MCD back in the black thanks to 8% increase in ticket sales

Concert promoters MCD Productions returned to profit last year after recording an 8% increase in the number of concert tickets sold to 1.54m.

In an interview, MCD Productions chief executive Denis Desmond confirmed that the company returned to profit last year after recording a loss in 2010.

US-based trade journal, Pollstar confirms that MCD was the 10th largest promoter in the world last year in terms of tickets sold, selling 1.54m tickets — Live Nation was the largest with 22m tickets sold.

Mr Desmond said: “We are very happy to be up there. It is a lot of tickets sold. Irish people love their music and their concerts.”

The 1.54m tickets sold by MCD last year follows the firm selling 1.43m tickets in 2010 — an increase of 110,000.

MCD Productions does not file annual accounts as it is an unlimited company. However, an auditor’s report lodged by auditors DKC confirm MCD recorded a loss in the 12 months to the end of Dec 2010.

Mr Desmond said 2010 was a busy year but the company recorded a loss arising from costs associated with a structural reorganisation and writedown of irrecoverable debts.

Mr Desmond declined to comment further on the structural reorganisation.

However, the firm’s bottom line would have taken a hit in 2010 from costs associated with the High Court case involving Mr Desmond and his former business partner Eamonn McCann over their business partnership, which was settled in Dec 2010 after eight days in court.

On the bad debts, Mr Desmond said: “We’re not as trusting as we once were. We pay the artists upfront and now we make sure that we are paid up front as well.”

This coming summer, acts that MCD Productions are bringing to Ireland to perform include Madonna, Lady Gaga, Jay-Z and Kanye West, Westlife, The Stones Roses, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, David Guetta, and the Swedish House Mafia.

However, figures from Pollstar underline the impact MCD’s decision not to stage Oxegen for 2012 will have on the firm’s revenues this year.

According to Pollstar, Oxegen generated the fifth biggest box office across the world outside the US last year, with 191,656 or 95% of tickets sold, generating €14.7m in revenue.

This compares to Oxegen being the fourth highest grossing box office event in 2010, with 225,000 or 97% of tickets sold (increased capacity in 2010) generating €16.4m in revenue to see Jay-Z, the Black Eyed Peas, and other acts.

The figures also show MCD’s sold-out Kings of Leon gig at Slane Castle last year generated ticket sales of €5.7m, while the promoter’s Neil Diamond Dublin gig last June was the 98th highest grossing concert outside the US, generating revenues of €2.4m, with 89% of tickets sold.

Mr Desmond said Oxegen will return next year. “We are resting Oxegen for one year. Glastonbury is doing the same and Oxegen will be back in 2013.”

Mr Desmond said the costs of staging Oxegen, including insurance and policing, “are very high”. “We need to lower our overheads with Oxegen, but it will be back next year.”

Mr Desmond also said that 2012 “is looking very positive”.

MCD employs 37 people at its Dublin office and Mr Desmond said MCD shows in Dublin produce an average annual dividend of €100m for the local economy, with hotels and retailers just some of the businesses to benefit. Oxegen produces a yearly dividend of €40m for the Kildare area.

Mr Desmond said: “The Westlife concerts at Croke Park, along with the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Madonna shows and other MCD gigs, will generate a €100m spin-off for Dublin this year.”

The promoter added: “Business is good. It’s getting harder to make a profit now, but it is still a good industry.”

Mr Desmond established MCD Productions 30 years and said: “I love music but the music business is my passion.”

He said he usually deals with artists’ managers and agents rather than the artists themselves. He said: “I have a lot of friendships in the business over the years.”


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