Live Nation Exec Sees Concerts Returning Summer 2021
Recent progress with Covid-19 vaccines has given government officials, medical professionals, Wall Street investors and ordinary people alike confidence that life will return to “normal” — whatever the new normal is — sooner than had initially been anticipated. There is a lot of work still to be done — and it’s going to be quite a while before the vaccine is distributed to healthy, young adults, who are last in line but comprise a large swath of the concert-going public — but that hasn’t stopped Live Nation president Joe Berchtold from his bullish prediction that live events will be back by next summer.
Back in August, Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino predicted that live events will “return at scale in the summer of 2021,” and now his company’s president has doubled down on that assertion. Speaking with CNBC’s Squawk Alley earlier this week, Berchtold
“We start to see with much greater clarity what the path to return to live is, and certainly a lot of confidence about that return to live. In the key U.S./Western European markets, it continues to be our expectation that by next summer, we’re back with our major outdoor shows — our amphitheaters here in the U.S., festivals globally. We’ll be able to do those shows.”
A few things to note here: 1) he specified “key markets,” the implication being that this will not be the case everywhere, 2) “major outdoor shows” indicates he thinks indoor club and theater shows may not be back just yet by next summer, 3) Berchtold has financial incentive to express optimism publicly, 4) he ultimately he admits he’s just guessing, as no one knows how this all will play out.
Consumer confidence will naturally be a factor, too. Even if you’ve been vaccinated, with a 95% efficacy rate, would you feel confident standing shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of fans in a packed venue? That’s a big mental step to take, and while some folks will have no problem jumping back in, undoubtedly many will hesitate.
Earlier this fall, a report surfaced indicating that Ticketmaster, which is owned by Live Nation, is looking into plans that would utilize its mobile app to screen entrants for records of a Covid-19 vaccine or recent negative test before allowing entry. In a subsequent clarification, Ticketmaster said it would be up to the individual promoters and venues to decide whether to use such a system.
In the early days of the pandemic back in April, bioethicist Zeke Emanuel, who is vice provost for global initiatives and director of the Healthcare Transformation Institute at the University of Pennsylvania, told The New York Times, “realistically we’re talking fall 2021 at the earliest” for a return to large-scale public gatherings. Many pundits continue to argue that vaccine distribution will not yet be widespread enough by summer to allow live events to return.