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One in Five Concert Ticket Holders No-Showed in 2021

Many of the largest, most expensive tours saw no-show rates of 20%, while Live Nation reported their average as 17%

no-shows concerts 2021 one in five 20%
Riot Fest 2021, photo by Josh Druding
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    About one out of every five people who held tickets for concerts in 2021 stayed home.

    In most years, the very biggest touring acts and venues expect less than 4% of ticket buyers to no-show, while an average Live Nation concert saw about 12% of people stay home in 2019. But according to a Wall Street Journal report, that rate rose across the board in COVID-struck 2021, with between 17% and 20% of ticket purchasers never scanning their tickets.

    Some of the hardest-hits acts this year have been legacy artists with aging fanbases, including The Eagles, George Strait, Billy Joel, The Flaming Lips, and Dead & Company, who have all reported no-show rates of 20%. While a no-show is much better than a never-purchased, venues are especially anxious about the loss of older, wealthier patrons, since they are more likely to spend money on alcohol, food, and other price-hiked luxuries.

    At the other end of the spectrum, smaller club and theater shows have seen rates as high as 25% to 30%, though the average is probably a little lower. Live Nation said the overall no-show rate had risen 5% from 2019, up to 17% this year. Surging Delta cases and the threat of Omicron haven’t helped, but the biggest factor is rescheduled shows.

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    Even in normal times, rescheduled events lead to more no-shows. People forget they had the tickets, or miss the window for a refund. And over the last two years, there have been more concerts rescheduled than at any other time in history. But with COVID-19 there are additional considerations, with some patrons objecting to venue precautions because they’re too strict or not strict enough, and others simply looking at rising case numbers and deciding to stay home.

    “It’s going to take time to get back to what I think is normal,” said John Meglen, an executive at AEG Presents. “2022 is going to be a bumpy road.”

    Editor’s note: Join us in supporting independent music by picking up a piece from our Protect Live Music collection. A portion of all proceeds go to supporting independent creatives.

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