Predictions For The Live Music Industry: Will Venues Reopen This Year?

According to Rolling Stone, on January 9th at a conference for the Association of Performing Arts Professionals, Dr. Anthony Fauci hypothesized that venues and theaters would be able to reopen sometime during the Fall of 2021. This is good news for many of us who are eager to get back into venues to see our favorite artists but we can’t help but think, will live performances ever be the same with a pandemic in our wake?

Lots depends on this predicted reopening schedule Fauci said. Vaccination rollout efficiency, getting at least 70% of the US population vaccinated, and reaching herd immunity play key factors in getting venues open before the end of the year. This means that reopening this Fall is not guaranteed but certainly plausible. Fauci went on to say that he believes that even if the US reaches the ideal percentage of citizens vaccinated and herd immunity, venues will likely have to take precautions while hosting events. These precautions would include capacity cuts, mask mandates, and venue owners being conscious of air flow and filtration within their spaces. Precautions like these would only be temporary and ease up as the pandemic clears and becomes a thing of the past but they would have an impact on concert-going experiences in the short term.

Combine capacity cuts and a hoard of folks that have been stuck inside for over a year itching to get out of the house, we could expect a high demand for a low supply of tickets ultimately driving ticket prices up. Most venues have also been laying dormant and losing money for the past year so they’ll need to find ways to create extra revenue, maybe leading to increased food and drink prices or other fees for attendees. Considering venues typically split a percentage of ticket sales with an artist on show night, live shows might not be as lucrative for artists as they once were as venues struggle to make a significant profit in their early re-opening stages. Venues may want to keep a higher cut of sales as a result or maybe try to book talent for cheaper prices. This could give artist who tour and preform for a living a new financial obstacle to travers. Also, some artists just might not feel comfortable enough to put on a live show limiting available artists. Mix limited artist availability with limited venue capacity and you can expect less shows worth the extra coin. These are all short term possibilities but lets take a look at some of the long term effects on the live performance industry.

With almost a year of streaming being the most dominate form of live performance, many artists have had time to master the art of live streaming. That being said, we might see some kind of integration of live streaming into live performance. Artists can get creative with how they integrate live streaming into their shows but an obvious way is to offer and launch a paid live stream of their live performances. This would greatly expand the number of potential audience members as well as be another means of revenue for artists. This method would help increase artist revenue in the short term but could also find it’s way of becoming part of the new norm for concert culture where fans can regularly tune in to concerts around the world for a fee.

Fauci’s prediction is for venues to open mid-late Fall of this year and by then it’ll be too cold to have many outdoor shows. With most shows having to end up inside and folks still feeling the trauma of the pandemic we might not see a large physical audience turn out right away, only further pushing the need for more live streaming integration. However, when Spring and Summer of 2022 rolls around, and given everything is going well, we might expect to see a boom in outdoor performances. This could be big for outdoor music festivals who haven’t been able to operate in over a year by that point. Generally, outdoor events are safer than indoor events when it comes to spreading viruses so these outdoor events can give artists and fans a few moments to enjoy a show.

Though the crowds might be smaller and the opportunity to see a show might be scarce at first, there’s no doubt that normal concert life will return. It is unclear when it may return but it is coming. The road to normalcy will definitely bumpy for aspects of life. There will be lots of learning curves for everyone including venue owners, artists, and concert goers. Difficult times in the live performance industry will only make it stronger and more innovative however and soon, we will remember why we love watching live music so much.

Here’s Tame Impala’s NPR Tiny Desk From Home live stream to hold you over until venues re-open: 

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