In the past year, a number of top international acts have played to almost sold-out stadiums around the country. Rihanna, R Kelly and Justin Bieber fans packed the FNB, Ellis Park and Cape Town stadiums to capacity while John Legend enthusiasts filled the Sandton Convention Centre recently.

Securing internationals artists is a highly lucrative industry that is worth millions. South Africa’s leading concert promoter, Big Concerts is at the forefront of this industry.

Founded 20 years ago by Attie van Wyk, the company has positioned itself as a live entertainment company that has promoted more than 1 600 shows by over 300 international artists to more than 10 million people.

The company has brought U2, Michael Jackson, Robbie Williams, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Metallica, Neil Diamond, Coldplay, The Eagles, Kings of Leon and Elton John among others. The company has most recently hosted Bryan Adams and Bruce Springsteen.


Justin van Wyk, managing director of Big Concerts explains that arranging a tour takes a considerable amount of effort, manpower and money. Van Wyk says before an act is even considered, his management and marketing team examines personal tastes, album sales, feedback from industry leaders and box office results from international markets. Once a final decision is made, an agent is then contacted to discuss the tour.

This process can take from three months to 15 years depending on how often the artist tours says Van Wyk. However, securing the artist takes the longest, while preparing for the show itself takes between six and 12 months.

Once an artist has been finalised, the affordability of the ticket prices by the public, availability of venue and technical feasibility is costed. Finer details such as stadium hire, security, accommodation and transport arrangements are settled. The costs of these range from R1 million to R120 million.

Before an act is even considered, management and marketing teams examine personal tastes, album sales, feedback from industry leaders and box office results from international markets

With ticket prices going for an average of R600 in the case of Rihanna’s concert, and Golden-Circle tickets priced at about R1 000, ticket sales for an event could reach in excess of R38 million. This excludes the amount vendors pay to rent stalls in and around the stadium areas at each concert and brands that have chosen to sponsor the tour.

Brand building

Concerts also bring in a substantial amount of revenue for brands, such as Miller Genuine Draft, which is bringing in rapper Kendrick Lamar to perform in three cities this month. Miller Marketing Manager Carmen Hobbs says bringing in international artists is part of Miller’s strategic marketing focus. The brand also brought in hip-hopper 2Chainz last year to perform at the Durban July.