And the band played on…
In difficult times it’s easy to let optimism cloud your ability to perceive reality. There is a saying that nothing focuses a man’s attention like his imminent execution. But, in reality, you feel no pain even while your neck rests on the wooden base of the guillotine. By the time the blade cuts you’re already dead. It is imperative to act before the pain or you’ve lost the window to shape the end game.
This is not an empty metaphor. Early in this Covid-19 crisis I predicted Coachella would cancel and when it was rescheduled to October I was equally forceful that date would never stick. My predictions out of the gate have been sports won’t occur in 2020 except perhaps in empty rooms. I’ve consistently said nothing of consequence will happen live until at least April 2021.
Since then, Broadway continues to push back the return to performances which they are now projecting for January 2021. Concerts you can attend without watching from your car are unlikely this year. Who could have ever imagined applause would be replaced by the honking of horns?
Yesterday, June 24th, 2020 Outside Lands gave up the year and announced tickets will be on sale today for the Fall of 2021. This morning Bonnaro canceled their 2020 rescheduled festival. The last men standing in festivals for 2020 are BottleRock in Napa, CA on October 2nd-4th and Austin City Limits in Texas that same weekend and again the weekend following. I’m still holding my BottleRock tickets in hopes of seeing the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but I already released my hotel reservations. It’s not happening.
As a further indicator of how difficult progress is in California, Disneyland has postponed their reopening which was to take place on July 17th. No new date is set. Texas is less predictable, but this morning the governor paused their reopening — halting any further businesses from opening as Covid-19 cases spike and Houston emergency rooms near capacity.
The ticket industry is full of shuttered theaters, teams which cannot play and concerts which are be again rescheduled, after having already being pushed from Spring 2020 to Fall 2020. Everyone who still has a job is acutely aware their company cannot continue to function on zero revenues. The second wave of job cuts is coming fast. So, in an effort to postpone what’s coming they’re planning for a future that will never come.
The world is in an epic shift. The survivors will be those who accept change as inevitable and plan for the reality of the situation rather than the most palatable outcome. 2020 is done. 2021 is a wild card while our politicians seek to minimize risk in order to restore the way things were. However, failure to accept the very real consequences of treating a pandemic as an ongoing threat is like having lunch with a tiger in an open pen. At any point you might become the lunch.
Not sure I’m right? New York, New Jersey and Connecticut just imposed 14 day quarantine periods on people coming in from states where Covid-19 is spiking. Texas, California and Florida are setting new records of infected and hospitalized victims of the pandemic daily. Hospital beds are growing tighter across the country. Meanwhile, remarkably there is an actual political struggle over whether we need to take medical precautions to avoid mass spread of the disease.
The problem is the coronavirus spreads silently. If, instead the infected projectile vomited on the hour, we’d have no debate. The country would be ramping up production of mops and buckets. One sign there is growing acceptance of this reality among voters: polling date shows Joe Biden’s candidacy for President is growing stronger while Biden himself remains relatively out of sight.
What to do? Recognize that in your circle at work it’s hard to speak up about how to cut friends and budgets. Loyalties conflict with reality. Sometimes you need an outsider to come in and simply assess things for what they are instead of what you wish they were. That’s why I started the RescueMeet.com project to help the industry figure its way through together. And, that’s why my consulting arm is working with clients to solve these problems.
We’re doing everything we can to help. In the last month we’ve created seven hours of video content distributed for free through Rescue Meet, and offered free assistance to guide industry groups to find their own solutions. For more company specific issues we provide expert advice and analysis by taking a deep dive into your situation and try to help formulate options to navigate this crisis which continues to disrupt our industry creating pandemic problems and paralysis.
There’s always pain in truth and there’s often truth in lyrics. Here, in an old song by The Everly Brothers is what’s going on. Just interchange the word “love” with “reality”.
Love wounds and marks
Any heart not tough or strong enough
To take a lot of pain, take a lot of pain
Love is like a cloud, it holds a lot of rain
Ooh love hurts
I’m young I know
But even so
I know a thing or two, I learned from you
I really learned a lot, really learned a lot
Love is like a flame, it burns you when it’s hot
Ooh love hurts
Some fools think
Of happiness, blissfulness, togetherness
Some fools fool themselves, I guess
They’re not foolin’ me
Love Hurts — Everly Brothers
We will get through this. But, set your time horizons realistically. This year is toast. Next year will be difficult at best. We really need to be planning for 2022 before someone else gets it fully booked.
Let me know what you think.
I’m a consultant advising leading companies in the live event space. If you are an investor, artist, promoter, team, producer, venue operator, primary or secondary market of ticketed events or have comments on this article, please don’t hesitate to contact me: