Live Nation Is Planning for Crowdless Shows and Drive-In Concerts

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With concerts on hold for the past two months due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Live Nation Entertainment on Thursday reported a 21% drop in revenue for its first quarter, with concert revenue alone dipping 25% and ticket revenue dropping 16% year over year. Shares of Live Nation — which also owns ticketing company Ticketmaster — have dropped about 48% since the middle of February.

While the concert giant fell into controversy recently over its refund policy amid the pandemic, later instituting a Ticket Relief Plan to allow fans to get refunds if a rescheduled show hasn’t gotten a new date within 60 days of its postponing, Live Nation says that 90% of ticket buyers are choosing to keep their tickets and wait for a new show rather than get their money back.

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On Live Nation’s investor earnings call, President and CEO Michael Rapino said the company would test crowdless broadcasted shows along with drive-in concerts and 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,” Rapino said. “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.”

Rapino also said the potential testing could happen in other countries that have fared better through the health crisis. Any such testing, Rapino said, would happen when it’s safe and reopening phases start to commence.

“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.

He added: “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.”

Live Nation had previously announced a series of cost-cutting measures to soften the blow that included CEO Michael Rapino forgoing the remainder of his $3 million salary, with other executives taking up to 50% salary reductions. The company also introduced furloughs and hiring freezes and opened up a $120 million revolving credit loan. The company is now targeting $600 million in cost cutting measures for 2020, it said on Thursday’s earnings call.

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