Once the concert promoter gets US government approval to operate above 50% capacity in the majority of areas where it hosts concerts, Rapino feels it will take only a matter of months to rehire employees and begin promoting shows.
“We’ve been talking to our global employees about that kind of timeline when we can [promote] our first show at scale,” Rapino said to analysts and investors on a company conference call Thursday (25 February) for the company’s year-end earnings report. In that three-month period, the company will “start bringing back marketing, production [and] all the kind venue functions”. He also said that the company could expect to ramp up “between the on-sale or the announcement and the actual show".
Rapino also said that “a clear outline to a 75% to 100%” capacity for outdoor US events in 2021 was looking likely.
Live Nation's projected timeline is largely dependent on the ongoing US vaccine rollout, which could be sped up following the new single-shot vaccine from Johnson & Johnson expected to be approved by the FDA on Friday (26 February).
“We might have certain states that might not be ready, but we have enough states and enough artists willing to play the open slots if we get to that level in the right markets,” Rapino said on the call. “So as long as these states open up to the right capacities, we can start in midsummer and in the southern US we can go all the way into November.”
“Every day we seem to have a new state or country talking about when they’ll open up,” Rapino added. "So we’re feeling more optimistic than we were a month ago.
“Lots of artists are calling, looking at how we start up in July, August, September. So for right now, we still believe we’ll have enough open in the UK, Australia, Canada, and the US to keep what we have on the books in amphitheaters booked for now.”
This comes as positive news, since the large-scale concert industry is generally not in favor of holding events at half capacity.
On the same call, Rapino said that shows held below a 50-percent capacity are not a “viable model to ramp back up fixed costs”.
AEG CEO Jay Marciano also recently told Rolling Stone that he was skeptical that the concert business could function in a socially distanced manner.
“We built an industry based upon selling out,” he said. “It’s important for the experience. The first 50 percent of the tickets pay for expenses like the stagehands and the marketing, the ushers, and the rest and the venue, and the other 50 percent is shared between the artists and the promoter – so, if all you’re going to sell is 50 percent of tickets, nobody’s making any money. Selling 85 percent of tickets is roughly the break-even.”