While the industry has gone to great, inventive lengths to survive in the age of social distancing, it has been clear since the beginning of the pandemic that live music would not be able to return to any semblance of the “old normal” until the coronavirus is effectively contained. Pharmaceutical company Pfizer delivered some promising news on that front on Monday when it announced that “an early analysis of its coronavirus vaccine trial suggested the vaccine was robustly effective in preventing COVID-19.”
We still need to wait for further review of the results and review of its long-term safety, not to mention carry out the actual task of administering a vaccine to a critical mass of people. However, the existence of a vaccine would represent something of a “light at the end of the tunnel” for live music leading into 2021.
A report by Billboard on Wednesday outlined what ticketing giant Ticketmaster is doing to develop a “framework for post-pandemic fan safety that uses smart phones to verify fans’ vaccination status or whether they’ve tested negative for the coronavirus within a 72 hour window.” The vaccine/testing framework/technology being discussed would be offered by Ticketmaster as an option for individual event organizers on a case-by-case basis. The general goal of the system, according to the report, “is for fans to take care of vaccines and testing prior to the concert and not show up hoping to be tested onsite.”
The plan, per Billboard, would be comprised of three main components: “the Ticketmaster digital ticket app, third party health information companies like CLEAR Health Pass or IBM’s Digital Health Pass, and testing and vaccine distribution providers like Labcorp and the CVS Minute Clinic.”
If approved, the system being discussed would require ticket-buyers to either verify that they have been vaccinated (which would provide roughly one year of COVID-19 protection) or show proof of a negative coronavirus test between one and three days prior to the concert, depending on local/regional health guidelines.
If going the testing route, ticket-holders would instruct the lab to deliver their negative results to their health pass company (i.e. the aforementioned entities like CLEAR or IBM). If the ticket-holder’s vaccine/testing status meets the requirements, the health pass company would confirm their COVID-19 status to Ticketmaster, which would then issue the ticket-buyer the required credential for entry to the event.
As Billboard notes, “Ticketmaster would not store or have access to fans’ medical records and would only receive verification of whether a fan is cleared to attend an event on a given date. Different states will have different requirements. The main role of companies like health pass companies will be to collect data from testing and medical providers and deliver status updates to partner companies in a secure, encrypted way that complies with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).”
As Ticketmaster president Mark Yovich explained to Billboard, “We’re already seeing many third-party health care providers prepare to handle the vetting—whether that is getting a vaccine, taking a test, or other methods of review and approval—which could then be linked via a digital ticket so everyone entering the event is verified. Ticketmaster’s goal is to provide enough flexibility and options that venues and fans have multiple paths to return to events, and is working to create integrations to our API and leading digital ticketing technology as we will look to tap into the top solutions based on what’s green-lit by officials and desired by clients.”
Ticketmaster is also working on implementing a digital ticketing technology which would eliminate paper tickets as well as its new SmartEvent system, which aims to help event organizers and attendees “manage social distancing, delayed entry and provide possible opportunities for contact tracing.” Read more about Ticketmaster’s SmartEvent system here.
As Marianne Herman, the co-founder and principal reBUILD20, which focuses on helping entertainment and live events companies develop COVID-19 strategies, told Billboard, “In order for live events to return, technology and science are going to play huge roles in establishing integrated protocols so that fans, artists, and employees feel safe returning to venues. Integrating ticketing platforms with the guests’ verified testing results is one key way to reimagine how we’re going to get fans back to live events. The experience of attending live events will look completely different, but innovation married with consistent implementation will provide a framework to get the live sports and event industry back to work.”
Correction: An earlier version of this article used the headline, “Ticketmaster Reportedly Developing Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccine, Testing Guidelines For Concert Attendance.” That is potentially misleading. Ticketmaster is developing this framework for event promoters to employ if they choose, but the company does not have the power to set policies surrounding security/safety requirements, which include vaccine/testing protocols.