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The Economics Behind Concerts in 2021

concert, music venue
melis82 on Deposit Photos

With 40% of Americans fully vaccinated and 49.9% with one dose, more states are reopening. They’re lifting mask mandates and occupancy limits on restaurants, bars and organized events. This means the return of a beloved form of entertainment: Live concerts are back in 2021. Many legendary venues were forced to close, but a select few survived. Here’s what reopening looks like.

Pandemic effects on the live entertainment industry

Concert cancellations started in March 2020 due to the pandemic. According to the Chicago Tribune, the concert industry lost over $30 billion last year. Consequently, many venues have financially struggled with rent, utility bills and payroll. Audrey Fix Schaefer, Head of Communications at the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), thinks 95% of workers at independent music sites were let go or furloughed because of the pandemic. And over 300 venues permanently closed such as Threadgill’s in Austin, TX.

Musicians and bands have lost money, too. The L.A. Philharmonic, an orchestra based in Los Angeles, lost $105 million due to closures at the Hollywood Bowl, the John Anson Ford Theatre and Walt Disney Concert Hall. In response to the detrimental losses nationwide, NIVA took action.

How did NIVA help?

NIVA, formed in 2020, is “a group of over 3,000 independent venues in 50 states and Washington D.C. that are banding together to ask Washington for targeted legislation to help us survive.” NIVA led the #SaveOurStages (SOS) Act, allowing closed venues to seek $15 billion in grants. And they fundraised $3 million in emergency grants to distribute to more than 150 venues.

Stages in the organization include Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN; Troubadour in Los Angeles, CA; and First Avenue in Minneapolis, MN. Chris Bauman, Founder and President of Zenith Music Group, said to USA Today, “SOS saved an entire industry.”

Will ticket prices go up?

According to Boston Magazine, the resale market for tickets most likely will be very expensive. Riley Cash, a Denver resident, told CNBC he believed $91 was an unusually high price to see the band Lotus at the Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre.

However, Brian Kitts, a spokesman at Red Rocks, argues that ticket prices have not gone up. On the other side of the country, Michael Dorf, CEO and Chairman of City Winery New York City, the largest winery in NYC, tells CNBC that at his establishment, ticket prices depend on how much the artist is paid

Does reopening look the same nationwide?

Reopening looks different in each state. For example, the Hollywood Bowl will reopen on May 15. California does not reopen businesses and venues at full capacity until June 15, so the concerts can only have 25% capacity with six feet distance between each patron. Contrarily, in Washington D.C., mask and social distancing requirements were lifted (in most indoor and outdoor settings) on May 21. Showtime Lounge, a popular bar in the district, will still take names for contact tracing and encourage unvaccinated customers to wear masks. They also want to start bringing back bands and DJs.

It’s important to remember as state governments lift more restrictions, private businesses can still require specific COVID protocols. Mark Dycio, a D.C. area attorney, said, “While a restaurant or music venue can’t refuse service based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin, those restrictions don’t apply to businesses enforcing their own COVID protocols.”

Unsure of your state’s mask mandates? Click here to learn more about it. And check out our list below of popular festivals and concerts for 2021 and 2022.

Festivals and concerts in 2021

Musicians

Festivals

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