Let’s face it, the music industry is in big trouble, small venues may disappear because unable to reopen after the coronavirus crisis, and big businesses like LiveNation and Goldenvoice are currently losing tons of money. According to Rolling Stone, Live Nation is reporting a 21% drop in revenue for the first quarter of 2020, as concert revenue is down by 25% and ticket revenue by 16%. Shares of Live Nation (owner of Ticketmaster) have dropped about 48% since the middle of February.
With little hope to go back to normal this year, there is no doubt the concert industry is trying to find new solutions… everyone is tired of these live streaming concerts, and by now I am certain most of us have realized that nothing replaces the real experience.
If the majority of people have kept their tickets for the postponed concerts, plenty of other dates have been simply canceled,… like these three Bright Eyes dates at the Hollywood Palladium…so what are the alternatives?
According to Rolling Stone, CEO at Live Nation Michael Rapino said the company would test crowdless broadcasted shows and drive-in concerts, they would also test reduced capacity festival shows over the summer:
‘Whether it’s in Arkansas or a state that is safe, secure and politically is fine to proceed in, we’re going to dabble in fanless concerts with broadcasts, we’re going to go and do reduced capacity shows because we can make the math work, said Rapino. ‘There are a lot of great artists that can sell out an arena, but they’ll do 10 higher-end smaller theaters or clubs. We’re seeing lots of artists chomping to get back out once it’s safe.’
Does it mean that the Rolling Stones are gonna play the Echoplex again? Joke apart — although the Stones really played the Echoplex a few years ago — imagine Bruce Springsteen or any major artist playing at a small venue. It would simply be impossible to get a ticket, once again. With people deprived of live music for so long, it’s gonna be madness, and this will bring more frustration, even if this artist plays the venue for a month. And in this case, wouldn’t it be the same result than playing a large arena? Plus, if any major artist is playing at a small venue, I have no idea how social distancing would possibly be applied.
For now, they are just ‘testing’ and they will start in ‘countries that have fared better through the health crisis.’ So don’t expect to see this in your state in the near future. If it happens later, I wonder whether Live Nation would buy Los Angeles’ small venues. They have already bought Spaceland (Echo, Echoplex, the Regent) but they could potentially buy all the other independent venues if this plan works. If you have an independent mind, this could be another reason to worry.
‘You’re going to see us in different countries, whether it’s Finland, whether it’s Asia, Hong Kong — certain markets are farther ahead — we kind of look at over the summer there will be testing happening,’ Rapino said.
Then there are the drive-in concerts, another idea that Rapino wants to test, that has already been tested in some European countries. We would be back to the ‘50s-‘60s, when the popularity of drive-in theaters was at its peak, except that we would be sitting in our cars watching a band on a stage? Do you have mixed feelings about this? Probably.
‘So it’s important for us to keep doing drive-in concerts, which we’re going to test and roll out, which we’re having some success with, fanless concerts which have great broadcasting opportunities, reduced capacity festival concerts, which could be outdoors, could be in a theater, could be in a large stadium floor where there’s enough room to be safe. We have all of these plans in place depending on the market and where that local city may sit in their reopening phases,’ adds Rapino.
Personally, I am not interested in watching a crowdless concert on a screen, it would be a bit better than these live streams from Elton John’s living room, but barely… it would still be very far from a live experience. As for the drive-in concerts? I would consider it at the only condition that my car can be in the front row, with me sitting on the top? But I am probably asking too much.
Live Nation and concert businesses in general, have made a fortune with these super expensive tickets and outrageous fees and now they are trying to survive with these more or less crazy ideas. It would not be a bad thing if Ticketmaster and the other bastards of the music industry would disappear after this crisis. They are currently frustrated they don’t have their part from all these live streams! But artists should continue what they are doing right now, without Live Nation or any other intermediate.
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