Concert promoter Live Nation revealed Tuesday (19) that the company has furloughed 20% of their workforce. Affecting roughly 2,100 people, furloughed staffers will still have their company health insurance, but will not have a paycheck to go with it.
Live Nation had started furloughing staffers at Ticketmaster in April as part of $600 million in cost-cutting measures that also included CEO Michael Rapino forgoing his $3 million base salary, up to 50% pay cuts for senior executives, hiring freezes and elimination of discretionary spending, among other measures. Those furloughs are now reaching the parent company’s media and sponsorship & concert and venues divisions. Those affected called the furloughs “super surprising.”
In their recent quarterly earnings call, Rapino and Live Nation president Joe Berchtold did not mention any furloughs or cost-cutting measures, but still assured investors that the company could handle the burden. Said Berchtold at the time:
“We have $870 million in available cash, $900 million untapped, so that’s $1.7 billion in untapped liquidity to start with. So we can go through this year without doing any shows at scale without any concern, even though we’re not likely to have a huge volume of shows.”
The live music industry has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic with nearly all concerts in the next few months being either cancelled or postponed. That left companies like Live Nation and AEG scrambling to amend their refund policies and provide those who demanded it with their money back.
Rapino expects the concert industry to pick back up during the fourth quarter of 2020 and into 2021 as Live Nation explores new options for experiencing live music. Said Rapino during the earnings call:
“Over the summer there will be testing happening, whether it’s fan-less concerts, which offer great broadcast opportunities and are really important for our sponsorship business; drive-in concerts, which we’re going to test and roll out and we’re having some success with; or reduced-capacity festival concerts, which could be outdoors in a theater on a large stadium floor, where there’s enough room to be safe.”
Perhaps those furloughed will be back to work by then as well.