The co-founder of the Lollapalooza music festival has painted a grim picture of live music in the era of COVID-19, suggesting that concerts are unlikely to be back in full force until 2022.
“My guess is late ’21, more likely ’22,” Marc Geiger told music industry analyst and critic Bob Lefsetz on “The Lefsetz Letter” podcast. “The whole thing’s a shit show.”
Geiger went on to explain that the world was currently gripped by what he called a “germophobia economy,” equating it to “a very long forced timeout.”
“In my humble opinion, it’s going to be ’22,” he said. “It’s going to take that long before what I call the ‘germophobia economy’ to be slowly killed off and be replaced by what I call the ‘claustrophobia economy,’ which is when everybody wants to get out and go out to dinner and have their lives and go to festivals and shows…. In my instinct, that’s just going to take a while because, as you can see, these super-spreader events ― sports, shows, festivals, anything ― ain’t going to do too well when the virus is this present.”
Geiger added that the coronavirus pandemic was “economically destructive” and predicted a “massive amount of bloodshed [and] bankruptcies” in the music industry, citing roadblocks such as spacing, density, insurance and the “infinite liability” of COVID-19 that would prevent live music events from returning to their former glory anytime soon.
When asked about drive-in concerts, Geiger called them a “gimmick” and a “temporary stopgap solution.”
The music executive acknowledged that there were positives in the world “taking a pause,” however, citing potential improvements in climate, pollution and traffic.
“This is bigger than us,” Geiger said. “If you study history, things like this have happened in history and been super disruptive to normal society, so here’s a biggie for our lifetime.”
The head of the William Morris Endeavor Entertainment (WME) music division until June, Geiger oversaw booking for artists including Lady Gaga to Nine Inch Nails.
Prior to his WME career, Geiger and fellow booking agent Don Muller assisted singer Perry Farrell and drummer Stephen Perkins of Jane’s Addiction with conceiving Lollapalooza in 1990. In 2019, the long-running Chicago music festival was estimated to bring in $5 million in revenue for the city annually.
Listen to Marc Geiger’s full podcast appearance here.
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