Croatia’s live music business has been “exceptionally strong” in 2023 so far, thanks to the country’s adoption of the Euro and an increase in international fans.
“Switching to the Euro helped in raising ticket prices and the public seems ready to follow that. Now we can come pretty close to Western European ticket prices – something that was unheard of four to five years ago,” says Mario Grdosic, managing director of Croatian independent promoter LAA.
Based in the Croatian capital of Zagreb, LAA typically promotes 50-75 shows a year with previous clients including Foo Fighters, Iron Maiden, Duran Duran, Pet Shop Boys, The xx, The Prodigy, The Cult, Whitesnake, Lorde, Slayer and King Gizzard.
“IF SOMEONE TOLD ME THREE YEARS AGO I WOULD SELL A TICKET FOR CLOSE TO €150, I DEFINITELY WOULDN’T HAVE BELIEVED IT”
LAA has held around 30 shows so far this year with “only three to four concerts underperforming,” Grdosic tells IQ.
The company’s biggest offerings in H1 were Florence + The Machine in Pula Arena, and two nights with Robbie Williams in the same venue. Grdosic says those shows are the perfect example of how switching from the Croatian Kuna (KN) to the Euro has helped business.
“I had the Foo Fighters in June 2019 in Pula Arena and our prices then were KN370–460, which was €49–62, and there were some complaints on socials that we were charging way too high,” he explains.
“This year, four years later and with prices in Euro, we had Florence and Robbie in Pula with tickets between €75–139 and nobody said a word.
“WHEN SUPER-FANS PLAN TO TRAVEL TO SEE THEIR FAVOURITE ARTISTS, THEY’RE INCREASINGLY CHOOSING CROATIA”
“If someone told me three years ago I would sell a ticket for close to €150, I definitely wouldn’t have believed it. It was unimaginable here for the biggest shows some five to six years ago…”
And it’s not just domestic fans that are putting their hands in their pockets; Grdosic notes an increasing trend of international fans attending shows in Croatia.
“When super-fans plan to travel to see their favourite artists, they’re increasingly choosing Croatia. For the Robbie Williams shows, around 45% of ticketholders came from outside of Croatia,” he says.
“Even in Zagreb, which was never a particularly strong touristic destination, we now have club shows where 70% of tickets are from Croatia and 30% are from elsewhere. That was never the case some seven to eight years ago.”
“WE’LL SEE IF THERE IS ENOUGH MONEY IN FANS’ POCKETS TO FOLLOW THE TREND INTO 2024/2025…”
While Grdosic is revelling in the market’s upswing, he does admit that 2023 may be an anomaly. “This is a bit of an unusual year, being the first year after Covid and the first with prices in Euros. When things do settle down a bit, I expect people to be more cautious with their money and for 2024 to be a bit less successful than this year.”
The market is also facing universal challenges such as inflation, staff shortages and over-saturation in the market. “But I’m definitely happy with how most things have sold this year,” he adds. “There’s so much stuff happening, so many choices for fans, and ticket prices are higher – it’s better than I expected it to be. We’ll see if there is enough money in fans’ pockets to follow the trend into 2024/2025…”
LAA’s upcoming shows include Tasha Sultana at Tvornica Kulture in Zagreb and two nights with Sigur Ros at Saint Michael’s Fortress in Šibenik.
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