Bob Roux, President of U.S. Concerts, Live Nation
As president of U.S. Concerts at Live Nation Entertainment, Bob Roux oversees all of the division’s businesses in the United States, which means every Live Nation club, theater, and amphitheater, along with many of the LN festivals, and all arena shows under the Live Nation banner, are under Roux’s watch, along with the thousands of shows they present.
A veteran of untold thousands of concerts, both as a fan and a presenter, Roux has been with Live Nation and its predecessors since 1990, and has largely been steering U.S. concerts for more than a decade. Prior to his appointment to Divisional President of U.S. Concerts in January of 2018, Roux held the position of Co-President of U.S. Concerts at Live Nation, overseeing the Western Region of the United States. He is based in Houston, Texas.
In his first interview since the industry shut down over a year ago, Roux spoke with Pollstar as he plows ahead ramping up a massive live music machine that is on the verge of running full steam ahead, coast-to-coast, as American music fans, including Roux, resume their passionate love affair with live music.
Ray Waddell: During the pandemic shutdown of 2020, Live Nation rather quietly went through a rather significant re-org of its U.S. operations. Tell me what you can about the re-org and how it will impact operations in North America.
Bob Roux: The merger last summer of our Theater & Clubs Division with U.S. Concerts allowed us to build a totally unified organization that guarantees all of the company’s best practices within booking, marketing and venues will be deployed for each and every artist and show, no matter the venue’s capacity. In addition, it allowed for our younger promoters and other crucial and talented personnel throughout the organization to grow seamlessly with their artist relationships as their careers and audiences expand. It also unlocked more opportunities for promotions and new leadership roles, resulting in the most diverse team we have ever had, which has been a focus for us.
Given the low number of refunds for tours that were postponed, and the success of the events that have opened to the public recently, are you optimistic about fans turning out for concerts once we’re up and running?
Yes, initial ticket sales for the new shows that we have recently put on sale are quite encouraging. The daily ticket sales for our shows rescheduled from 2020 to 2021 have been ramping up steadily since January, and now, four months later, the weekly sales are stronger than normal for the vast majority of our shows.
In terms of overall activity, do you anticipate 2022 to be on par or above what we saw in 2019 for Live Nation concerts?
Current tracking indicates that Live Nation Concerts will be above 2019 annual show levels in 2022. There is an unparalleled combination of artists who had 2020 and/or 2021 tours now rescheduled for 2022, in addition to artists who were already planning to be on tour in 2022 and are now routed to do so. All of these factors will have a strong impact on the pipeline for 2022 as artists and fans get ready to unite at shows once again.
Do you feel positive about staffing up across the various divisions to be ready for a full go live business? I’m hearing about challenges in putting together capable touring teams of seasoned professionals as everybody ramps up at once.
No challenges I am personally aware of at this point. There are a lot of very, very capable and talented touring professionals who unfortunately went more than a year without work, and so far, so good on assembling touring teams. But, considering the volume of tours anticipated for 2022, I would be pro-active in hiring.
Most believe demand will be high, but so will traffic in the coming months, and potentially capacity will not be 100%, at least at first. How is Live Nation addressing this dynamic in terms of ticket pricing and promotions?
While the majority of our 2021 shows will take place in the last six months of this year, the overall show volume from July to December, and the current sales data, does not currently suggest we need to be concerned about the artists’ tickets being priced at historical levels. Sales are quite strong presently. It feels like the tailwinds of a strong and improving economy, combined with the numbers of quality artists touring this year, and the pent-up demand from audiences, will more than support normal ticket prices.
You’re a live music fan, and you go to a ton of shows, and can usually be found out front-of-house. What do you miss most about the live music experience, and what do you most look forward to?
The house lights going down, the artist’s intro song coming on the sound system—you know, Ray, like “Up on Cripple Creek” before Chris Stapleton—and listening to and enjoying the roar of the audience as their favorite artist takes the stage, knowing maybe you and your team played a small part in putting together a memorable evening that will be enjoyed forever by everyone there that night.