The North American Concert Industry Lost $30 Billion In 2020

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Photo Credit: Vishnu R Nair

In its newly published year-end report, Pollstar indicated that the novel coronavirus’s unprecedented disruption to the North American concert industry resulted in losses of more than $30 billion on the year.

The Irving Azoff-owned trade publication’s 2020 analysis – entitled “2020*—A Year Forever Qualified” – also highlighted a number of other less-than-encouraging North American concert industry stats, besides shedding light upon some relative bright points. Beginning by emphasizing the record-setting attendance and revenues that concerts and music festivals generated in 2019 – as well as the broader annual growth ushered in between 2010 and 2019 – the piece notes that 2020 appeared poised to produce all-time-high concert income of its own.

To be sure, the performance metrics associated with Pollstar’s first quarter, which spanned November 21st, 2019, to February 19th, 2020, suggested that “the year was set to be the greatest year in live.” The Top 100 Worldwide Tours’ gross hiked almost 11 percent year over year, to nearly $840 million, and ticket sales jumped 4.5 percent, to north of 9.4 million.

More broadly, acts including The Eagles, The Rolling Stones, Tame Impala, Billie Eilish, The Black Keys, Weezer, and Kenny Chesney, to name just some, were forced to put their touring plans on ice due to the pandemic, the text reiterates. Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour finished first on the Top 100 Worldwide Tours list, thanks to its pre-March successes, with some 665,000 tickets sold at an average price of $130.99. Celine Dion placed second, to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s third.

The ninth-ranked Dead & Company, featuring three former Grateful Dead members, sold over 65,000 tickets at a staggering average price of $427.90 – topping the list in terms of cost per pass.

Total North American concert industry revenues came in at $12.2 billion, with losses of $9.7 billion, Pollstar relays, having based the figure off the aforementioned Q1 growth rate. And by factoring for merch sales, concessions, sponsorships, transportation, lodging, and “other economic activity tied directly to live events…it doesn’t take much calculus to arrive at a full economic impact of greater than $30 billion.”

The year-end summary also cites studies that forecasted North American concert industry revenues of well above $30 billion in 2020, as well as the billions in aid that some relief legislation had earmarked specifically for the live event sphere, in indicating that “it’s not a much of leap [sic] to conclude the live industry revenues are at well over $30 billion a year.”

Considering the positive takeaways of a decidedly difficult year, the piece notes the ongoing distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, which could well expedite the full-scale return of live music, and the emergence of multiple medium-sized agencies. (For instance, former Paradigm agents founded TBA, “an alternative to both big, corporate agencies and small, boutique shops,” in September.)

Additionally, fans have been quick to purchase passes to 2021 concerts and music festivals, and Live Nation signaled that the vast majority of ticketholders are foregoing refunds and opting to keep their tickets.

2 Responses

  1. James

    Not earning a potential $30 billion is not the same as losing $30 billion. I too failed to earn $30 billion this year but I’m not going around complaining about my staggering loss. You state losses $9.7 billion – that’s plenty bad – no need to exagerate it.

  2. Dr. Faucibreath

    All over a case of the sniffles where 99.6 % of all people survive, and nearly %100 survival rate for those under 30.

    Coronavirus—greatest hoax ever. I cannot believe how stupid people are.