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When will concerts return? An update...

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

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While re-opened restaurants and bars have begun hosting live music performances by local artists, larger-scale concerts at arenas, amphitheaters, stadiums, theaters and other venues are still on hold because of state restrictions on mass gathering and other pandemic health-related issues.

While they're on hold for the foreseeable future, recent developments in bringing concerts back include:

Executives for Live Nation and AEG, the world's two biggest concert promotion organizations, look to 2021 and even as late as the third quarter of the year for active resumption of tours and concerts. Both companies have been laying off or furloughing employees because of financial losses, while Live Nation continues to operate its Crew Nation charity to help behind-the-scenes workers.

A Michigan a task force has presented the governor's office with proposed guidelines for reopening venues and holding concerts and festivals, along with other leisure industries, ranging from capacity issues to sanitation protocols. The guidelines can be viewed at michigan.org/industry and as of this writing await approval from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's office. "We want to get these (guidelines) in the hands of businesses and communities," says Travel Michigan Vice-President Dave Lorenz, who oversaw the task force, "so they know what to do to prepare for operating their business. This is going to be a social compact between business operators, communities and customers. We will all need to play our own roles." He says a One Pure Michigan Pledge is also being established for businesses and patrons, outlining those responsibilities.

The governor's approval of the guidelines, however, will not necessarily mean an immediate return of concerts, in-person sports and other crowd events. Those are still considered to be part of the final phase of the state's reopening plan, with no set timetable.

Late-summer events such as the Detroit Jazz Festival, the Movement Music Festival and Royal Oak's Arts, Beats & Eats are still on the calendar, but will be subject to state and municipality decisions.

During the past week, the Coachella and Stagecoach festivals in California initially rescheduled to October and the Lollapalooza festival in Chicago were canceled. Janet Jackson canceled her Black Diamond World Tour 2020 and its July 24 stop at Detroit's Little Caesars Arena, while Harry Styles moved his tour to 2021 with a Sept. 20 visit to LCA.

A new report from the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), an organization formed to lobby for federal aid for operations shuttered by the pandemic, states that 90 percent of its 2,000 members in all 50 states are likely to close without assistance.

The situation is portrayed as equally dire in the U.K., where the Music Venue Trust, a similar lobby group, told a House of Commons committee that it's looking at a 70 percent loss of venues and production companies by the end of the year.

In New Orleans, bars and clubs have been allowed to reopen but live music remains prohibited for the time being.

The Australian government and music industry is bringing concerts back during November with a Great Southern Night series in Sydney, which will play under strict Covid-19safe guidelines. greatsouthernights.com.au.

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