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Major Concert Promoters Reveal Plans And Changes For The Future of Live Shows

A new article in the Wall Street Journal (behind a paywall) outlines what big-time concert promoters and agents are doing to open the live event business back up, and what fans can expect when concerts do restart. A bunch of big time promoters and agents are quoted with what the ideas and working plans for the immediate future are. “The way 9/11 changed our industry in terms of security… this will [lead to] best practices that our touring industry is compelled to employ forever,” the COO of the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Dave Brown, told WSJ.

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One promoter is quoted in the article as saying “2020 is gone—so is half of 2021.” The president of Live Nation is quoted as saying “The hope is that we will have a big summer season in 2021.” So what can fans expect once shows reopen?

For now, shows will look like the first socially distanced concert that happened early this week. The hope is to undersell large venues, for social distancing. One agent at CAA floated the idea of an artist performing multiple times in a day, instead of one big show, with open-air venues likely to be the first to open. Since it will be hard for artists to tour based on some states still being in quarantine while others open up, there is a possibility of long term residencies at a certain venue being thrown around.

As for ticket prices, there is a belief that due to the possible recession and fans' hesitance to attend shows, ticket prices will need to be lowered. The comparison was made to the 2008 recession in the U.S. where ticket prices were lowered 5% – 8%. There is a argument where larger acts who will need to book more intimate venues, can end up charging more for the unique experience. Although, it's hard to say what fans will go for until they try.

There will be a heavy focus on sanitation and health checks. There will be tempruature checks upon entry. Face masks and testing stations will become the norm of the concert experience for a while. Hand-sanitizer stations will be everywhere, with American Airlines Center COO Dave Brown noting “You’ll be tripping over them.”

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One part of the concert experience that is likely to not come back for a while is the meet and greet experience. While it was crucial to most bands' bottom line, the current climate is not the right time for some folks to be shaking hands and in close proximity. “I don’t think you’re going to see meet-and-greets for a long time,” says AEG’s Rick Mueller.

The other big change is how artists are paid. The days of guarantees for artists look to be on hold. Instead of upfront payments, more artists are taking a split of the box-office, adding a lot of risk to touring, with one agent noting that it is going to be a "multi-year process" to get the health of the industry back.

Read the full article here.

A lot of the content mentioned in the article was also in the official concert reopening guidelines released recently.

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