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LIVE NATION'S Q3: FEW SHOWS, PLENTY OF WORK

Artists looking to plan a tour in 2021 are being advised to bypass the summer and look to the fall. But don’t make any firm—or financial—commitments just yet.

“Let’s make those decisions in January or February,” Live Nation Entertainment President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Rapino said on a conference call with analysts Thursday afternoon.

Live Nation’s Q3 earnings call was filled with talk of financial stability, tech improvements and the ongoing thirst for live events to return; company brass continues to take pride in only 17% of refunds being requested for shows that have been moved to 2021.

The company continues to cut operating expenses, and as of 9/30, Live Nation’s total cash and cash equivalents were $2.6b, which includes $951m in free cash and $614m in ticketing client cash.

In its new SEC filing, Live Nation estimates that it lost $3.7b in the quarter due to the COVID-19 pandemic and $7b in the first nine months of 2020. More than 5,000 concerts were canceled from mid-March to 9/30; another 6,000 shows, representing 22m tickets, have been rescheduled for 2021.

In the three months that are traditionally the busiest quarter of the year, Live Nation staged a mere 226 events in North America and 141 internationally.

The downtime, Rapino said, has been used to develop more efficient business practices and ticketing operations. He added that upgrades expected to take three years have been completed in three months.

During the shutdown, the company also has been developing a set of standards for executing shows at LN venues, collaborating with health experts to create show guidelines and procedures.

“We are setting standards that will give fans, crews and artists peace of mind before, during and after the show,” Rapino said. “As we look ahead, it is clear that the path to live will not be a straight line. As such, we will maintain flexibility and focus on innovating during this time.”

Rapino reported that festival on-sales for next year have been strong, with EDC Las Vegas 2021 selling out in less than 24 hours at a higher capacity than last year; the Reading, Creamfields and Isle of Wight festivals in the U.K. are pacing ahead of last year at this time.

“And we are encouraged by the enthusiasm for the recent events and gatherings that have started to take place, including our first sold-out arena tour with 20,000 fans in New Zealand, where business is headed back to normal,” he said.

All the numbers can be found here.

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