‘There’s Never Been Such A Strong Endorsement Of Live Music’: Q’s With Impact International Honoree John Reid

John Reid.
– John Reid.
President Live Nation EMEA.

The UK seems to be back in full swing. Outside the U.S., there’s been no other country that’s seen as many full-capacity shows and festivals over the summer. 

The situation in mainland Europe varies, depending on each country’s reopening strategy and vaccine rollout. Overlooking it all is John Reid, President Live Nation EMEA, and he can see that “progress is happening.”
Pollstar: The UK is opening back up. The rest of Europe is a patchwork rug, when it comes to the state of reopening. It’s been 18 virtually event-less months. Describe your state of mind in the middle of 2021, please.
John Reid: It’s great to see the UK back in full swing with full capacity shows and festivals happening again. Timelines for full reopening in European markets vary, mainly depending on vaccine rollout, but progress is happening. Like everyone in our business I personally wish it was happening quicker, but there is real progress. 2022 feels like a monster return for us.
Our focus continues to be on working closely with governments and local authorities to show that we are ready to deliver the live events everyone fans and artists alike have been waiting for as soon as we are permitted.
Even with restrictions in place our teams have managed to think laterally and produce some great experiences. An amazing example of this is the Rock Werchter team in Belgium who put all their energy into creating a 28-show series at the festival park which saw a total of 63,000 fans at shows throughout July and August this year.
LN was instrumental in the UK’s pilot events taking place during lockdown. Do you think they’ve helped decision makers understand that event professionals know best how to handle crowds safely?
It is a fact that over the last year decision makers across the world have had to work more closely with live music industry professionals than ever before. We manage risks every day, it’s part of the promoter business model, and we’ve seen some governments understand that and value our expertise better than others. Pilot events for sure played a part in that journey as a real time example of how industry can pull together and showcase COVID-safety protocols.  
With pilot events in Paris, Barcelona, Liverpool (among others) all showing low transmission rates among attendees, the evidence gathered was relevant to policy makers across the world. The health and safety of our artists, fans and employees will always be our priority. 

Liam Gallagher performs at Reading Festival 2021. Aug. 29, 2021.
Joseph Okpako/WireImage
– Liam Gallagher performs at Reading Festival 2021. Aug. 29, 2021.
“Fans and artists are chomping at the bit to get back to live shows,” says Reid.

What are your main takeaways from this past year-and-a-half?

We are a resilient bunch. The industry can come together and work for the greater good. The importance of governments understanding the sector and what we contribute economically as well as to overall wellbeing and happiness is vital.
Hopefully all three of these takeaways will contribute to the industry coming back, not just as strong as it was, but stronger.
Any personal takeaways from the pandemic?
I’ve really missed travel and face to face interaction with colleagues and friends around the world, but equally I never thought I would be able to get so much done over Zoom!
What do you predict for the coming year?
The coming year will all be about how we ramp up. Fans and artists are chomping at the bit to get back to live shows, there’s never been such a strong endorsement of live music! 
You see it in the UK at the moment, where crowds are buzzing with excitement to be back in a venue/field. This pent-up demand creates a huge opportunity for us and we’ll be focusing on doing the best for our artists and fans when it comes to rescheduling and booking into 2022.
How do you foresee approaching sustainability going forward?
With the world focusing its attention on climate change more and more, and with COP26 later this year, sustainability must be at the forefront of everyone’s minds. The industry is very good at problem solving, as we’ve seen over the past months. Sustainability for live events is another area where we can pool resources and find solutions together.
Live Nation launched our global charter Green Nation two years ago, and we have been working to achieve the goals we set out since then. Earlier this year we announced our Green Nation Touring Program which empowers artists to choose sustainable alternatives when planning their tours – this has got to be the way forward.
What is your business philosophy?
Be straight with people.
What has been the most memorable concert of your life?
Beastie Boys/Run DMC in May 1987.
What’s the thing you love most in life? 
Eau Rouge flat out, without lifting (those that have been through there will understand).