Live Nation and Ticketmaster were hit with another round of furloughs on Thursday, said to number in the hundreds, sources tell Variety. The cuts at the world’s largest live-entertainment company (Live Nation owns Ticketmaster) are said to reach across all business units, particularly regional offices. A rep for the company did not immediately respond to Variety’s request for comment; the news was first reported in Pollstar.
While CEO Michael Rapino has made aggressive moves to help the company weather the pandemic, the live-entertainment industry has been crushed by the lockdown: Revenue was down by a staggering 98% from year-to-year — from $3.2 billion to $74 million — in the company’s most recent quarterly earnings report. Ticketmaster furloughed a quarter of its staff late in April, while Live Nation furloughed a reported 20% of its employees the following month, with Rapino foregoing his entire $3 million salary for the year and other top execs taking 50% pay cuts.
Also in April, the company reported in an SEC filing “Additional cost reduction efforts include hiring freezes, reduction in the use of contractors, rent re-negotiations, furloughs, and reduction or elimination of other discretionary spending, including, among other things, travel and entertainment, repairs and maintenance, and marketing.”
In the August earnings report, the company said that 86% of fans have chosen to hold onto their tickets for rescheduled shows instead of asking for refunds, “indicating a strong desire to attend concerts in the future.” The number of fans throwing their tickets for festivals into the following year rather than opting for a refund is lower, at about two-thirds. But Live Nation pointed to strong sales for festivals in Europe that have already gone on sale for next summer, saying 19 million tickets have been sold for 2021 shows.
In the earnings call, Rapino expressed faith in vaccines and treatment to make the world safe for shows a year from now.
As for earnings, Rapino said, “We didn’t want deferred revenue to have any false narrative to it. We are leading the industry,” he said, in offering refunds to fans who want them for postponed shows, suggesting that some competitors are determined to hold on to that ticket money at any cost to its image.
“I believe ’21, ’22 will be record years,” Rapino said. “Regardless of what quarter exactly we scale at, the business will be stronger than ever.”
Live Nation reps on the call said the company is “talking about a spring return to business outdoors in 40 countries” and that the business could see a return to concertgoing in “some markets before the spring,” but that the determination would be different for different territories. The U.S., they indicated, would take the longest in ramping back up, but the 50 amphitheaters that Live Nation manages would provide an advantage.