The Plan to Save Live Entertainment
RESCUE MEET Virtual Conference May 19th, 2020
There are times in life where you have to make a hard choice. There are times in life when the hard choice is forced upon you. There are times in life where everything which defined your life evaporates in an instant. There are times when you hold the power to make changes but you have to reach deep into yourself beyond fear and complacency to revisit every assumption you ever made and redirect your efforts to the future as it is, not as it was.
Adversity does not define your character. Adversity reveals it.
In the past week the vise has been tightened on everybody’s head. Festivals are canceling, concerts are being postponed into 2021, sporting events are planning to play for TV only. The entire live entertainment industry is beginning to understand they are going to refund most of the money they’ve taken in for events after March 19th, 2020 through the end of the year. And, they’re not really going to be able to generate much, if any, revenue until Q4 when tickets for 2021 might go on sale.
Major League Baseball has just conceded what was obvious, the full season isn’t going to be played and is the process of figuring out ticket refunds. Live Nation and AEG are opening their refund windows and demonstrating how refunds should be handled. StubHub is still holding the line against refunds but consumer and regulatory pressure is building.
So, this year is all about refunds and zero revenue. Who lives to play another day and what will that day look like when it arrives?
I’m a guy who loves live events. Last year I was at 11 music festivals and 75 other events ranging from arena shows and conferences to small clubs and theater. So, I’ve watched with horror as theaters across the world have locked their doors and turned off both the lights and the power. And then I had the following epiphany: “Oh, hell no! Not on my watch.”
Today, I’m stepping out from behind the keyboard to help guide the Live Entertainment industry back onto the stages of the world. I’ve created https://www.RescueMeet.com to organize a coalition of top entertainment experts and companies and plan how to restart sporting events, concerts and theater. We will hold a virtual conference on May 19th, 2020 to raise the curtain on raising the curtains. I’m expecting some interesting participants from the highest level executives to the most connected agents and promoters. Michael Rapino has already confirmed C-suite participants from both Live Nation and Ticketmaster will attend. If they have time so do you.
You can hide ‘neath your covers
And study your pain
Make crosses from your lovers
Throw roses in the rain
Waste your summer praying in vain
For a savior to rise from the streets
Well now I’m no hero
All the redemption I can offer girl
Is beneath this dirty hood
With a chance to make it good somehow
Hey what else can we do now?
Thunder Road — Bruce Springsteen
What’s the plan? We have a clean sheet of paper to define what Live Events look like in a post Coronavirus environment. We collectively get to decide what changes are needed to how events are scheduled, ticketed, priced and sold. If Ford and GM can shut down auto manufacturing to make ventilators while Apple helps source medical PPE from their supply chain then all of us can “think different.” The questions are obvious the answers will take a little time.
a. can we protect the audience and the performers from human spread of disease in
b. do we recapitalize an industry which is refunding its receipts from 2020 and won’t
have meaningful revenue before 2021?
c. slowly should we bring live events back onto stages?
d. do we reschedule a year’s worth of postponed events without creating tour routing
maps which look like they were drawn on a Spirograph?
e. do we get the staff back to man the venues, drive the trucks and rig the stages?
f. should we price tickets given consumer reluctance to attend events and the
economic distress resulting from a total shutdown of the United States and 30+
g. could we improve the customer experience from buying tickets on primary or
secondary markets through developing customer retention programs?
Everyone has to play their part. Everything you once knew is gone. We have the rare opportunity redesign the way our industry works and works together. Leave old ideas, grudges and turf wars in the car. Let’s get to work:
When you hear this sound a-comin’ Hear the drummer drumming Won’t you join together with the band
We don’t move in any ‘ticular direction And we don’t make no collections Won’t you join together with the band
Do you really think I care What you eat or what you wear Won’t you join together with the band
There’s a million ways to laugh Ev’ry one’s a path Come on and join together with the band
The Who — Join Together
I’ve had the good fortune to interact with many of you either directly, at conferences, during group chats or through stories such as this one. I want you all to know that I believe in you, and I believe in this business. As my part of trying to help rebuild, I’ll be answering reasonable questions. That’s my way of contributing to solving this crisis. Just email, my address is below.
I’ll do my best to either answer you directly, or if I see certain questions repeat frequently I’ll post another article which goes over them all. I will not identify publicly the source of any question.
Let me know what you think.
I’m a consultant advising leading companies in the live event space. If you are an investor, artist, promoter, team, producer, venue operator, primary or secondary market of ticketed events or have comments on this article, please don’t hesitate to contact me:
Copyrighted 2020 by Eric Fuller