The show must not go on.
The live music business faces a period of cancellations in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic that could seriously damage the $26-billion industry.
Among the companies that stand to suffer most acutely from a big drop in live concerts is Live Nation Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: LYV), a major concert promoter and venue operator.
Both Live Nation and AEG announced Thursday afternoon that they are halting all large-scale tours in the U.S. and overseas until April and asking artists to return home, according to Rolling Stone.
SXSW, Ultra, Coachella Postponed Or Canceled
Among the live events that have been canceled are South by Southwest and the Ultra Music Festival in Miami, along with several individual concerts, including two Madonna shows in Paris and Santana's European tour.
The Coachella music festival, the second largest in the country, has been postponed until October.
Venue owners are nervously unsure how long the pandemic may last, and trying to walk a line between staying in business and not exposing audiences to too much risk.
“There are no good answers, just hard questions," Steven Adelman, vice president of the Event Safety Alliance, told Rolling Stone. "There’s a lot at stake for people’s health, as well financially."
Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino said on an earnings call in late February he didn't think the virus outbreak would have a major impact on his company's long-term outlook - but that was well before things took a dramatic turn this week in the United States, with some communities banning large gatherings and professional sports leagues going dark.
Rapino and Live Nation are hoping the timing of the virus works in concert with the typical timing of the festival and tour schedule.
"The next few months, we’ll have some cancellations, I assume, here and there in some arenas and clubs, but the heart of our business happens this summer," he said.
Coachella photo by Jason Persse via Wikimedia.