Ticket sales here are ‘flying’ – with rocker Rod Stewart due here in June – but promoters face mounting costs
Concert ticket sales in Ireland are close to an all-time high after the easing of Covid-19 controls – although leading promoter Peter Aiken warned there are serious concerns at high insurance costs.
Mr Aiken said that one concert staged at a Dublin venue recently incurred an insurance charge 40 times higher than the same gig for a similar-sized audience in Belfast.
The promoter was speaking as he confirmed Rod Stewart is set for a concert in Cork this summer. He praised fast-food entrepreneur Pat McDonagh for challenging Ireland’s insurance claims culture.
Mr Aiken said ticket sales are “flying” but he also said promoters faced mounting costs, citing rocker Stewart’s Dublin gig late last year.
"To insure Rod Stewart at The Point (3Arena) in the middle of November cost me €10,000 – that is almost €1 per person.
"But to insure it in Belfast was £215.
We are a little bit sheepish saying it because every other industry is struggling because of the cost of living
"I don't know what it is about the North – maybe they are just used to different things happening to them?
"Nobody ever sues in the North for anything."
He said Pat McDonagh, owner of the Supermac’s fast-food brand, had done “a great job” in highlighting the high rate of personal injury claims.
And he said: “The judges aren’t as quick any more to issue. The insurance brokers are now fighting (suspect claims).
"It has been a bit of a racket between the insurance brokers and the lawyers in trying to settle (claims).”
Mr Aiken’s comments after Katie Taylor’s promoter Eddie Hearn said on RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that a concert set for Croke Park had had to be shelved on cost grounds.
The UK promoter had said he couldn't understand why hiring Dublin’s Croke Park amounted to almost three times the cost of hiring Wembley Stadium in London.
There is a great grá in particular for Irish music
"It is expensive – it is costly to do stuff (in Ireland)," Mr Aiken said. "The Point is a costly venue – stadiums are dear."
He said that where acts performed a series of dates at a venue, costs can be spread out over a number of nights. But one-off events focused all of the costs on just one performance.
He said another problem for Irish events was the falling value of the euro against the US dollar, with American acts insisting on being paid in dollars, making the overall costs higher by almost 20pc compared to just five years ago.
"The US dollar was one at 1.28 – but it is now at 1.06. A lot of artists don't care about the local currency – their currency is the US dollar and they want to be paid in it.”
Mr Aiken also pointed out that Ireland is now competing for artists on a worldwide basis, particularly with venues in the cash-rich Gulf states.
"The Qatar World Cup was brilliant – it is an example of what is happening in the world."
Regardless, ticket sales in Ireland are booming as Irish people embrace the live-music scene once more.
"It is back – it is very strong (concert ticket sales)," he said, as he confirmed that Maggie May singer Stewart will headline the Live At The Marquee series in Cork on June 20.
“We are a little bit sheepish saying it because every other industry is struggling because of the cost of living.
"But concert tickets are still flying.
"There is a great grá in particular for Irish music. Tickets sales are very strong."
Major acts including Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band have sold out concert series in Ireland this summer – and Mr Aiken said he expected the Live At The Marquee series, now in its 17th year, to prove hugely popular.