Live Nation Entertainment CEO Michael Rapino told CNBC on Thursday that its US concert business is now “fully open” as it is bringing back its jam-packed summer lineup after more than a year of pandemic disruption.
It comes as public health officials have become increasingly concerned about the highly transmittable Delta-Covid variant and urge people to get vaccinated to ensure a defense.
“We are very excited about the American market. You know, 70% of our business is going to be the US and the UK. These two markets seem to be on the right track, ”said Rapino at“ Power Lunch ”.
“In America we’re fully open at this point,” added Rapino, who joined Julia Boorstin of CNBC in Sun Valley, Idaho, where technology and media CEOs were returning for an influential annual conference after last year’s event due to Covid was canceled.
Live Nation, the owner of Ticketmaster, is hosting 30 full-capacity nationwide amphitheater tours starting this week, Rapino said. Later in July, Miami will host the Rolling Loud Festival, which will attract around 200,000 people. There will be 10-15 music festivals this summer, he said.
Rapino expects Live Nation’s European market to reopen later this summer and fall. Asia won’t be back in serious business until next year due to a delay in Covid vaccinations.
Live Nation won’t pack up shows to make up for the backlog in artist appearances created by the pandemic, Rapino said. Looking ahead to 2022 and 2023, artists would not appear “unless they have the weekends and the right cities and the right markets”.
“We’re going to make sure we don’t … do the four shows in a week and you have to choose one,” said the CEO. “We’re going to spread this out over a couple of years and a couple of markets. So we look at the pent-up demand as a lot of availability, but we’ll also make sure that the consumer has time to buy it.”
While the pre-pandemic “magic” of attending live shows has returned, Rapino said one aspect of the overhauled personal experience changing at Live Nation events is payments.
“We used Covid to build many infrastructure programs and products around Ticketmaster, but contactless was a big step that we accelerated,” said Rapino, who has been running Live Nation since 2005. “You are going to venues now and you will be able to get to that place, buy your ticket, buy the beer, buy the t-shirt contactless through your app over the web.”
Live Nation also acquired a majority stake in Veeps during the pandemic. Founded by two members of the rock band Good Charlotte, Veeps enables livestream shows with tickets that grew in popularity as artists searched for ways to connect with fans in the era of social distancing.
Rapino said he anticipates that virtual concerts will largely serve only as a “complementary product” for fans who cannot come to the live show.
Live Nation stocks closed 1.8% on Thursday, an overall negative day for Wall Street as investor concerns over the economic rebound weighed on the pandemic. Live Nation’s stock is up 11.7% year-to-date.