The Business Model for Drive-in Livestreams
The live event industry was largely shocked initially by COVID-19. The damage from cancelled events will be in the billions of dollars. The industry has tried to pivot quickly with different options like livestreams, drive-in shows, and small outdoor events to bring in whatever revenue they can.
There will likely be lasting changes in the future. With the growth of internet businesses, livestreaming was likely destined to grow without COVID-19. A preference for outdoor events and safety measures such as masks will stick around for awhile.
However, no one ever would have predicted a resurgence for drive-ins. The drive-in movie industry was dying, unsurprisingly. Some theaters were thrown a lifeline with musicians performing concerts at the venues. On a larger scale, Garth Brooks ran a pre-recorded show across hundreds of drive-ins simultaneously, and The Rolling Stones are showing a film of previous concert in Cuba. Blake Shelton has a similar performance coming up on July 25th.
The drive-in livestreams or pre-recordings are an interesting business model. Artists are obviously using it since there are not really any other options, but could it have any lasting staying power?
While artists would very likely prefer the larger revenue that would come from traveling for packed arena/amphitheater shows, there are some obvious attractions to this drive-in model. First with the livestream or pre-recorded show, they do not have the burden of traveling and being on the road. Additionally, doing one show across hundreds of drive-ins can be pretty good financially, at least on a level of effort measurement. Just do one show or even better yet run a pre-recorded show and rake in the cash from hundreds of shows. Not much to it for the artist.
So will these drive-in concerts continue when COVID-19 is long and gone? (Which may be awhile). I could see them continuing somewhat for a few reasons. Drive-in theaters that were going out of business now have this idea to continue trying. Fans love to tailgate before normal concerts, and these shows provide a full tailgate concert (which will only get more attractive when some restrictions loosen and fans are not restricted to remain in vehicles and can mingle).
However, the pre-recorded and streaming shows may only work for certain artists. For those type of shows, you need an artist with strong history and staying power that will attract fans no matter what type of show. This can work for hugely famous artists/bands like Garth Brooks, The Rolling Stones, or Metallica that can attract from their large older fan bases as well as younger fans who want to catch them while they can. For current artists, I believe fans truly want the standard live experiences. But in the meantime, the appeal and nostalgia of a drive-in concert will do.