Up to 40 per cent of music fans in the UK aren’t showing up to gigs due to a rise in COVID cases, experts say.
Last week Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced new restrictions for the country due to a rise in cases of the Omicron variant, in measures dubbed ‘Plan B’.
Speaking to The Observer, a number of industry experts have discussed how huge numbers of ticket-holders to events, including gigs that have been sold out for months, are now deciding against attending.
Artist manager Graeme Stewart said that while “around 5 per cent” of fans would not show up for events they had tickets for in normal situations, “you’re getting as much as 40 per cent no-shows for some gigs now”.
“It’s an enormous problem,” he added. “And it’s happening for anything that’s ticketed.”
“It’s a big issue and it’s having a real knock-on effect,” Dublin-based promoter Will Rolfe concurred, agreeing with the 40 per cent drop-off figure that Stewart claimed.
“People are returning tickets a lot more frequently now than pre-pandemic,” Phil Hutcheon of ticket platform DICE said. “The pattern we have seen is that each time a show is moved, the person who bought the ticket is a lot less engaged about attending.”
Others commenting on the trend included Sacha Lord, night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester and Parklife Festival boss, who told The Observer: “We’re seeing a big drop-off, even at really hot, sold-out shows. It’s happening every single night, and it’s affecting all artists.”
He added: “The knock-on effects of this are phenomenal. It’s decimating the whole industry.”
Face masks are now required in cinemas and theatres, while COVID passes will be enforced for concerts and nightclubs from Wednesday (December 15), with a negative lateral flow test also being sufficient.
“It’s now the proportionate and responsible thing to move to Plan B in England, while continuing to work closely with our colleagues in the devolved administrations so we can slow the spread of the virus,” Johnson said in his speech to the nation.
These new measures have been heavily criticised by bodies across the live music industry. “The introduction of Plan B results in an unfair double standard that allows people to go on all-day pub crawls in crowded bars without having to prove their COVID-19 status, whilst live music venues get hit with certification,” said Greg Parmley, CEO of live music organisation LIVE.