clocked in 70,000 tickets booked in five months alone, further reiterating the potential the category holds and the rising demand,” said a BookMyShow official.
Theatricals, which include musicals, plays and/or interactive theatre, are also becoming popular. Last year, theatricals accounted for 7% of the total family entertainment bookings at BookMyShow. This year, in just the first five months, theatricals have crossed the 23% mark in the category, showing more than 3x growth, the BookMyShow official added.
Meanwhile, amid fake tracks generated by artificial intelligence (AI) already penetrating streaming sites, posing a threat, live music concerts will boost artists’ income, say experts.