The pandemic has taken its toll on the live music industry in 2020, but what does the future hold as the end of the year nears? Pollstar and VenuesNow combined to ask the key questions to more than 1,350 live industry professionals in a newly published survey, with just over half of the respondents expecting a return to live venue shows next year.

The survey was conducted between Aug. 23 and Sept. 7, pulling from a cross-section of industry professionals. Nearly 24 percent work in the venue business, 17 percent came from the promoters and talent buyers, production and concert support made up 16 percent with nearly 11 percent made up from hybrid job titles.

When asked about the return of live music, 54.8 percent of the respondents felt that a full capacity return would occur in 2021, while another 30.6 percent expected full capacity shows to not come back until 2022.

Of that grouping, only two percent of those polled felt that full capacity shows would arrive by the first quarter. 12.5 percent put that return in the second quarter of the year. 27.8 percent felt that live shows could return in full capacity by the third quarter of the year, and 14.6 percent believed the fourth quarter was the most likely. 14.7 of the respondents admitted they "have no idea" of when live shows would return to full capacity.


The survey also addressed safety concerns, with 42.91 percent of those surveyed saying they would return to work immediately if health guidelines were followed, with an additional 17.6 percent stating they would return to work unconditionally. 31.33 percent flat out said no to returning to embark on a tour right now, and an additional 8.17 percent were "unsure."


Another key component of the survey addressed the viability of continuing amid the pandemic if conditions do not approve. 31.16 percent of respondents felt that their business could last another 10 to 12 months, while 23.92 percent put that time table at 4-6 months. 14.08 percent fell right in the middle at the 7 to 9 month range, making 69.16 percent feeling that they could remain in business between four months and the next year.


Other key stats from the survey reveal that 75.2 percent feel the government has not given proper consideration to the plight of the live entertainment industry and more than 80 percent feel there will be an increase in cashless/touchless technologies moving forward.

While these are trying times, more than half of those surveyed suggested they have not considered leaving the live entertainment business and less than three percent have already taken on a new job outside of the live entertainment business.

"We embarked on this survey project with the goal of taking the pulse of an industry that has not only been hammered by the pandemic like few others, but also to discover their views on the social unrest from their unique perspective as purveyors of the cultural touchstone that is live entertainment," said Ray Waddell, president of OVG Media & Conferences, which includes Pollstar and VenuesNow. "While clearly there is a lot of angst and concern regarding the realities of both our social issues and the future business of live, there is also much hope and optimism that this industry we love can not only return to greatness, but also return as a more diverse and equitable business than ever before. We thank all those who participated in this unprecedented survey."

You can check out the Pollstar / VenuesNow survey in full at this location.

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