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What Happens to the Money People Spend on Live Music but can’t Spend anymore because of the Pandemic?

From quarantine to the global economic recovery in 2023   Problem MIDiA Research’s Mark Mulligan recently posted a blog about the winners and losers of the current pandemic era. Mulligan

What Happens to the Money People Spend on Live Music but can’t Spend anymore because of the Pandemic?
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  • PublishedNovember 17, 2020

From quarantine to the global economic recovery in 2023




MIDiA Research’s Mark Mulligan recently posted a blog about the winners and losers of the current pandemic era. Mulligan specifically mentions Live Nation and Disney as the losers:

“Live Nation and Disney (because of its theme parks) were two of COVID-19’s biggest and highest-profile entertainment company casualties. Live Nation’s revenues fell from $3.2 billion in Q2 2019 to $74 million in Q2 2020, a 98% decline. Disney’s fall was less in relative terms (-38%) due to having a diversified business but more than double Live Nation’s loss in actual terms. Between them, Disney and Live Nation lost nearly $10 billion of revenue which can be bluntly equated with $10 billion of consumer entertainment spend that went unspent in Q2 2020. The big question is whether that spend remains dormant, waiting to be tapped when doors open again, or has it gone elsewhere – and if so, can it be won back.”

That is an important question: will we return to the amount of money people spent on live music? Moreover, will we get back to the growth that we were seeing year over year? And, related to this, what new spending must Live Nation – and all the smaller players – need to unlock from potentially new consumers?

The obvious answers

A week after Mulligan’s blog post, PWC, a worldwide provider of industry-focused auditing, tax and advisory services, released its update to the Global Entertainment and Media Outlook report, allowing us to find a potential way to answer the above questions.

First the bad news: 2020 will see an overal decline of 5.6% in overall entertainment and media revenues compared to 2019. The PWC press release mentions this is the sharpest decline in the 21 year history of the research. IQ Mag has seen that live music will generate ‘$10.4 billion dollar in 2020, down from nearly $29 billion dollar in 2019.’ As such recorded music will be more valuable to the overall music industry than live, growing to $30.4 billion dollar this year aided by a continuining growth of streaming music. This immediately shows where part of the money not spent on live music has gone, streaming subscriptions.

Another obvious goal of the money normally spent on live concerts will be plans to earn income through live streams and donations directly from fans. Tim Westergren told Music Ally about an artist who “recently made $ 10,000 by performing for just 300 viewers.” Similarly, artists now explore opportunities in the subscription system, driven by the growth of musicians in Patreon, let alone numerous other platforms in this field.

Opportunities in Games

This is probably two-way. On the one hand, there are examples of Travis Scott performing at Fortnite and Roblox who partnered with Monstercat and gave virtual concerts. On the other hand, artists have a participation in the gaming industry, especially in the e-sports industry. For investors – and Twitch viewers etc. – Given its spending and the projected growth of 9% to 15% for the video game industry in the PWC report, there is a significant opportunity for the music industry to earn some of the money not spent on live events from gaming channels.

Other Opportunities: VR (Virtual Reality)

Is the mass adoption of virtual reality about to be commonplace now? This may happen with the newly announced Oculus Quest 2. Moreover, according to the PWC report, VR will be the best performing medium in the next five years with the pandemic.


This chart offers a bright future for those like Wave and MelodyVR, and the opportunity for artists to enter this area that is just beginning to grow. For example, Tom Grennan was the first artist to participate in MelodyVR’s 2 October event series. And Tidal got together with Oculus to give a series of three-dimensional concerts. Demand for content will increase as there will be more to consume and as VR equipment continues to meet consumers’ needs. And this content will be easier to create, at least from an augmented reality perspective, as social platforms tend to cross-reality experience. As noted in a recent article on eMarketer, augmented reality experiences have come to the fore in Snapchat. Artists became the main community benefiting from augmented reality(AR) as an extension of their music videos to interact with their fans.


Overall, PWC predicts live music revenues will return to 2019 levels in 2023. This analysis seems to coincide with the analysis of Lisa Yang of Goldman Sachs, who recently said that the global concert industry will recover by 2022, despite losing about 75% of its value this year. However, it is important to note that consumer habits may have changed permanently, and the recession may force people to make tough choices: People may be more preoccupied with questions like, “Concert or eat out?”, “Have fun at the festival or a holiday?” than before.

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Welcome to Techno Airlines! I'm Dragoman, your captain of beats and curator of all things fancy, original and creative in the world of techno music. Join me as we explore mind-bending DJs, electrifying festivals, and groundbreaking sounds that will take you on a sonic adventure like no other. Fasten your seatbelts and get ready to dance, dream, and discover the extraordinary.

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