DThe concert and event industry is suffering from Long Covid: This formulation is making the rounds and it actually describes the situation relatively well. Superficially, an encouraging picture emerges: the festival summer has begun, giant festivals such as Rock am Ring, Southside or Wacken are sold out and are back after a forced two-year break. Countless tour convoys – small and large – roll through the country and there is no longer any talk of corona-related capacity restrictions. Music fans are offered a wealth of concerts simply because of the many shows that have been rescheduled several times. Newly booked and long-term plans for 2022 are added – and that’s where the problems begin.
On the one hand, due to this oversupply, the events are fighting competition and viewers more than ever. In addition, some equipment is scarce because it is permanently out of stock and delivery bottlenecks also occur here. On the other hand, the industry lacks staff everywhere. Many specialists from the various trades, be they sound engineers, tour managers or the people working at heights, known as riggers, needed to set up and dismantle stage equipment, had to reorient themselves in the course of the crisis and are no longer available or no longer available full-time. There is also the risk of a concert or tour being canceled due to a corona infection – whether on the crew or artist side.
Higher costs, difficult advance booking
None of these points come as a complete surprise to the industry. On the contrary, it had been clear for months that the new start would be complicated under these conditions, despite various funding programs. But the consequences of the war, such as the ubiquitous increase in costs due to high inflation and especially energy prices, make it even more difficult.
“In all areas, costs have not only increased, but have even doubled in some cases,” says Jens Michow, Executive President of the Federal Association of the Concert and Event Industry (BDKV). In addition, “most of the concert and tour events are not nearly sold out, the halls are often only half occupied.” While concerts by superstars and major festivals usually continue to move – advance bookings for the Bruce Springsteen Tour 2023 even came recently Ticketmaster’s website in trouble – reveals a very mixed picture. “Regular shows are much weaker than before Corona,” says Martin JV Müller. Concerts by newcomers often sell particularly poorly, states the artistic director of the Karlstorbahnhof cultural center in Heidelberg. The recent queer festival with the artist Peaches on the stage, on the other hand, was very well attended.