Emma Bownes
VP of Programming (Europe) AEG Europe & The O2

The O2 in London, England, after more than 15 years as a landmark arena, is still breaking records. In 2023, the iconic building hosted its 3,000th event and sold more than 2.5 million tickets — “our highest ever in a single year,” said Emma Bownes, VP of programming at AEG Europe and The O2. “We had some incredible artists take to the stage last year and several standout residencies which contributed hugely to this record-breaking success.” She mentions a sold-out monthly residency from comedian Peter Kay, 10 nights of Elton John and six nights of Madonna as her only UK shows on her current tour. “We’re so grateful to these artists for choosing The O2 for these special shows and can’t wait to build on last year’s success in 2024.”

According to Bownes, the post-COVID enthusiasm for live shows is something “we’re seeing play out across all of our European markets. For example, it’s incredible to see so many huge tours in 2024 playing across all three of our AEG Europe arenas – The O2 in London, Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin, and Barclays Arena in Hamburg. Another notable trend we’re seeing is the volume of shows going on sale with only a short window between the announcement, on-sale and the event taking place.”

Despite programming a building with a 20,000-plus capacity, Bownes never forgets the grassroots sector. The O2 is on tap to host a fundraising gig for grassroots venues later this year, offering the venue at zero rent to promoters with all proceeds supporting the Music Venues Trust grassroots investment program.

Bownes, who joined the Music Venues Trust as a trustee toward the end of last year, says, “Across the UK, 125 small music venues closed in 2023, and as an industry we need to find a way to help protect these venues, as they’re so important for the live music ecosystem.”


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