BTS, Justin Bieber, and The Rolling Stones; what do all these artists have in common? All have been forced to cancel or postpone their scheduled concerts or tours. These are just a few examples of the numerous concerts, festivals, and other large gatherings that have been forced to reschedule due to the pandemic and it’s sending shockwaves throughout the global music industry and more specifically, the music events industry.
In 2020, revenue from music events was over $19 billion with almost 275 million users. Now as we approach the end of 2020, revenue from this industry fell to just $7.75 billion. Musicians are the ones who have been impacted the most by this change. With the rise in popularity of streaming services, touring is the primary way artists are making money. Of the five highest-paid touring artists, over 80% of their revenue comes from live concerts. With this unprecedented change, artists have been forced to quickly adapt.
Artists have recently been experimenting with live-streaming performances. Popular Korean-pop band, BTS, performed for a virtual audience on October 10th to an audience of 750,000, earning the group around $20 million. American rapper, Travis Scott, held a virtual concert on the popular videogame “Fortnight” where he reached an audience of over 27 million people. Live-streamed performance does not capture the same energy as a true concert but clearly, there is still a demand for concerts.
Despite many restrictions, festivals have still found ways to hold live events per governments’ social distancing guidelines. The Gisburne Park Pop-Up festival held in July in the UK gave festival promoters a unique insight into how festivals could be held during the pandemic. The festival only allowed 480 guest and each group of guests were required to purchase a “pitch” and those pitches were placed 6 feet away from other pitches. Except for using the restroom, guests were not allowed to leave the pitch.
However, there are still safety concerns about spectators attending sporting events and fans returning to concerts. A recent poll shows fewer than half of all Americans say feel comfortable returning to sporting events or concerts before a proven COVID vaccine is available. So while some live events are still being held, the majority simply will not be able to hold limited capacity events and still turn a profit. So until there is a proven COVID vaccine, it seems that artists and fans alike will have to keep waiting to return to their favorite venues.