Whiplash for Concert Business While Delta Variant Rages


Artists began to squeeze circles around them to reduce their risk on the road. Dead & Company, which includes the surviving members of the Grateful Dead, announced this week that its new tour, which kicks off Monday, will require fans to get vaccinated or show negative tests. But the group also circulated a “tour protocols” document among its team that said no guests – not even family members other than the band members’ spouses – were allowed to enter a “tour bubble” surrounding the group.

‚ÄúThis is not a guest, there is no transit tour. No exceptions,” says the six-page document The New York Times verified.

For many artists, deciding whether to go ahead can involve difficult calculations of the thin financial margins of a tour and the possibility that someone from their environment will catch the virus. While touring is often an artist’s biggest source of income, production costs – hiring equipment and trucks, hiring a crew – can be heavy and often consume most of an artist’s advance payment from an promoter.

“Five gigs for a 40-day tour could represent the tour’s entire profit margin,” said Sam Hunt of Wasserman Music agency. “So if an artist has to cancel five of these shows, it’s break-even at best, and if they miss six, they lose money. Some artists may be more willing to take those risks than others.”

For now, most of things are progressing as planned, keeping their hopes up on instillation and pent-up demand from fans. Live Nation said in June that its United States concert division sold tickets to more shows than in any other month in its history.

Omar Al-joulani, the company’s vice president of tours, said Live Nation still expects a strong return to tours in 2022 and cancellations so far are not cause for concern. “There will always be isolated cases of cancellation,” he said, “but I don’t see any of them on a large scale.”

Still, Al-joulani added that the company is ready to change its plans as needed.

“What we’ve learned over the past year,” he said, “is to be really flexible.”


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