A few days ago I came across the Pollstar ‘The Show Must Go On – Live Entertainment Town Hall” Live Stream. I was intrigued by what some of the live music events industry professionals had to say about the pandemic. Being in the events industry I was eager to absorb all two hours of the broadcast. As that’s a big chunk of time for most people I broke it down into a short summary. I also included a list of panelists and a timecode of the broadcast for you all to check out at the bottom as well.
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Pollstar Live Stream Timecode Cheat Sheet
- 0:00 – Skip to Start time
- 5:40 – When did this start affecting you?
- 15:30 – What are event safety concerns coming back:
- 21:35 – Overseas: what does it look like to go back to work
- 25:18 – More on safety, from Michael Downing
- 31:08 – If touring starts again what difficulties could that present to overall safety / is it going to be a thing? Spot Touring.
- 43:46 – Are artists going to do touring, pay per view, residencies, etc?
- 54:58 – What are your concerns when you hit the road day 1?
- 1:01:43- Residencies vs. touring
- 1:04:32 – Insurance
- 1:06:16 – Is there an appetite to get on our tour bus
- 1:10:30 – Is GA seating going to be something of the past? What about the meet and greets/merch
- 1:15:34 – Upscaling / increasing trade skills
- 1:18:58 – General population questions
- 1:37:30 – Closing Remarks
Pollstar Live Stream Panelists
- Patrick Whalen (Moderator) – Backstage Productions
- Lori DeLancey – Stage Coach Unlimited
- David Norman (5-1) – Tour Account
- Alex Hodges – Nederlander Concerts
- Jake Berry – Jake Berry Productions
- Doug Rountree – Pioneer Coach
- Stuart Ross – Red Light Management
- Misty Roberts – Tour Manager
- Michael Downing – Prevent Advisors
- Jim Digby – Event Saftey Alliance
- Tim Roberts – Event Saftey Shop
- Adam Kornfeld – Artist Group International Agent
- Antony Bonavita – EVP Venue Operations at the Cleveland Cavilers and Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse
- Dayna Frank – First Ave
- Steve Adelman – Event Safety Alliance, Entertainment Lawyer
- Ray Waddell – Pollstar, President of Media & Conference for Oak View Group
Pollstar Live Stream Summary
What do we know?
Large scale events are still on pause for the immediate future. All of the Pollstar Live Stream panelists agree that it is very unlikely that we will see any of these events for several months. Given the current conditions and state of the virus, there is no real timeline on when these events will occur. They also agree that it is going to be a much different landscape than it was before March 1st.
Many of the panelists are working on contingency plans for when events do return. Jim Digby, Steven Adelman, and the Event Saftey Alliance are working on guidelines for live events when they do return. The target drop date for that guidance is set for Monday, May 11th.
Consumer confidence is key to the success of the return to live events. Even with lifted regulations and restrictions, organizers are going to have to find a way to put safety measures into place that will raise consumer confidence.
What do we think we know?
Jake Berry, Alex Hodges, Doug Rountree, and others noted that they have continued to plan for events that are slated for later this fall. With the current modeling, we think that we will be able to have some larger-scale events later in the year.
David Norman, Lori DeLancey, and Misty Roberts talked about the possibility of seeing more residencies. They recognized it might make more sense to stay in one location for many nights than many locations for one night.
With some states opening rather soon, some of the panelists believe that we will have an opportunity to have smaller shows in states that aren’t as affected. Alex Hodges believes that some of the smaller venues will have more flexibility to make accommodations to host shows within safe boundaries. However, other panelists like Adam Kornfeld, don’t agree that we will even be able to have small scale live shows stating that if contagion can be traced back to any live event, it will set the entire industry back even further.
What don’t we know?
Well, a lot. Throughout the broadcast, there were some common questions that none of the panelists really had answers for. First and foremost, what will live events look like when they do come back? All of the panelists agree that events will be different.
Misty Roberts and Doug Rountree talked about what the touring situation would look like. How can you safely transport bands and crew members on large tours safely? Jake Berry talked about what the production might look like and how that will affect the economics of the show. If everything is going to be reduced, what will production look like? What will artist fees look like? What about ticket prices? It is tough for anyone to really know what events will look like in the future. As Adam Kornfeld said, “the truth is, that we are talking about moving into the house, but the house is still on fire…a lot of this (ideas about ticket prices, small shows, etc.) seems premature.”
What does the future of the consumer experience look like?
From the Pollstar Live Stream panel, it sounds like the consumer experience could be drastically different from how it was before March 1st. Michael Downing cited the Saftey Act (post 9/11 response from the Department of Homeland Security) as an example of how lawmakers might respond to the pandemic. In his list of changes that we might see he included: low-touch/no-touch environments, branded masks, thermal temperature screening, facial recognition tickets, ticketless entry, no bag policies, and no-touch payment platforms. Later in the stream, he stated that he was working with some of the sporting leagues to come up with strategies to change seating in arenas. He used the example of courtside seats at basketball arenas as an example of an arrangement that was likely to change.
Patrick Whalen also posed the question of what is the likely future of GA seating? Will it be a thing of the past? Dayna Frank hopes not. She believes that the GA experience is a quintessential experience for live entertainment and concert-goers. But, she also said she doesn’t know what GA will look like in the future. It is likely that GA club owners might have to wait longer to hold events until an immunization is ready or we reach herd immunity just because of the style of the close interaction experience.
What is the silver lining to all of this according to the live stream panelists?
While each of the panelists described how this is an incredibly difficult time for the industry, they did all agree that there is a silver lining to all of this. They acknowledge that some aspects of live events will change for the better for the safety of the participants, crews, and artists. Tim Roberts hopes that the crew members that are cleaning the venues will start to get more recognition for their efforts. Misty Roberts stated that she has used this time to take some of the free courses offered by Harvard and Yale. She urges all event industry professionals to use this time to become more valuable and to sharpen your skill sets.
As for the overall silver lining, Antony Bonavita put it best, “I have collaborated and talked with more of you over the last month than I ever have in 25 years I have been in the business. We are all in this together trying to figure this out.”
As an avid concert, sporting, and live event participant, I found this live stream to be very informative. As an event industry professional, it is comforting to know that professionals from all over the live event industry space are collaborating on how to best proceed forward. We will get through this together and it will be for the better.
Need a break from your normal work from home routine? Check out Jacob’s Work From Home Playlist here.