Marc Geiger Says Live Music’s Recovery Will Be a ‘Roaring 20s’ of Prosperity

Veteran agent and former WME head of music Marc Geiger says the live-music business will rebound in a big way once the coronavirus pandemic recedes.

In a conversation with Goldman Sachs’ music specialist Lisa Yang at the International Festival Forum in London on Wednesday, Geiger said the “claustrophobia economy” of the pandemic will be replaced by “a second Roaring ‘20s, a hundred years later,” of economic growth, according to IQ.

He was referencing the giddy economic boom of the 1920s that followed World War I and the influenza epidemic, which killed dozens of millions of people. A long spell of “everyone being cooped up at home … created a joyous time called the Roaring ’20s,” estimated that in 2022, the pandemic will have receded, “everyone will be screaming to get out” of their homes, and prosperity will return.

Yang seconded that notion, saying that she believes the live-music industry, which she estimated has lost around 75% of its value in 2020, will recover around 65% of its pre-pandemic value next year and will fully recover in 2022.

While their words sounded a note of optimism for the live-entertainment industry, the current reality is grim: Agencies, promoters and managers have seen their income gutted, and some 90% of independent U.S. music predict they will go out of business without federal relief — Congress went on recess without voting on the Save Our Stages act, authored by Senators Amy Klobuchar (a Democrat) and John Cornyn (a Republican), which requests $10 billion in relief for independent venues.

However, in the meantime, “It’s going to be tough,” she cautioned. “There are so many external factors that no one can control. But from a structural perspective, I think the industry is going to come back – it’s not a question of if, but when.”

Geiger encouraged people in the live-entertainment industry to hunker down as much as possible until the tide begins to turn. “Everyone who’s suffering right now, if you can hold on – whether it’s through financing, debt, equity – the bumper crop will be significant,” he said. “Figure out how to bridge your way until the industry come back.”

“The market is going to come back at a very, very vast clip,” Geiger added, “and […] when it comes back rate of return will be huge. We’re going to see more blow-outs and sell-outs, and huge consumer interest. It’ll be one of few times in history the customer will buy a beer or a hot dog, and they’ll feel good about standing in line! And that beer will never have tasted so good.”

His optimism continued in an email conversation with IQ after the keynote. He encouraged promoters to “Produce a virtual festival in 2021. Tell your audience you are NOT coming back until it’s safe and they can have the ultimate experience. Get a sideshow strategy together if you don’t already have one. Go talk to sponsors and get serious about your at-home audience. Raise your ticket prices!!!!”

On Monday night, more than 2,000 buildings across the U.S., from the Empire State Building to Seattle’s Space Needle, lit up red in a show of support for the live-entertainment industry. In the meantime, here are ways you can help independent concert venues.


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