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Live Nation to focus on drive-in events, livestreams ahead of 2021 restart

Live Nation has said it will not return to “full scale” concerts until 2021, with the entertainment giant focusing on alternatives, such as livestreamed shows and drive-in events.

The firm, which owns Ticketmaster, announced the strategy as it reported a 21 per cent year-on-year drop in revenue for its first quarter to $1.37bn, with ticketing down 16 per cent.

Live Nation has reported a seven-times increase in operating losses from the same period in 2019 at $172.7m due to the widespread cancellations and postponements.

Major concerts and festivals across the world have been forced to cancel due to COVID-19 with more than 50,000 Live Nation events impacted by the live events blackout.

“In mid-March, we came to a halt. We have held no concerts in almost two months,” said Live Nation president and chief executive Michael Rapino.

He added: “Despite these challenging times, we continue to have full confidence in the long-term supply and demand of the live concert industry, Live Nation’s leadership position, and our business model’s ability to successfully delivery growth and shareholder value.”

In a study by the entertainment giant, it found more than 90 per cent of fans are reportedly holding on to their tickets for rescheduled shows where refunds are available, which Rapino said is the “clearest demonstration of pent up demand that will enable us to quickly start concerts back up.”

In an investor earnings call last week, Rapino said they are now looking at ways to resume concerts at “full scale” next year.

He said: “Whether it’s in Arkansas or [another] state that is safe, secure and politically fine to proceed in, we’re going to dabble in fan-less concerts with broadcasts and reduced-capacity shows, because we can make the math work.

“We think in the fall, if there are no second hotspots, you’ll see markets around the world [reopening]… And then our goal is really to be on sale in the third and fourth quarters for 2021 at full scale.

“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 theatre, 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.”

The Q1 report comes two weeks after Ticketmaster North America was forced to furlough a quarter of its employees. Hundreds of staffers lost their salaries on May 1, though those affected have maintained their health benefits.

The furloughs followed Live Nation’s SEC filing, which indicated the entertainment giant was looking to cut $500m in costs. As part of the cost reduction measures, Rapino announced he will forgo his $3m annual salary, as well as a new $120m credit facility to protect its concert business.

Ticketmaster has also recently reported issuing refunds worth $400m from COVID-19 cancellations and postponements, with 60 per cent of the 50,000 impacted events being authorised for refunds. In addition, Live Nation has already refunded more than $80m to ticketholders.

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