Kathy Willard, Chief Financial Officer, Live Nation

Rick Mueller
– Kathy Willard

The Caretakers

Executives making the right moves to keep careers, companies, shows, the business, rolling. Operators as opposed to architects.

Kathy Willard
Chief Financial Officer, Live Nation  

For a company as focused on concerts as Live Nation, the live shutdown has challenged its very being. However, the concerts giant has seemingly taken the appropriate steps and built up the financial strength over the past decade to withstand even COVID-19. Credit CFO Kathy Willard. 

In March, Live Nation was quick to announce that concerts would indefinitely be on hold as the coronavirus entered North America, setting a standard of caution and giving guidance to the rest of the industry, which had never contended with such a force before.

“While this year has brought challenges that I am sure none of us ever expected, it’s also given us time to pause and reflect in a whole new way,” Willard says.  “We miss concerts, we miss helping artists entertain and inspire their fans – but we will come out of this stronger than before.”

With the pandemic taking hold in March, the company quickly enacted cost reductions, with furloughs and salary cuts announced in April, freezing new hiring, deferring ticketing and artist advances and more. All told, the company committed to reducing costs by $600 million, shored up its finances with new revolving credit facilities and took other measures to get through the crisis.

“Our employees have swiftly adapted to navigate this uncharted territory with problem solving and innovation, and there are some great ideas that could help us improve the live experience well into the future. I believe all of us want this back as quickly as we can have it, and we’re glad to see global fan trends around the world supporting that wholeheartedly. We will of course do shows in a safe way, where our fans and artist are protected and comfortable.  When the time is right, the live experience will be back, better than ever.”

The moves have instilled confidence in investors, with what seemed like a complete free-fall in stock price in March when it hit a low of $21 per share to 

at press time above $50, but in early June sniffing $60 per share despite no shows taking place. 

Better than ever also means more diverse than ever, according to Willard.

 “As leaders in this industry, we all need to stand up against racism, mentor employees around us and continue to support and bring in talented and diverse leaders,” she says. “We’ve made some specific commitments to focus our efforts and I look forward to seeing how our team continues to evolve and improve.”

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