Live Nation is arguably one of the most heavily impacted companies in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. As the entertainment giant is taking new measures to adapt to unprecedented changes brought on by COVID-19, Live Nation President Joe Berchtold is providing his take on the business outlook this year and in years to come.
In an interview with CNBC, Berchtold offered an optimistic tone for Live Nation’s resilience in the years to come, though he remained cautious for the remainder of 2020. The virus has disrupted events for months already and health experts are advising prolonged periods of physical distancing until a vaccine is secured, a process which could take 12 to 18 months.
“We look at this on two different time horizons. One is a year from now, fifteen months from now, is we have the vaccine in place. We’re highly confident that concerts – 2021, 2022 will be bigger than ever,” Berchtold said. “The artists want to perform, the fans want to attend the shows, we’re very comfortable, and very confident that as we get through this we’ll be able to get back to the normal being able to go to the shows thanks to the vaccine and the treatment.”
“The question is,” he added, “is over the next year is when are the shows going to happen? Where are they going to happen?”
Berchtold emphasized that the pandemic’s global threat impacts each Live Nation market differently and the company will adapt accordingly by region. In the U.S., many hard-hit regions are said to be nearing their plateau this month after weeks of lockdown in many areas and over 600,000 cases.
“Our view is we listen to the facts and we listen to the scientists. What they tell us, certainly right now, people feel good that this is starting to hit the apex but means we’ve got a long ways to go with the continued activities around the social distancing and watching our behavior to make sure that we can get to the point where it is safe to be gathering.”
One health expert revealed that concerts and other large events may not return until fall 2021, a prospect which Berchtold says Live Nation can survive based on their new cost-cutting initiatives and financial measures. Hiring freezes, reduced contractors and rent re-negotiations are among the steps being taken during this time. Berchtold and other senior executives will receive half their pay in 2020 while CEO Michael Rapino is forgoing his salary to save the company approximately $500 million.
Additionally, Live Nation has reached an agreement with banks to amend their net leverage covenant for the second and third quarters and tapped a $120 million revolving credit facility to up their overall liquidity to $3.8 billion – which Berchtold says leaves them with enough confidence for the upcoming months as the situation evolves.
Watch the full interview below.