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Will concerts come back in 2021?

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Takeaways from industry chat about the return of live music

Few days ago, there was a discussion titled « Inching Closer to the return of live music ? » on Clubhouse that featured prominent players from the live industry including AEG, CAA, ICM, UTA and others. There was a lot to take in and really great discussion on expectations on live music coming back. Since there’s interest in these kind of updates and insights, I included some of the most notable takeaways below…

Room was initially split on date of return. At first some said touring won’t really kick off until we can get to 100% capacity and wasn’t expecting that untill 2022. Then some of the bigger players spoke up and said they were very confident in 100% capacity by September. They’re expecting the outlook to greatly improve by April/May which is when they’re hopeful to start getting back into the swing of things.

Many artists will go back to 6-10 weeks from sale to event once restrictions are lifted instead of a year in advance. Not everybody will be able to get back on the road that quickly but some have little overhead to deal with and can get back sooner than others. That’s also why some bigger artists like the weeknd and Billie Eilish postponed to 2022 instead since their tourin gis much more complicated and can’t run things around as quickly. Some also don’t want to bother until 100% capacity since it’s financially not worth it for some.

Sounds like some festivals like coachella may wait until 2022 because bigger artists may not be ready and it usually takes 4-6 months minimum to set a festival up (longer for the bigger one).

Alternate venues will be able to book more shows due to the rush of artists trying to get onto the road. Your outdoor venues that only do shows once in a while may become very busy.

They will have to be careful with ticket pricing. They can’t underestimate the economic impact put onto fans and shows will have a lot more competition with a lot more shows going on than normal. Venue and production fees are expected to go up too and they want to really try hard to not push off those costs on the artists or the fans that need to be shared by everyone.

International touring might be impacted for a while longer. They don’t want to do what they called “Swiss cheese touring”, as in not every country being open in Europe yet. They don’t want to plan a 20-date tour then end up only able to do 15 of those shows due to travel restrictions or shutdowns.

Live streams are here to stay but will be more of a supplement than a main feature. VIP offers might be reduced and some artists will opt to completely drop them at the onset of return. They’ve made a lot of money in the past from those but are afraid they won’t see returns on those kind of sale for a while.

All in all, artists are extremely eager to get back on the road, not just for money but just for the sake of being able to perform in front of an audience again. Some artists may even strip down their shows a bit when they return.

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