It is sometimes difficult to wrap one’s mind around the kind of money that music is related to today, whether it is from what the labels are reporting (yes, they are still reporting quarterly returns in the billons: for Q3 2023 Universal Music Group reported that its overall recorded music revenues were $2.21 billion, and while that is a large number, Sony did even better in its music business, with a haul of $2.33 billion) or what the streaming services are taking in (although not necessarily making money: in the third quarter of 2023 Spotify reported its first profit in more than a year, with net income of $69.1 million, from 574 million monthly active users (MAUs), and just to give you a sense of how many people that is, if you add the population of the 10 largest cities in the world—Tokyo, Delhi, Shanghai, Dhaka, Sao Paulo, Mexico City, Cairo, Beijing, Mumbai, and Osaka—it sums to about 251 million people, or about 44% of the Spotify monthly MAUs).
So let’s narrow this to something more comprehensible. The earnings of the Las Vegas Sphere*, the venue that opened on September 29. It is 366 feet tall and 516 feet at its widest point.
On the exterior there are 580,000-square feet of LEDs. The LEDs are segmented into pucks, of which there are 1.2 million. Each puck includes 48 LED diodes. Can you say “advertising”? The people at MSG (as in “Madison Square Garden”) Networks and Sphere Entertainment Company can. During its Q1 2024 earnings call (no, this is not something that happens in the future; fiscal years don’t necessary track with calendars as we know them), James Lawerence Dolan, executive chairman and CEO of Sphere Entertainment said that early in September, before the venue was opened, the exterior (which they call the “Exosphere”) promoted NFL Sunday ticket. “This was quickly followed,” he continued, “by other prominent brands, including PlayStation, Meta, Xbox, and Coca-Cola.” Dolan added, “We have a healthy pipeline of advertising commitments for the Exosphere and over the coming months you will see a constant rotation of impactful campaigns from many prominent global brands.” Of course.