If live music is going to survive this pandemic, it’s going to have to adapt. While most of the United States, Arkansas aside, is still doing without concerts and festivals entirely, other countries are already starting to experiment. Denmark, for example, has been having socially distanced drive-in concerts for fans in cars. We’re probably going to be seeing more of that kind of thing as time goes on.
As the head of the world’s largest concert promoter, Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino is as good a person as any to ask about the future of the industry. And at the end of the company’s first-quarter earnings call on Thursday, Variety reports, Rapino fielded questions about when and how live music events might be able to return.
“So over the next six months, we’ll be starting slow and small, focusing on the basics and testing regionally,” he said. “But whether it’s in Arkansas or [another] state that is safe, secure, and politically fine to proceed in, we’re going to dabble in fan-less concerts with broadcasts and reduced-capacity shows, because we can make the math work. There are a lot of great artists that can sell out an arena, but they’ll do higher-end theaters or clubs.”
“So you’re gonna see us [gradually reopening] in different countries, whether it’s Finland, Asia, Hong Kong — certain markets are farther ahead [in the recovery process],” he continued. “Over the summer there will be testing happening, whether it’s fan-less concerts, which offer great broadcast opportunities and are really important for our sponsorship business; drive-in concerts, which we’re going to test and roll out and we’re having some success with; or reduced-capacity festival concerts, which could be outdoors in a theater on a large stadium floor, where there’s enough room to be safe.”
“We think in the fall, if there are no second hotspots, you’ll see markets around the world [reopening] — Europe, specifically, has talked about opening up 5000-plus [gatherings] in September,” Rapino concluded. “And on the venue side, we’re dealing with federal, the White House, every government body you can imagine, and we’ve got a great task force around what we have to do with the venue to make you safe. So I think in the fall you’ll see more experimenting and more shows happening in a theater setting, into some arenas. And then our goal is really to be on sale in the third and fourth quarters for 2021 at full scale.”