Though other industry executives feel otherwise, Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino remains confident about live music returning to the US by Summer 2021.
In a memo issued to investors this week, Rapino said he expects live events to “return to scale” in time for the summer concert season of 2021.
While the future of live music depends primarily on the country’s ability to get a handle on the coronavirus pandemic, Rapino said there is a pent-up demand for concerts. A recent survey conducted by Live Nation showed that “concerts remain fans’ highest priority social event when it is safe to gather, with almost 90% of fans globally planning on attending concerts again,” Rapino noted.
As such, 86% of ticket-holders have opted to hold onto their existing tickets as opposed to seeking a refund. Additionally, the company has sold 19 million new tickets to more than four thousand concerts scheduled for 2021, “creating a strong baseload of demand that is pacing well ahead of this point last year.”
Not everyone agrees with Rapino’s assessment, however. Marc Geiger, the former global head of music at talent agency William Morris Entertainment and co-founder of Lollapalooza, believes it won’t be until 2022 before live music returns.
During a recent interview with The Bob Lefsetz Podcast, Rapino outlined several challenges the concert industry must overcome. “The virus and illness being one, spacing and density” being another, he explained. A third, Geiger noted, will be insurance and liability. “With [COVID], there’s infinite liability,” he said, noting the challenge venues and promoters will face in finding an insurer willing to cover their events.
Whether it’s in 2021 or 2022, the live music landscape will likely look vastly different than it did in 2019. Upwards of 90% of independently owned venues face permanent closure unless they receive longterm financial assistance from Congress. Between lackluster royalties and an inability to tour, many professional musicians also find themselves in dire straits.
As such, please support the National Independent Venue Association, which is working to secure financial assistance for independent venues. Also consider donating to charitable organizations like MusiCares’ COVID-19 Artist Relief Fund, Sweet Relief, and Artist Relief Project, which are providing financial assistance to independent musicians. Here at Consequence of Sound, we’re donating a portion of all proceeds from our web store to MusiCares, so go ahead and pick up a face mask or T-shirt.