Drive-in concerts 'a trend we'll see for a while' as coronavirus counts keep rising

While the entertainment sector has been hit hard by coronavirus, concerts are making a comeback.

In particular, the drive-in concept is becoming more popular among the music industry. Encore Live announced last month they were launching a new concert series, “Encore Drive-In Nights,” that will kick off with stars Blake Shelton, Gwen Stefani and Trace Atkins.

In an interview with Yahoo Finance last week, Founder and CEO Walter Kinzie said that he believes this idea will be the best way for artists to connect to their fans during the pandemic.

“I think this is going to be a trend that we're going to see for quite a while,” Kinzie said. “This is a safe way for fans to come together.”

Encore Live has produced one drive-in show so far during the pandemic — a Garth Brooks performance on June 27 that drew over 350,000 across more than 300 drive-in theaters across North America.

The “wildly successful” event was taped without an audience at a Nashville soundstage weeks before the viewing, according to Kinzie.

“There's not a stadium or arena in the United States that can hold 350,000 people,” Kinzie said. "Garth is the absolute greatest and one of the most loved entertainers of all time. So I'm not surprised by the showing of his fan base but it was a very overwhelming evening as I was watching the numbers continue to track in.”

‘Never interact with a single human being’

Prior to COVID, PwC estimated that the global live music sector would reap $29 billion in ticket sales and sponsorship revenue. However, after the pandemic hit, the sector is only expected to see $7 billion in total business, according to Midia Research.

Social distancing and mask-wearing are still the order of the day. With that in mind, Encore Live designed the concert series to be compliant with public health guidelines.

“The way we've got our show set up ... you could quite literally leave your home and never have to interact with a single human being, you don't have to roll down your window, we have a touchless ticket system,” Kinzie said.

“And so this is a completely safe way you could even stay in quarantine, and still go out to the drive in and watch world class entertainment,” he added.

With no end to the pandemic in sight, Kinzie said Encore Live plans to expand its lineup to include other music genres as the series continues.

“The country music entertainers happen to be the most nimble right out of the gate and able to get these shows recorded for us,” he said. “But as our tour expands through August and September and into the fall, you're going to see a mix of a lot of different genres.”

Entertainment giant Live Nation is launching its own drive-in concert series this weekend.

"It’s exciting to see,” Kinzie said. “They have so many arenas and amphitheaters that are sitting empty right now.”

Overall, Kinzie said these drive-in concerts are going to help lift not only the music industry, but other local businesses as well.

“We're helping to light the music industry, but you think about small towns and it's not just the ticket for the entertainment, they're buying gas, they're shopping at the local stores, eating food,” he said. “And so, it's been a nice resurgence to small town U.S.A. and we're proud to be a part of it.”

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