What to expect as live music concerts start to reappear after Covid-19

A concert at Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater outside of Denver.

John P. Kelly | The Unreleased Image Bank | Getty Images

When Riley Cash, 31, of Denver, received her second shot earlier this month, the next big event on her agenda was a concert at Red Rocks Park and the nearby amphitheater.

The open-air venue reopened this month with limited capacity and four nights of performances by a band named Lotus.

The fact that the concerts were already coming back was a surprise, Cash said. But after a year of working from home, he couldn’t wait to see one of his favorite acts live.

Tickets were around $ 91 per person, more than Cash expected. But he said he considers himself his lucky friend to have been able to secure tickets within days of going on sale.

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“I just want to go do something,” he said.

Some smaller, open-air concert halls are starting to open up and offer limited-capacity performances in the hopes of finding attendees who feel the same.

For the record, these places say they are struggling to fill the seats they are able to afford.

“We haven’t had a single show that we put on sale that hasn’t busted right away,” said spokesperson Brian Kitts of Red Rocks, located near Morrison, Colo.

The outdoor yoga series offered by Red Rocks also sold quickly, he said.

While it still looks a long way from reopening other forms of indoor entertainment like opera and ballet, initial sales of available events showed a stronger start than expected, Kitts said.

That’s a big deal for the city-owned venue, which lost around $ 52 million last year.

“No one saw this coming,” Kitts said.

“Every night we have 400 people working on the site, and all of those jobs are gone overnight,” he said.

Dixie Strange, 30, in a morning yoga session on August 22, 2020 at the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, Colorado.

Marc Makela | Getty Images News | Getty Images

At the start of the show season, ticket prices generally haven’t gone up, to the credit of bands and promoters, Kitts said.

But new Covid-19 protocols are in place.

There are no temperature checks at the door, nor requirements to show proof of vaccine or a negative Covid-19 test.

But other precautions have been created. There is six feet of space between groups of ticket holders, which now occupy only every other row. Masks are mandatory in interior spaces, such as bathrooms or the visitor center.

The site has also implemented contactless payment systems for all transactions.

We haven’t had a single show we put on sale that didn’t explode right away. “

Brian kitts

spokesperson for the red rocks

Some of the concert dates that were canceled in 2020 have moved to 2021. Yet new acts are clamoring to be on the calendar until October or even November, Kitts said.

“We will never again take for granted the possibility of getting together and going to a concert or going to a sporting event,” Kitts said.

While some sites are reporting strong initial ticket sales, a recent Bankrate.com survey found that only 16% of adults have purchased tickets to a live event.

Music concerts or festivals were the most popular, with 8% of respondents. Next come live theater or comedy, 6%; professional sports or university games, 5%; or other live events requiring tickets, 2%.

Perhaps one of the reasons for the poor results of the survey, which dates from the end of March, is that consumers continue to feel the money they lost in the events of last year, said Ted Rossman, Senior Industry Analyst at Bankrate.com.

“We found out last year that half of the people who had tickets to these events last year lost money,” Rossman said. “And I think a lot of people are shy as a result.”

Buying tickets is now a “calculated risk” that you can get your money back or credit if things can’t go as planned.

But Bankrate.com has found that when people buy tickets, they spend an average of $ 227 on concerts and music festivals, $ 191 on live comedy or theater, and $ 387 on games and sporting events. .

Some of these costs may include additional security protocols.

For some sites, implementing these processes has been essential in attracting attendees to the door.

Rhett Miller performs at City Winery NYC on April 3, 2021 in New York City.

Taylor Hill | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

At New York City Winery, seating will increase to 150 from the current 100 attendees per show starting May 1.

This date will also mark the start of a new spectator-only vaccination policy, who can prove it by using the CLEAR app and completing a questionnaire in advance. Those who have not received the vaccination can get around the rule by undergoing a Covid-19 test in advance or on site on the day of the event.

“We are very excited to move forward, so there is psychological comfort in being in a bubble knowing that everyone around you has also been vaccinated,” said Michael Dorf, CEO and president of City Winery.

Even so, the concert hall has no plans to relax protocols, especially when it comes to wearing masks, until the government agrees, Dorf said.

City Winery has struggled with different rules and capacity restrictions at its other locations in cities like Nashville, Tennessee; Atlanta and Chicago.

Seeing the live music ecosystem start to reappear was deeply powerful and very moving.

Michel Dorf

CEO and President, City Winery

But one constant remains the same: the appetite of fans to see live music again.

“Anything that we can put up for sale right now… is being sold with enthusiasm very quickly,” said Dorf.

Like many sites, City Winery has struggled over the past year amid the shutdown as it grapples with rent, utility bills and ongoing payroll.

But he tried to control the prices of his tickets, which are mainly dictated by the amount of artists’ remuneration. Several nightly shows helped offset limited ticket sales due to lower capacity.

As the pandemic continues to subside, Dorf said he also hopes these restrictions come with it.

The introductory joke he tells audiences before every show is always the same, he said.

“Please don’t get used to so much space there,” Dorf said. “We are going to cram you up and get you stuck here as soon as possible, safely.” “

The biggest reward was seeing the joy the performers feel to come back on stage and the audience witnessed it.

“To see the live music ecosystem start to reappear was deeply powerful and very moving,” said Dorf.

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