Live Nation Entertainment has laid off more than 96 percent of its staff amid the ongoing COVID pandemic, according to a letter from a regional manager in Connecticut. The manager, Michael Andrews, referenced the cuts in a letter to a Connecticut utility commission asking for forgiveness in over $1,000 in late fees associated with unpaid bills from 2020.
Live Nation is “hemorrhaging money each month,” according to Andrews. As a result, it has either furloughed or laid off thousands of employees – from a pre-pandemic number of approximately 18,700 to a current roster of around 700 – 96.25 percent of the total. This number includes the finance team that approves payment of bills such as the one he was appealing for forgiveness on the late fees being charged.
“It has been a struggle to get bills approved as the (chain) of command has changed,” he told the commission. “And when I do it falls a few days past our due date which causes us to incur hundreds of dollars sometimes thousands” in late fees. The venue in question, the Toyota Oakdale Theatre, reportedly has been seeing electrical bills in excess of $10,000 per month despite being closed since March 2020 due to COVID.
The figures cited offer previously unavailable insight into the lengths that Live Nation – which owns Ticketmaster and holds a monopolistic grip on the North American concert business – has had to take to survive the pandemic. Beyond the shedding of all but a tiny fraction of its employees, there has been tremendous upheaval in leadership at the entertainment behemoth. Ticketmaster President Jared Smith has stepped down, with Mark Yovich promoted as his replacement with Amy Howe moving to Global Chief Operating Officer, and a slew of other moves involving executives shifting roles.
At the same time, the company has been rocked by a series of costly scandals since the pandemic ground business to a halt in the spring of 2020. There have been millions in fines for a huge data breach in the UK, a $10 million settlement to put to bed criminal charges over alleged illegal access of rival company technology, all following an extension of its consent decree for several years in a deal with the Department of Justice involving allegations of anti-competitive behavior related to its exclusive venue contracts. The settlement over the Songkick/Crowdsurge case could prove to have long-term implications, as most venue contracts would have clauses related to illegal activities that could come into play should anyone wish to renegotiate.
Live Nation executives have maintained that the current vaccination rollout should allow for a robust concert calendar beginning in the summer of 2021. It’s looking increasingly as if that might be more important for the companies survival than many have previously realized.