Live Nation are preparing to test a series of crowdless gigs and drive-in concerts in an effort to create safe opportunities for live music to return amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Concerts and festivals around the world have been cancelled or postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak this year, including Glastonbury’s 50th-anniversary edition, Rage Against The Machine’s reunion tour and My Chemical Romance’s first UK dates since getting back together.
In a recent investor earnings call, Live Nation President and CEO Michael Rapino revealed the promoter and ticketing agency are working on ways to bring live music back in some form this summer. Those plans include shows held without an audience broadcast to fans at home, drive-in concerts and festivals with reduced capacities.
“Whether it’s in Arkansas or a state that is safe, secure and politically is fine to proceed in, we’re going to dabble in fanless concerts with broadcasts, we’re going to go and do reduced capacity shows because we can make the math work,” Rapino said, according to Rolling Stone. “There are a lot of great artists that can sell out an arena, but they’ll do 10 higher-end smaller theatres or clubs. We’re seeing lots of artists chomping to get back out once it’s safe.”
Rapino added that testing wouldn’t necessarily be held in the US but could take place in countries that haven’t been hit as hard by the coronavirus crisis. The test runs would also only happen once reopening of cities and states had started and it had been deemed safe by authorities.
“It’s important for us to keep doing drive-in concerts, which we’re going to test and roll out, which we’re having some success with, fanless concerts which have great broadcasting opportunities, reduced capacity festival concerts, which could be outdoors, could be in a theatre, could be in a large stadium floor where there’s enough room to be safe,” he said. “We have all of these plans in place depending on the market and where that local city may sit in their reopening phases.”
Drive-in and socially distanced concerts have already been held in Denmark, Sweden and Germany, with a club in the latter country recently holding a drive-in rave.
A number of UK festival organisers spoke to NME recently about the prospect of holding socially distanced versions of their events. Isle Of Wight’s John Giddings called the idea “ludicrous”, adding: “Once you give someone a couple of drinks, they’ll start having the best time with all these people. With social distancing you can only fit 15 people on a double-decker bus, how is that economically viable? It’s the same for festivals.”