Artists, promoters, and venues have already postponed shows to the fall, however, industry insiders don’t believe gigs will really return until at least 2021.
Joe Spalding, the president and CEO of Boston’s Boch Center – which oversees the Wang Theatre and Shubert Theatre – told WBUR that he believes the entertainment industry will be the last industry to reopen following the pandemic. Already, the Boch Center has been postponing shows until 2021 and 2022.
“We are an organization that has crowds and it is impossible for the audience members, it is impossible to lower the capacity to try to do that,” Spalding said. “But more so, and just as important, you can’t self-distance backstage. Putting lights up, readying to do shows, rehearsals, actors [or musicians] in the dressing room, all that goes along with it. That does not work.”
At this point, it’s likely the concert world will open up in phases. Many concerts and festivals have been postponed to the fall – something that health care expert Zeke Emmanuel thinks is preemptive, telling the New York Times that he has “no idea” how promoters are planning shows for the fall, when he doesn’t believe the industry will bounce back until next year.
Results of a new survey, reported by Pollstar, shows that music fans are craving live events now more than ever. The survey shows that 90% of concertgoers are viewing livestreams and watching previous concert footage. However, according to a poll by Reuters, more than half of those surveyed said they would not attend a live event when venues reopen unless a vaccine is available – even if that means waiting over a year.
Already, Missouri decided to slowly reopen its government, meaning that live events will return. During the reopening, concert venues will moderate concert seating to be spaced out, in order to follow social distancing requirements. This will allos concertgoers to remain six feet apart. Additionally, the first socially-distant concert is slated to take place in Arkansas next week using the checkerboard seating concept.
Tony Visconti, the producer behind acts like David Bowie, told WBUR that he believes that the industry will fully recover, in time.
“Of course, the concert industry will bounce back — with a big bang,” he said. “Fans used to catch the flu at packed concerts and sexually transmitted diseases afterwards. Once the vaccine is here and it works [concerts are] back. Humans love to congregate and sharing a musical evening with loads of ecstatic people is a way of life we’ll never get tired of. For now, we have to be careful and, above all, be patient until it’s time to safely go out and play again.”