In the first of several cost-saving measures, Ticketmaster has furloughed a quarter of its North American workforce, totaling hundreds of employees. This act marks the first mass furlough by a Live Nation-owned concert company as the COVID-19 pandemic ravages the music industry. A representative from Ticketmaster confirmed to Live For Live Music that despite the furloughs, no employees have been laid off.
Additional action is expected as Ticketmaster enacts a $500 Million cost reduction strategy to cope with falling revenue streams. According to Billboard, the furloughs came as a surprise to many Ticketmaster employees who were assured that the company was exploring every option available to avoid staff cuts. Staring down the barrel of a full year—or more—without live events seemingly left Ticketmaster with very few options.
Live Nation initially announced the furloughs in an SEC filing on April 13th. The filing claimed Live Nation planned to save money by eliminating “The use of contractors, rent re-negotiations, furloughs, and reduction or elimination of other discretionary spending.”
Company officials also told Billboard that furloughed employees will still receive health benefits and will receive a one to three-week payout.
While the live events industry is hardly the only area of the economy to face downturn amid the coronavirus pandemic, few have been hit as hard. Due to the social nature of the industry—seeing thousands gather for music or sporting events on a nightly basis—even after restrictions are eased, live events are unlikely to return as quickly as other activities. Coupled with the billions of dollars worth of ticket sales companies like Live Nation are now returning to consumers, furloughs seem even less surprising. Just last week, Live Nation rolled out a new “Ticket Relief Plan” which guarantees refunds for canceled and postponed events. This came just days after AEG offered a similar plan.
As the industry outlook becomes bleaker with each passing day, news like this will seem less surprising. Here’s to hoping that aggressive government action and mass engagement in social distancing and self-quarantine guidelines quell the spread of coronavirus and the live events industry returns to a sense of normalcy soon.