With the possibility of a COVID vaccine seemingly increasing, the news comes as a great relief to concert venues, which have been struggling during the pandemic, and with many venues closing permanently. Ticketmaster is already planning for the possibility that venues might begin opening back up in 2021 with a new system that would require ticket buyers to prove they had been vaccinated.
Billboard outlines the process, which is still in early development, and would seem to only be used when using the Ticketmaster app. After a concert-goer bought a ticket through Ticketmaster, the purchaser would have to provide evidence that they had either received the COVID vaccine or tested negative for COVID-19 within 24 to 72 hours of the show, the length of which would depend on the regional mandates.
Once the ticket buyer has taken the test, the results would be sent to a health pass company, who would then verify the person’s status to Ticketmaster. If the person tested positive or had not taken the theoretical COVID vaccine, they would not be allowed into the venue. Ticketmaster has also stated that they would not store the buyer’s medical records, and that the process would change depending on the state.
While it’s not clear how other venues or ticket-selling services plan on changing their policies with our without a COVID vaccine, Ticketmaster making such a gigantic move would likely lead the industry going forward. Ticketmaster has become a behemoth of the industry over the last decade, merging with Live Nation in 2009, and has spent the last few years purchasing smaller ticketing platforms, such as Universe, Front Gate Tickets, and UPGRADED.
Earlier this year, Ticketmaster received quite a bit of negative press for making it hard for ticket buyers to receive refunds for events that had been delayed or canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Considering there’s no COVID vaccine yet, Ticketmaster’s attempts to limit refunds make sense from the company’s perspective, considering the lack of new revenue. Last week, Live Nation announced a third-quarter loss of $504 million. Last year, Live Nation posted a profit of $260 million.
Yet without a viable COVID vaccine, many venues have struggled to stay afloat. This has especially been true of smaller, independent venues, who would have a harder time with social distancing and safe openings than larger venues. The National Independent Venue Association is calling for Congress to pass the Save Our Stages Act, which asks for COVID-19 assistance in order to save these small businesses from closing.
The Save Our Stages Act would provide money for venues that will almost certainly close without a COVID vaccine, leaving tens of millions of employees of those venues jobless. The act has been supported by such musicians as Foo Fighters, Billie Eilish, Phoebe Bridgers, and hundreds of other artists and performers.
Regardless of whether or not a COVID vaccine appears in the near future, concert venues are going to have to evolve to keep up with our changing world. Ticketmaster’s attempts to make a safer environment for concertgoers could be a step in the right direction to bringing back live entertainment.