Music gigs beat the gloom with boom in ticket sales
TICKETS for concerts boomed during 2009 despite the harsh economic climate, new figures show.
Ticketmaster said that the number of people attending events for which it provided tickets had increased by 15pc despite the downturn.
The opening of the new O2 Arena to replace the old Point Theatre helped shore up sales.
Ticketmaster managing director Eamonn O'Connor said: "Despite everything, business held up during the year, with ticket sales up by around 15pc on 2008.
"Even in these times, people still want to go out and be entertained, and with so many of the top acts now visiting Ireland, there is a great choice and that is what people are attracted to," he said.
O2 owner Harry Crosbie said he expected almost 1.25 million concert-goers to have attended gigs there during its first year.
Capacity at the venue has been increased from 8,500 to 14,000, with noticeable successes in 2009 including sell-out gigs by Leonard Cohen, Miley Cyrus and Pink.
"People came, and they saw the quality of the new venue and had a better night than they would have before, so they came back again. Even in a recession, especially in a recession, people need diversion," said Mr Crosbie.
Promoter Peter Aiken said 2009 had been a very strong year for touring artists and hit out at critics who claimed weak sales for individual events were signs of a crisis.
"In every year there are shows that don't sell out, whether it's a boom or a recession, but 2009 was strong," he said.
Successes included sell-out gigs by U2 and Take That in Croke Park, and huge attendances at concerts by Bruce Springsteen, Pink and Leonard Cohen.
"Music isn't like other businesses, because it depends who's touring. These things go in waves, people come to prominence suddenly. Nobody had heard of Lady Gaga a year ago, but she's here in February and she's going to be huge."
So far, the giglist for 2010 is short on massive 'heritage' names such as U2, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young, who boosted attendances last year. But Whitney Houston's three concerts at the O2 in April are already sold out, while Rod Stewart in May has been selling strongly.
And official figures appear to back up claims that entertainment is relatively recession-proof -- CSO data shows that while thousands of jobs were slashed from most sectors of the economy, employment in the arts, entertainment and recreation remained untouched in the last year.
There were 54,600 people working in this area last summer -- exactly the same as the year before. Job recruitment experts said event management had been one of the few areas where there had been big demand for workers last year.
However, 2009 was a year of mixed fortunes, as big-name festivals such as Electric Picnic and Oxegen -- which used to be sold out as soon as tickets went on sale -- struggled to attract the same numbers of concert-goers.