RECAP: Major Industry Players Come Together For ‘Reviving Live’ Pollstar Live Digital Roundtable
The Feb. 9 “Reviving Live” Live Week Pollstar Digital Session featured a roundtable of major industry players, including heads or co-heads of the major talent agencies like CAA (Rob Light), UTA (Samantha Kirby Yoh) and AGI (Marsha Vlasic) as well as major players on the promoter and venue side discussing all things live as the business looks to reopen.
Nederlander Concerts CEO Alex Hodges talked about the promoter/venue operator’s successes with drive-in shows, including a full tour with Andrew McMahon and the Wilderness, while Chase Center GM Kim Stone talked about the extensive efforts to make the San Francisco arena, home to the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, the safest venue in the U.S. That means being able to essentially flush out all the air in the arena at will, multiple times per hour, as indoor gathering rules take shape in the post-COVID era.
On the agency side, where a lot of the rescheduling and planning nightmare is taking place behind the scenes, strides have been made in branding and sponsorship deals, with some artists using 2020 to stay visible and make deals in other ways with live music being almost entirely shut down. But there is hope with the vaccine rollout and easing restrictions in multiple markets.
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“We have to feel our way through this and do what’s best for everybody so the industry can continue,” added Marsha Vlasic, whose longtime clients include Neil Young, Norah Jones, The Strokes, Cage The Elephant and many other major artists. ” We’re at a total standstill right now and need to get back to business, we need to figure it out.”
Rob Light, longtime head of music at CAA, commended the agency’s work over the last nine months, but admitted “Nothing replaces the arena tour.” He said he’s urged clients to realize the market will be crowded as things open back up, leaving fans in a position to have to choose how to spend their ticket dollars.
“I’ve said repeatedly to promoters and artists that nobody is going to make back what they lost over 2020,” Light said. “There’s going to be so many shows and opportunities for fans that they will have to make some choices. If we all go into this as ‘We gotta make it all back,’ we’re going to find ourselves in a tough position. We’re trying very hard to get people thinking about a two to three-year window, to get some health back into the system, and not in year one to try to take it all back in one fell swoop.”
Meanwhile, Kirby Yoh, who was recently named UTA co-head of music, stressed the importance of coming to terms with the “new normal,” whatever that may be, or become, as it happens.
In relation to large-scale destination concerts or festivals taking place, she said, “There’s going to be a new normal when living with the virus,” adding that just getting on a plane and attending an event will require multiple tests and logistical hurdles for fans. “Then you’re still going to be wearing masks and distancing for a certain extent. … There will be other variables” when doing shows this year, she says.
The session is part of Pollstar’s Live Week, which will see both Pollstar and VenuesNow’s flagship industry conferences combined for June 14-17, 2021, in Los Angeles. Reviving Live! will take place at the Beverly Hilton, marking a major step forward in the return of the global live entertainment industry with four days of critical in-person meetings, keynotes, panels and events.