Report: Concert Promoters “Are Giving Up on 2020”
Are you still holding out hope that concerts will return at some point this year, proving all the health experts wrong?
Sorry, bud… not happening. While certain types of businesses have begun opening in fits and starts in different parts of the country — hair salons, restaurants, beaches, book stores — the social distancing regulations put in place make hosting most concerts not only unwieldy but unprofitable. What’s more, the specter of putting together a patchwork tour taking into account different regulations in each city — and having to do so far in advance, during which time regulations could change — is all but impossible.
A new report in The New York Times quotes higher-ups at a number of different live events companies as saying they’ve all but given up on 2020, instead looking towards winter 2021 and beyond as targets to start opening up their businesses again:
“The country’s biggest stages have yet to declare their plans, but they are rapidly reaching a consensus on a go-slow approach, even if they receive government permission to reopen. At their scale, it is even more difficult to protect patrons when seats are tightly packed and there are choke points at entrances, lobbies, aisles, concession stands and restrooms. Backstage quarters are typically cramped, and productions often involve intimate onstage action and aerosolized respiratory droplets.”
Live Nation president Joe Berchtold said the country’s largest concert promotion company is waiting for word on a vaccine and an expansion of testing capabilities to decide what to do, offering a play-it-by-ear plan instead of any kind of timeline:
“While we think that phenomenal strides are being made in both cases, given the lead time involved in planning major concert tours, and the uncertainties that exist today, we don’t expect a large volume of major tours in the fall.”
Jay Marciano, the chairman of AEG Presents, the second biggest concert promotion company in the U.S. after Live Nation, was a bit less vague, admitting, “It doesn’t seem likely we are going to open in the fall.”
Paul Tollett, the promoter behind Coachella, declined to comment about the plans for the festival, which was rescheduled from April to October. The rescheduled dates now seem very much in doubt.
Rick Roskin, an agent at the Creative Artists Agency, offered little optimism, echoing what his counterparts in the metal industry have said previously: “For the artists we represent, we believe it’s safer to move to 2021.”
The report also features quotes from organizers in theater, dance, classical and other performing arts, all of whom are eyeing winter 2021 as the earliest possible return. Mary McColl, the executive director of Actors’ Equity Association, echoed all of our collective concerns about opening too early:
“If we go back to work too soon, and a theater anywhere becomes a hot spot, that is going to set the whole industry back. Who knows what miracle might come down the pike, but certainly I don’t think there’s going to be large theater here in New York City soon,” she said. “And it seems more likely next calendar year.”
Read the full report right here.
When concerts do finally return, expect them to be much different than you remember them, with all sorts of new ordinances in place to protect fans, performers and venue staff. Definitely do not expect moshing or crowd-surfing.