Live & Touring

Live music on edge as Omicron variant spreads

The live music sector is on edge after reports that the SARS Omicron variant is spreading rapidly and likely more contagious than its COVD-19 predecessors.

Stock in concert giant Live Nation fell 8.05% Friday, a day when The Dow Industrial Average fell 2.5%.

While Live Nation recovered a quarter of its loss in early trading Monday, the broader live music business is increasingly on edge.

Artists, most of whom lost 60-80% of their income when touring, froze in March of 2020, were starting to earn much-needed revenue from live performance, are watching the spread of Omicron, wondering how they’ll survive if more shows are canceled or postponed. For many, even reduced attendance can lead to unprofitable touring.

Venues and promoters have similar concerns. While thousand received help in the form of SBA SVOG grants, those funds are spent or allocated and more government help seems unilikely.

For fans eager to return to shows, stronger variants mean more perceived risk which could cause them to stay home. At the height of the Delta variant’s spread, attendance was already down at many shows with some reporting a significant percentage of tickets bought in advance but not used.

Bruce Houghton is the Founder and Editor of Hypebot and MusicThinkTank and serves as a Senior Advisor to Bandsintown, which acquired both publications in 2019. He is the Founder and President of the Skyline Artists Agency and a professor for the Berklee College Of Music.

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