Live events industry lost over $30 billion in 2020, report finds

Issues over cancellation insurance are also making it difficult for events to plan for 2021


Words by: Billy Ward

The live events industry lost out on over $30 billion globally this year, according to an end of year report from Pollstar.

Using data from the pre-pandemic first quarter, the report shows “what might have been versus what was” for the events sector if coronavirus hadn’t happened.

Based on Pollstar’s first quarter data of the top 100 tours, it was estimated that the revenue from 2020’s concert activity may have reached $12 billion in earnings for the first time.

However, due to the majority of this year’s live entertainment being cancelled or postponed because of Covid-19, revenue for the Top 100 tours came in at $1.2 billion this year, a 78% plummet compared to 2019’s $5.5 billion.

Overall, the impact of the pandemic amounted to a loss of more than $30 billion worldwide for the live events industry – a future calculated using Pollstar’s 10.92% year-on-year growth rate recorded for the first quarter.

Drive-in concerts have acted as a remedy for social distancing restrictions this year, accounting for 49% of all the events that occurred after March 15. Drive-in shows logged 419 events, grossing $18 million with 434,418 attendees.

Following news that a coronavirus vaccine is now being rolled out across the UK, the live events sector is hopeful for a revival in Spring 2021.

Glastonbury organisers are keen to get the festival back up and running after it was cancelled earlier in the year, with one of their lawyers announcing it would be going ahead as planned next summer. According to Somerset Live, however, the festival organisers Emily and Michael Eavis have said “it’s already getting tight” to prepare for 2021 because insurers are still reluctant to provide cancellation cover.

The festival is now asking the government to provide direct financial support, in the event that Glastonbury and other festivals are cancelled, so that they can plan ahead for the summer in confidence.

Read the full Pollstar end of year report here.

Read next: New 15-minute Covid-19 testing service is a “game changer” for the events industry

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