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Don't Park So Close To Me: Socially-Distant Drive-In Concerts Could Be Coming, Live Nation Says

Is this the future of live concerts?
Is this the future of live concerts? Video Credit: Mads Langer

Drive-in concerts could soon be coming our way, according to entertainment giant Live Nation.

The idea was launched in Denmark, where native singer Mads Langer performed last month on a festival stage in front of 500 vehicles occupied by fans (see video above).

Electronic musician and YouTuber Marc Ribellet followed by announcing what would be the first-ever drive-in concert tour of the U.S.

“It’s important for us to keep doing drive-in concerts, which we’re going to test and roll out, which we’re having some success with,” Live Nation President/CEO Michael Rapino said on a recent reported investor earnings call.

One of the first musical bookings since mass gatherings were banned across the U.S. involves reduced-capacity divided seating.

SEE: Future Concerts Amid COVID-19: Try This On For Size

Several fans said economics make such shows impossible. Rapino disagreed.

“There are a lot of great artists that can sell out an arena,” he said, “but they’ll do 10 higher-end smaller theaters or clubs. We’re seeing lots of artists chomping to get back out once it’s safe.”

There could also be “fanless” concerts, Rapino said, as well as reduced capacity festivals, either in theaters, outdoors or “on a large stadium floor where there’s enough room to be safe.

“We have all of these plans in place depending on the market and where that local city may sit in their reopening phases,” he added.

All options have their own unresolved questions and concerns.

How, for instance, would concertgoers buy food, drinks and merchandise? Can they bring their own? What about bathrooms?

There’s also issues such as battery drain and exhaust depending on the weather – not to mention the quality of the audio, which will be fed to socially-distanced listeners via a limited FM signal.

New Orleans’ popular Rock’n’Bowl put its own twist on the approach, broadcasting live music on a giant screen in the club’s parking lot. That’s a start.

Live Nation -- which also owns Ticketmaster -- has seen its stock drop by nearly half while undergoing pay cuts and furloughs amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The situation has reached a point where a number of options must be considered, promoters say.

“Whether it’s in Arkansas or a state that is safe, secure and politically is fine to proceed in, we’re going to dabble in fanless concerts with broadcasts, we’re going to go and do reduced capacity shows because we can make the math work,” Rapino said.

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