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NEAR TRUTHS: THE SHOW MUST (AND WILL) GO ON

 

2020 proved that even in the most adverse circumstances, the music business can accomplish the extraordinary. But we can’t ignore the devastation experienced by people in the live business. The shutdown has had a cataclysmic effect on artists, managers, agencies, bookers, roadies, venue staff and on and on down the chain. Though multiple efforts were launched to help those hardest hit, it will take a long time to recover. Once the vaccine has been widely distributed and venues begin reopening nationwide, there’s little doubt that music fans will fill those seats and be roaring with joy.

Even so, we cannot deny that—despite big advances in livestreaming technology and some inventive virtual forays (Dua Lipa’s big recent show representing the state of the art)—nothing can replace live performance. We are not the same without it, either professionally or spiritually. But it will return, and when it does it will be the final link in a chain that has become stronger, surer and larger in its absence.

It should also be pointed out that the prime movers in the live space, such as Michael Rapino and Jay Marciano, moved with alacrity to reallocate resources, make structural adjustments and, where possible, cushion the blow to their workforces.

Reflecting the optimism inspired by a vaccinated, de-Trumpified future, Rapino, Marciano, Rob Light, Coran Capshaw, Irving and Jeffrey, Jay Brown, Cliff and Peter, Arthur Fogel, Bob Roux, Louis Messina, Scooter, Marty Diamond, J.D. and Bob and the other leading lights of the live sector are gearing up for summertime across Europe and North America, while leaning into outdoor shows, festivals and sheds. In fact, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to book dates now, given the backlog of requests. Everyone—from agents to bookers to managers to artists—has agreed to new terms that include smaller guarantees, but this consensual industrywide haircut has in no way diminished the excitement across the board as the concert machine gears up for a mighty comeback. Meanwhile, Live Nation stock continues to surge.

Speaking of Irving, he’s enjoying a new career peak even as he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, telling the L.A. Times he had no intention of retiring.

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