The coronavirus crisis has taken an inevitable toll on Live Nation earnings for the first quarter, released Thursday. The entertainment giant posted a 21 percent loss in revenue for the quarter, which ended March 31, weeks after the industry came to a grinding halt amid the pandemic.
Concert year-over-year revenue dropped 25 percent in 2020 from $1.318 billion to $993.4 million. Ticketing revenue fell 16 percent to $284.3 million from $337.6 million in 2019. This report also comes following the news that the company was implementing drastic cost-cutting measures to save $500 million this year. Despite the financial hardships, CEO Michael Rapino – who is forgoing his annual salary – shared an optimistic outlook for Live Nation going forward.
“At the beginning of the year, we were on track for tremendous growth across all our businesses with both fan demand and artist touring increasing on a global basis. However, in mid-March we came to a halt and we have held no concerts in almost two months. Despite these challenging times, we continue to have full confidence in the long-term supply and demand dynamics of the live concerts industry, Live Nation’s leadership position and our business model’s ability to successfully deliver profitable growth and shareholder value,” Rapino stated to open the Live Nation earnings report.
Going forward, Rapino detailed safety protocols that may be implemented when shows return and said that venues will reopen for concerts “when the time is right.” One of those measures involves reduced capacity, which would ultimately lead to further drops in fan attendance on future earnings reports. Fan attendance in the first quarter was down 6.2 percent, though Rapino maintained that concertgoers will be in high demand post-pandemic.
The report outlined that “over 90% of fans are holding on to their tickets for rescheduled shows where refunds are available,” though a fair share of consumers have lashed out over the refund process in recent weeks and following the May 1 launch of Live Nation’s revised refund policy.
Live Nation has seen brief glimpses of financial optimism and even saw Saudi Arabia purchase a sizable stake in the company. However, the industry remains stagnant as the virus wears on and with little to no events planned in the immediate future, the second quarter earnings could be unprecedented.