Live Nation President anticipates return of concerts by summer 2021
Vaccinations against COVID officially began in the UK on Tuesday (12/8), and the US likely won't be far behind; President Elect Joe Biden has vowed to distribute 100 million doses during his first 100 days in office. More people being inoculated is promising news for the live music industry, which, after being the first to close down, will be among the last to reopen from coronavirus lockdown. Live Nation president Joe Berchtold was optimistic about prospects for 2021 in a recent appearance on CNBC's Squawk Alley, as Live for Live Music reports. He said that he expects major concerts, amphitheater shows included, to be back by Summer 2021, with no socially distancing necessary.
"We feel very good right now," Berchtold said. "At this point, given the vaccine news, we start to see with much greater clarity what the path to return to live is, and certainly a lot of confidence about that return to live. At this point, on a global basis, we’re already starting to see in Asia some shows coming back, New Zealand operating at full capacity, other Asian markets that have made more progress are getting back more quickly."
"In the key U.S./Western European markets, it continues to be our expectation that by next summer, we’re back with our major outdoor shows—our amphitheaters here in the U.S., festivals globally," he continued. "We’ll be able to do those shows."
Asked about what safety protocols he expects to be in place when shows return, Berchtold said, "It’s our expectation in general that we’ll be able to get back to have full-capacity shows, that we won’t need social distancing—certainly outdoors—by next summer. We’ve got a number of protocols we’ll take with all of our venues in terms of how it is we make sure we’re sanitizing and creating a safe environment for our artists, our employees, and our fans."
“We think that by that point," Berchtold continued, "we’ll have enough distribution of vaccine, the expectation that it will be readily available for everybody. And we’ll work with all the local public health authorities. Again, on a global basis, there will be different rules in different markets, and whatever it is that’s required, but in general, we think we’ll be able to get back to full capacity and people enjoying the shows."
As for talk of a controversial system Ticketmaster is developing that would verify attendees' vaccination status before allowing them entrance to concerts, Berchtold said, "We can’t predict what every local market health official rules are going to be, and we’ll work and we’ll follow those rules where they exist, and if we need to do something, we will, but in general, it’s our expectation that by that point that won’t be necessary just given the great progress that we’ve had on the vaccine, with more hopefully in the wings continuing to come and accelerate even where we’re at today."
Watch the interview in full below.