Live Nation, Still Without Concerts, Has Lost $300 Million in 2021 So Far

After a year of no concerts or festivals, nearly non-existent revenues have become the norm for concert giant Live Nation Entertainment’s quarterly reports. On Thursday afternoon, Live Nation posted figures for the first quarter of 2021 similar to those of the past three — with the company reporting a 79 percent drop in year-over-year Q1 revenue. 

Overall revenue for the first quarter was $290 million, and the company — which owns both promotion giant Live Nation and ticketing giant Ticketmaster — lost $145 million from its concert business and and $120 million in ticketing. Live Nation lost about $300 million in the quarter overall.

While Live Nation’s current numbers are expectedly low, in a time where its core business is still shut down by government orders and a global pandemic, the company says it has enough cash on hand to support its burn rate. And as vaccination rates increase across the U.S. and around the world, Live Nation is slowly shifting its attitude from one of just weathering the storm to an eagerness about the return of live music. Assuming Covid rates continue to fall while vaccination rates rise, Live Nation expects some shows to resume as early as summer, with more in the fall and end of the year. 

Still, given the lead time artists need to prepare and promote larger arena tours, most of those shows are slated for 2022, at which point Live Nation says it expects a lucrative post-pandemic touring cycle. Live Nation says it has confirmed twice as many major tour dates for 2022 than in 2019, along with higher sponsorship commitment and more Ticketmaster clients. 

Despite the low earnings the company reported on Thursday, Wall Street appears confident in Live Nation’s long-term strength after the pandemic ends, given the pent-up consumer demand for live music and the sizable power Live Nation holds over the space. At press time, Live Nation’s stock was sitting at about $75 a share; while that’s $16 lower than when its  all-time high of $91 in March, today’s share price is still higher than it was at any point before the pandemic even began.

Live Nation instituted several cost-cutting measures throughout Covid-19. Those include layoffs and furloughs, and CEO Michael Rapino voluntarily forwent his salary. The latter measure was short-lived, however: Live Nation’s recently filed proxy report shows Rapino’s salary was reinstated a few months later at a limited capacity, giving him a $1.6 million payout for the year along with $216,000 in travel allowances during the pandemic.

With concerts sidelined, Live Nation has poured more resources into digital offerings such as livestreaming. It bought a majority stake in Joel and Benji Maddens’ livestreaming platform Veeps at the beginning of the year, announced a virtual series set to begin this month, and outfitted 60 physical venues from across the country with livestreaming tech. But Rapino has told investors he isn’t sure yet whether livestreaming is a viable business of its own, or just another feature that can be added on for its artists.

This story will be updated following Live Nation’s after-the-bell earnings call with analysts.

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