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Live music

Live Will Survive - But we have a long journey ahead of us

For the first piece of our music industry series, we’ve attended a talk by Jens Michow, founder of the German Federal Association of the Event Industry (BDKV), speaking about the future of live music. The live music sector is without doubt one of the industries that has been hit the hardest by the pandemic and understanding its future is important for all artists, industry players as well as brands to start planning ahead.

The Events Industry Perspective

The picture Michow painted with his talk at Berlin’s Most Wanted Music conference was both dire and optimistic. “Live Will Survive” was the title statement, but the path is still long and challenging. He doesn’t expect a full recovery until 2-3 years from now and outlines this journey in three stages: Survival – Rebuild – Growth & Expansion.

Short-term: Survival The current focus is without doubt on survival and making it through the crisis. Live events are still restricted and even post lockdown, larger events and tours will be close to impossible due to differing measures locally, regionally and internationally. In this phase it’s particularly grassroots venues and emerging artists that are under threat and need our support. Michow expects this phase to last until early 2022.

Mid-term: Rebuild Michow expects larger scale events and tours to be able to restart in mid 2022, but believes they will be far from profitable yet. Production costs will have increased driven by extra health & safety measures as well as additional growing demand for sustainability, while capacities may still be limited. But there will be room to innovate and gradually rebuild and recover.

Long-term: Growth & Expansion In the long run, live entertainment will be stronger than ever before. Michow is certain of that and ends the talk on a hopeful note. Growth and expansion will be driven by multiple factors – by the fact that people simply miss and long for live music and the real human connection that comes with it, by necessary innovation over the next few years, and by consolidation of the market. It’s likely that the next few years will make already strong players even stronger while independents may struggle. 

In summary, the good news is the events sector will come out stronger on the other side. The sad news is that the diversity of the market and its artistic genres, independent music festivals and grassroots venues are at high risk of getting lost along the way. Supporting and helping to save those at highest risk should be the prime focus of any brand and fan looking to give back to the music industry.

For the German speakers, check out the full talk by Jens Michow followed by a panel discussion on the Most Wanted Music YouTube channel.