Live Nation Entertainment CEO Michael Rapino told CNBC that the U.S. concert business is “fully open” after the lengthy disruption due to COVID, with a packed summer lineup with concerts and festivals. The leader of the entertainment giant expressed optimism that the current trend would hold, despite concerns from public health officials regarding dangerous new variants of the COVID-19 virus and struggles in convincing holdouts to get vaccinated.
“We’re very excited about the American market,” he told CNBC’s Julie Boorstin on the Power Lunch program from a conference in Sun Valley Idaho. “You know, 70 percent of our business is going to be the U.S. and the U.K. Those two markets seem on track. In America, we’re fully open at this point.”
Michael Rapino told Boorstin that expectations are for the European market to reopen more fully beginning later in the summer and into the fall, with Asia likely to reopen more in 2022. With so many artists looking to get back to touring after the forced pause of the past year and a half, the current struggle is as much about finding the right venues and dates to route a tour with so much competition for the space.
“We’re going to make sure that we don’t… give the four shows in one week and you’ve got to pick one,” he said. “We’ll spread those over a couple of years and a couple markets. So we look at the pent-up demand as lots of availability, but we’re also going to make sure the consumer has time to buy it.”
Live Nation Entertainment (NYSE: LYV) stock has rebounded from an initial crash as COVID took hold and events were cancelled across the globe, posting record highs. After trading in early 2020 at around $70-75 per share, stock plummeted to as low as $30 a share in early April, before cost-cutting actions helped restore investor confidence, despite later reports indicating that his forfeit of salary was much more temporary than originally believed. Share prices climbed steadily throughout the rest of 2020, then shot past previous record highs to move into the $80-90 range in early 2021, where they have largely remained, closing at $82.07 Thursday afternoon.
His comments came as a conservative group launched a negative ad campaign targeting both he and his company over their alleged “woke” politics, which the ad argues are designed to distract consumers from their failings and high fees. Neither Rapino nor Live Nation or Ticketmaster have issued any response to the negative campaign.