Concert Industry in North America Lost $30 Billion in 2020

The pandemic has had a vast impact on live music

concert industry lost 30 billion 2020
Photo by Ben Kaye
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We all knew the entertainment industry was going to take a huge hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but as the year rounds out and the shutdown stretches into its ninth month, numbers are coming in worse than many had predicted. According to Pollstar (via Variety), the concert industry in North America alone stands to lose more than $30 billion in 2020.

Industry insiders had originally projected a record-setting year at the box office, with an estimated $12.2 billion take if things had been normal. Instead, with touring and live performances largely shutdown since March, the final number added up to a loss of $9.7 billion. That beats even early estimates for 2020 losses, as Q1 projections put the final total at negative $8.9 billion, but the unpredictability of the pandemic only added to the downturn.

The rest of the $30 billion deficit comes from things like sponsorships, ticketing costs, concessions, merch, and ancillary businesses like transportation, restaurants, and hotels. Pollstar also factored in losses incurred by the 147,000 live businesses in the publication’s directories, plus industry studies that tally yearly revenue and make projections about future quarters. Find the full report at Pollstar.

Speaking of the depressing financial news, president of Pollstar owner Oak View Group’s Media & Conferences Division Ray Waddell admitted it was “painful” to put hard numbers on “the adversity and loss our industry and many of our colleagues faced…” However, he continued, “… We understand it is a critical undertaking towards facilitating our recovery, which is thankfully on the horizon. With vaccines, better testing, new safety and sanitization protocols, smart ticketing and other innovations, the live industry will be ramping up in the coming months, and we’re sure that at this time next year we’ll have a very different story to tell.”

The Pollstar report also included data on what little touring revenue there was from the early part of the year. Between November 30th and March 7th, Elton John’s “Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour” topped the worldwide rankings with a $87.1 million gross. Others who brought in bank included Celine Dion ($71.2 million), U2 ($51.2 million), Queen + Adama Lambert ($44.6 million), Post Malone ($40.3 million), Eagles ($33.6 million), and Jonas Brothers ($32.7 million).

Perhaps hardest hit by the year’s losses are smaller, independent music venues, 90% of which could be forced to close without help. The National Independent Venue Association has been fighting for government assistance by pressing congress to pass the Save Our Stages Bill, while also collecting funds for emergency relief. Consequence of Sound is doing our small part to pitch in by selling a benefit “Protect Live Music” long sleeve T-shirt, with a portion of proceeds going to NIVA’s Emergency Relief Fund. You can help out and grab your own shirt below or at the Consequence store.

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