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Mix Blog Live: Big Dogs Follow Broadway

Just as it seemed the touring industry was ramping back up, many acts and events have hit the pause button, either postponing dates or adopting protocols for proof of vaccinations and/or a negative test within 72 hours of showtime.

As the live event industry continues clawing its way out of the depths of pandemic-induced depression, there are trends clearly emerging. 

The past few weeks have yielded a string of canceled shows due to band and/or crew members contracting Covid-19. Among the artists affected are REO Speedwagon, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Limp Bizkit, Counting Crows and Korn. Fortunately, we haven’t heard reports of anyone becoming seriously ill with the virus. 

Garth Brooks, BTS, Nine Inch Nails, Iron Maiden, Stevie Nicks, Alan Parsons, Roger Waters, Florida Georgia Line, Michael Bublé and the Deftones all have canceled 2021 dates, many voicing concern that their shows could spread the virus and/or the Delta variant. Festivals planned for the later part of 2021 that have now fallen off the calendar include Roskilde Festival 2021, Burning Man, Australia Bluesfest and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. 

In recent weeks the two big dogs in concert promotion, AEG Presents and Live Nation, made major announcements regarding attendance requirements for their venues. 

AEG Presents announced that proof of vaccination will be required for entry into the clubs, theaters and festivals it owns and/or operates. The policy will be in full effect nationwide as of October 1 and applies to patrons as well as staff. Some AEG venues are already implementing similar rules in accordance with local government vaccination mandates, while other venues are expected to do so in the weeks leading up to October 1. 

In the meantime, AEG Presents has enacted a policy requiring either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours for entry into an event. 

Similarly, Live Nation announced updated Covid safety protocols for all of its venues and events. Until now, artists have had the choice on a show-to-show basis whether or not to implement required proof of vaccination or a negative test. But the new rules will require proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test for entry to any Live Nation–owned and operated venue or festival in the U.S. this fall, with enforcement starting on October 4. 

Also, all Live Nation employees must be vaccinated by October 4 in order to visit any of the company’s offices, events or venues.

Live Nation’s plan is modeled after the Covid-19 protocols implemented for Lollapalooza 2021, which was held from July 29 – August 1 in Chicago’s Grant Park . It is estimated that 400,000 attended the festival over the four days, but Chicago Health Department officials have seen no indications that the festival was a “super-spreader”—a sign that perhaps the protocols are helping to prevent widespread transmission. 

The decisions by AEG Presents and Live Nation are similar to the manner in which Broadway is handling the situation, and they come as the Delta variant continues to spread throughout the U.S. It’s interesting to note that many artists (Phish, Trey Anastasio Band, Maroon 5, Dead & Company, The Killers, Foo Fighters), and festivals (Bonnaroo, Milwaukee Summerfest, Joshua Tree Music Festival, Electric Zoo, The Governors Ball) are implementing similar rules. It would appear that Broadway isn’t the only one concerned about protecting their investment.