Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles Going to a concert or watching a play at the theatre is one of the best ways to unwind. But live entertainment, like many of the things we used to take for granted is one of the biggest casualties of the pandemic. So, are virtual replacements enough, and when will we be able to watch a popular musical on Broadway again or even just to party? Towards the end of 2020, more than 10,000 electronic dance music fans gathered in Taipei for the Ultra Music Festival, with international acts in the line-up, including Swedish DJ Alesso and Kayzo from the U.S. In a normal year, this would be one of the thousands of music festivals worldwide, but 2020 is anything but. From concerts to bar music and festivals, the live entertainment industry depends heavily on social interaction. The concert and live event industry in the U.S. alone generated $34 billion in 2019. That was mostly gone this year with more than 220 global large-scale live performances, festivals and concerts either canceled or postponed to 2021. One of the first festivals to cancel their 2020 rendition was Tomorrowland, the biggest electronic dance music festival in the world, held in Belgium. In 2019, more than 2 million people worldwide registered for the 400,000 tickets available. The 2017 edition contributed about $120 million to the Belgium economy. Michiel Beers, who founded Tomorrowland with his brother Manu in 2005, explains the impact of the pandemic on festivals like his. This year, we lost over 90% of our turnover for a full year. Entertainment is one of the sectors that is hurt the heaviest, because especially for festivals, we prepare a whole year for one weekend. We felt in everything that summer was not going to be realistic. And we spoke with the government, with a lot of virologists. Tomorrowland, you really build a city. That takes so many people to build. It's our responsibility to act on time for all the stakeholders, from visitors to suppliers to governments. Other high-profile festivals canned in 2020 include Summerfest and Coachella. The organizer of California-based Coachella plans to stage either a limited-capacity comeback in April 2021 or a higher-capacity festival in October. The options are limited for organizers, Tomorrowland's Michiel said. Everything we do is built on a large scale. And if we were to scale it down to a 5,000 capacity or 10,000 capacity festival, with the budgets that come along, then it's not Tomorrowland and it's better for the brand not to do it. A vaccine isn't a cure-all, and even with one, life as we know it will likely change forever. With that in mind, will more companies shift their events online? In July 2020, more than 1 million virtual visitors attended the first online edition of Tomorrowland. After its first digital music festival, Tomorrowland Around the World, the organizers created an online entertainment venue, Naoz, to host similar virtual events in the future. The next event on Naoz is the 2021 New Year's Eve Party, with tickets starting from $24. A real music experience, with lasers, fireworks, lights. Bringing real artists with a real show in a virtual environment. Another virtual event organizer is Open Pit, which creates virtual festivals on gaming platforms Minecraft, and Twitch. The setup is run by volunteers and allows participants to create avatars, encouraging interaction with the performers. Despite our events being in Minecraft, I'd say that we don't actually really cater to gamers that much. It is more like online music fans. Definitely, we noticed that mainstream festivals, big companies, brands, all of that, really didn't take it seriously before it was kind of the only option. As far as the mainstream is concerned, they'll continue trying to figure out ways to exist in the space until live events come back. You know, the underground space will always be here and has been here long before Covid. And I think live shows will never be able to replace that. Even street performers are busking online, using live-streaming apps like Bigo Live and Busk.co. Viewers can send tips to performers through virtual currencies or e-payment platforms like Apple and Android Pay. The live entertainment industry is a significant driver of tourism and jobs, especially for freelancers. Nowhere is this more pronounced than in Broadway and the West End, home to some of the most popular theatres in the world. New York City's 41 Broadway theatres will remain closed at least until May of 2021, since their closures in March. The 2018-2019 Broadway season grossed over $1.8 billion and hosted nearly 15 million theatregoers. They brought in $14.7 billion for New York City's economy and supported close to 97,000 local jobs. Likewise, London's West End theatres went dark in March. Although there were plans for socially-distanced shows in September, the theatres were forced to close again indefinitely following a second lockdown. The West End is a ghost town at the moment. We don't know when that's going to come back. Because it's not just tourism, it's businesses as well. The West End normally takes in about 800 million pounds a year in terms of box office revenue. That has all essentially stopped overnight. According to a study, revenues for the United Kingdom's music, performance and visual arts industry may fall by as much as $14.7 billion compared to 2019. In July 2020, the UK government poured $2 billion to support the arts sector, which includes theaters, music venues and independent cinemas. But that doesn't extend to freelancers. About 70% of the UK theatre industry is freelance. There are thousands of people working in theatre, whether they are technicians, marketing, accountants, a large proportion of those have been without support since March. A number of funds have been set up by the industry to try and support freelancers. The most high-profile of those is the one set up by Sam Mendes, he's obviously a world-famous director. It's emergency funding, it is not going to solve the whole situation. I think it will definitely be a smaller industry on the other side, and it will be a long road to recovery, even after all of the current regulations are lifted. As live entertainment organizers explore opportunities online, what's the future for performing arts venues? Although lockdowns worldwide have led to a rise in the availability and consumption of recorded performances, theatre shows were already online even before Covid-19. Besides platforms like Broadway Unlocked and Digital Theatre, London's National Theatre has run National Theatre Live since 2009, with performances filmed live and either broadcasted simultaneously or on a delayed basis, depending on the time zones. Its productions are now screened in more than 2,500 venues in 60 different countries, including Singapore. Singapore's national performing arts centre Esplanade has also started to step up the digitalization of its programs, but the hope is to join the likes of Taiwan and South Korea, which have resumed live performances, including running the famed musical Phantom of the Opera. To see the arts in a public space is a signal to society that, let's try to work together and celebrate being together in a public space, so I do see it as somewhat symbolic. When we are in a hall like this, what we have decided to do with the government, in each zone, there will be a maximum of 50. You could come with your partner or your friends up to a group of 5. The ticketing process already bubble-wraps you. If you chose these two seats, the system then keeps the seats around you within a certain distance empty. We are definitely down 10-15% from a revenue point of view. In a time like this, perhaps audiences who have only watched movies online, will not see the difference between watching a movie and watching a theatre production. And as a result of that, grow to learn about another new art form. Unlike retail shops or restaurants, which can shift their products online relatively easily, it's nearly impossible to replicate the live entertainment experience online. And even with a vaccine, there are no guarantees that the industry will be able to raise their curtains for a comeback. The pleasures of being in a theatre, that quiet that you can have, these are all things we know that are very precious about the arts. And hopefully, there's a renewed appreciation for what's so special about sitting in a concert hall or sitting in the theatre. Hi, everyone. We'd love to know how you're getting your live entertainment online. Do subscribe if you've enjoyed this video, and thanks for watching. Stay safe.