New report says Australia may not see return of arena world tours until mid-2022

The Australian live music market experienced a 90 per cent drop in revenue from 2019 to 2020

A new report predicts that world tours are unlikely to return to Australia’s arenas until 2022 due to halting global travel and the country’s rules on mandatory quarantine for international travellers.

According to a new report published by PwC Australia, the Australian live and recorded music market was valued at $1.1billion in 2020 – a 39 per cent decline from its value in 2019.

In addition, the live music market – which the report claims is the “hardest hit of all (entertainment and media) sectors” by the pandemic – experienced a 90 per cent drop in revenue from 2019 to 2020, valued at just $86million last year.

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“The threat of last minute cancellations due to short-term health warnings continue to be the biggest threat to the recovery of this sector for the foreseeable future,” the report reads.

Referencing the last-minute cancellation of Bluesfest earlier this year, the report continues, “the industry will remain beholden to State governments regarding events’ ability to proceed.”

“Additionally, until international movements are more fluid and conditions regarding 14 day quarantine are modified, we are unlikely to see a return of the biggest world tours to Australia’s arenas, though confidence grows that this may be addressed from mid to late 2022.”

When noting forthcoming large-scale international tours that are set for later this year, such as Guns N’ Roses, the report claims that the likelihood of these tours actually moving ahead “rests largely on the ability for acts to quarantine safely for the prescribed period, and their ability to move between states that may have different lockdown requirements and travel restrictions at any given point in time”.

At the time of writing, parts of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia are currently in a hard lockdown, preventing live music venues from opening.

Furthermore, BIGSOUND 2021, which was set to go ahead in Brisbane this September, was cancelled yesterday due to uncertainty around borders and lockdowns.

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The report does note that despite the constant challenges the live music market faces, it has already shown signs of bouncing back.

“Recovery… is already being boosted by the local and global trials for socially-distanced shows which occurred in the later part of 2020 featuring local line-ups,” the report reads.

“Moreover, with the threat of COVID-19 reducing as rates of local infection remain relatively low and the roll out of vaccines continues, the confidence in a return to a greater slate of live music, closer to pre-COVID levels remains positive, albeit the timing is still somewhat uncertain.”

Critics have cited the government’s vaccination rollout as a reason why the live music industry continues to struggle.

Peking Duk recently released a lengthy social media statement slamming the federal government, writing “Should we postpone our shows to the end of the year?Should we postpone them to next year? Will things even return to normal next year with this snail-paced vaccine roll out and ever evolving strains of the virus[?]”

After Hockey Dad were forced to end a Brisbane show prematurely due to newly announced lockdown orders in their home state of NSW, they released a statement calling out the “ever changing goal posts” put in place for the live music industry.

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