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After the Covid-19 pandemic, concerts, festivals, sports, and other big events are back

When cities and states across the country began issuing stay-at-home orders in March of last year, Live For Live Music and concerts turned to tracking cancellations rather than promoting shows. But as vaccination rates rise and governments relax their pandemic regulations, the music production and marketing company’s site is back to normal.

“For the first time in longer than we can remember, today’s update doesn’t feature a single cancellation or postponement,” read a recent Live For Live Music blog post.

The recovery of the event ecosystem is happening faster than expected. Event professionals see the number of events and event participation reaching and potentially exceeding pre-pandemic levels in 2019. But this recovery depends on a number of factors, including the effectiveness of the vaccination program, the nature of the events themselves and their location. are situated.

Executives in the events industry have repeatedly pointed to pent-up demand to illustrate their certainty that events will succeed in a post-pandemic world. After a year and a half spent at home, many people are more than ready to attend festivals, concerts, sporting events and other large group hobbies that they have been missing. So far, it seems they are doing their best to make up for lost time.

What the news data suggest

June is set to be the first month since before the start of the pandemic that events in the United States will net more than $ 1 billion, according to new data from demand forecasting company PredictHQ. The total economic impact – an estimate of travel, food, and accommodation spending for the 2,500 biggest events this month, including sports, concerts, conferences, and exhibitions – is expected to be $ 1. $ 6 billion, which is more than it has been in over a year.

Zowie Bowie’s Chris Phillips performs at “Downtown Rocks Again!” event in Las Vegas, Nevada on June 1.
Ethan Miller / Getty Images

GettyImages 1232384483 copy After the Covid-19 pandemic, concerts, festivals, sports, and other big events are back

People attend a live concert during the Juke Joint Festival in Clarksdale, Mississippi on April 17.
Rory Doyle / Bloomberg via Getty Images

These types of events were virtually absent over the past year as sanitary measures prohibited many group activities. The June numbers represent a substantial improvement and will likely increase as cities and states continue to reduce their capacity and masking restrictions, and more events are added to calendars.

“There is capital available, there is this pent-up demand, and there are these events that are generated for people,” Campbell Brown, CEO and co-founder of PredictHQ, told Recode, describing what he called the “perfect storm of demand”.

The country’s top ticket sellers are also welcoming the change.

“The demand is coming back in a way that exceeds our expectations just 60 days ago,” Akshay Khanna, managing director of StubHub ticket exchange, told Recode. “This is driven by confidence in the vaccination program and the large number of vaccinations since February.”

StubHub expects the number of events and ticket sales in the second half of the year to match and potentially exceed 2019, given this rush in demand and the increase in the number of events being announced.

“Understanding pent-up demand and human nature, I would be surprised if this were not the case, assuming the vaccine rollout continues and the number of cases continues to decline,” Khanna said.

Live Nation, the event company that owns Ticketmaster, recently announced that key tour dates booked for next year are up double digits from 2019, which was a record year for the company. But so far this year, events have yet to reach their pre-pandemic levels, either in number of events or overall attendance, according to PredictHQ.

At the end of May, attendance at festivals planned for the second half of the year is expected to reach 87% of its 2019 levels, according to PredictHQ. Meanwhile, concerts and conferences only make up 53% of their attendance in 2019 for the events listed in May of each year. Sporting events were slightly higher at 58 percent and on the rise.

As more and more events are added thanks to the success of current events, the overall number of attendees will continue to increase, PredictHQ said. The company expects attendance levels this year to exceed 2019.

What exactly this recovery will look like depends on various factors.

What is coming back and why

The most promising events to date are, of course, those taking place outdoors. Outdoor events, such as music festivals, pose a lower risk of Covid-19 infection and thus recover faster.

A number of popular multi-day music festivals that draw tens of thousands of people are back on the calendar this year. Bonnaroo, Austin City Limits, Electric Daisy, Astro World and Rolling Loud all sold out in record time, according to Ticketmaster. Garth Brooks just had the best-selling stadium show of all time, with 50,000 seats for Utah’s Rice-Eccles Outdoor Stadium, all sold out in under 30 minutes.

“The high demand proves that fans are eager to return to the experiences they love – it feels like every week we have another record breaking event,” wrote Ticketmaster President Mark Yovich. , in an email to Recode. “For some of those record sales we have millions of fans lining up for a few hundred thousand tickets.”

And these record-breaking events are not exclusive to outside venues. In May, the world title fight between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Billy Joe Saunders set a record for attendance at an indoor boxing event in the United States, with more than 70,000 fans at AT&T Stadium in Texas. It was one of many events to surpass attendance levels before the double-digit pandemic and sometimes more, according to StubHub.

GettyImages 1317558224 copy After the Covid-19 pandemic, concerts, festivals, sports, and other big events are back

Singer Angela Aguilar performs before the Canelo-Sanders fight at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on May 8.
Omar Vega / Getty Images
“Concerts are probably going to see the highest demand because people got to watch sports – even if you can’t be there you can turn on the TV and watch,” explained StubHub’s Khanna.

“I couldn’t watch a concert, and there’s no real alternative – I can listen to Spotify, but it’s not the same as seeing Billie Eilish in person,” he said. he said, adding that comedy shows and theater also don’t have a great alternative to in-person events.

Indeed, Eilish, along with rapper Bad Bunny, had some of the highest sales on StubHub over the past two months.

And the grand opening of new stadiums for teams like the Las Vegas Raiders and LA Chargers is also boosting demand to attend games there.

GettyImages 1232384320 copy After the Covid-19 pandemic, concerts, festivals, sports, and other big events are back

Participants walk past a Covid-19 public health safety sign at the Juke Joint Festival in Clarksdale, Mississippi, April 17.
Rory Doyle / Bloomberg via Getty Images

GettyImages 1232384478 copy After the Covid-19 pandemic, concerts, festivals, sports, and other big events are back

Attendance at festivals and exhibitions in Nevada and Texas is already above its 2019 levels, according to PredictHQ.
Rory Doyle / Bloomberg via Getty Images

Small local events also come back in person. During the pandemic, event management and ticketing website Eventbrite saw an increase in virtual events, many of which focused on topics such as health and wellness, personal care and career development, according to the company’s marketing director, Tamara Mendelsohn. Now, common searches include food trucks, auto shows, live music, and comedy.

“We see in the data this revival of a desire to go out again and celebrate and do the fun things in quotes that you weren’t able to do in person last year,” Mendelsohn said.

The success of the various events is also linked to the policies of the various states. Attendance at festivals and exhibitions in Nevada and Texas is already above its 2019 levels, according to PredictHQ. In Texas, those numbers are more than double what they used to be, as they absorb pent-up demand and host events from other states. Meanwhile, data from PredictHQ shows that California, which has stricter policies and is among the bottom 10 states for returning event attendance, is at about half of its 2019 attendance rate. .

“You see somewhere like Nevada and Texas, which lifted their mandates a month and a half ago, which has sped up a lot of event booking change rates,” Brown said. “And so what we expect to see is that when California comes out of office on June 15, you will see an acceleration of events booked towards the end of the year.”

For some people, the precautions that happen will make all the difference.

Many sites nationwide require a vaccination passport or proof of a negative Covid-19 test to attend. New York’s Excelsior Pass wallet was recently the most downloaded health and fitness app in the United States, according to app measurement company App Annie. Other precautions such as social distancing, wearing masks, and limited-capacity events are likely to become less common as local and state governments withdraw their mandates.

It’s even possible that events may soon look a lot like what they used to be.

“I think it’s going to go back to pretty much very similar to what it was before the pandemic, but with better security measures,” Brown said of PredictHQ. “But if people want to wear a mask to a game, I don’t think they’ll be ostracized because of it either.”

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