Live Nation CEO Predicts Mid-Summer Return of Music Festivals

Michael Rappino thinks the U.S. is almost ready to allow big concerts again.

Written by Chris Parton
Live Nation CEO Predicts Mid-Summer Return of Music Festivals
GEORGE, WA - AUGUST 04: Singer Kane Brown performs on stage during the Watershed country music festival at the Gorge Amphitheatre on August 2, 2019 in George, Washington. (Photo by Mat Hayward/Getty Images)

This month marks the one-year anniversary of the day the music stopped — when COVID-19 began sweeping the nation and all live concerts were abruptly halted. But according to one of the biggest concert promoters in the world, the end is in sight.

Speaking with investors as part of a quarterly earnings call on Monday, Live Nation CEO Michael Rappino says he’s expecting music festivals and large-concert gatherings to return by “mid-summer” in the U.S. And he’s got reasons.

The call comes after the British government laid the plans for its official re-opening, setting June 21 for the date U.K. concerts can resume at 100 percent capacity. Major U.K. festivals set for August like Reading & Leeds and Creamfields subsequently sold out in “record time,” and Rappino feels shows in the U.S. and Canada are right behind — even though Washington D.C. has not made any specific announcements, and each state will likely reopen separately.

“Every day we seem to have a new state or country talking about when they’ll open up, so we’re feeling more optimistic than we were a month ago,” he said, according to reporting by Variety. “Lots of artists are calling, looking at how we start up in July, August, September. So for right now, we still believe we’ll have enough open in the U.K., Australia, Canada and the U.S. to keep what we have on the books in amphitheaters booked for now. We might have certain states that might not be ready, but we have enough states and enough artists willing to play the open slots if we get to that level in the right markets.

“So as long as these states open up to the right capacities, we can start in midsummer and in the southern U.S. we can go all the way into November,” Rappino concluded.

Meanwhile, the Live Nation head honcho has been hinting this way for some time. The company recently announced rescheduled dates for The Weeknd’s After Hours tour with new stops beginning in January, and has said they expect roughly double the number of live music tours in 2022 as would usually be seen. And Live Nation’s revenue was down by almost 85 percent in 2020, but its stock price is way up — another clue that optimism for music’s return is high.