The COVID-19 pandemic continues to rock the concert industry as ticketing giant Ticketmaster has furloughed a quarter of its employees in North America.
According to Variety, affected employees were notified of the decision in a message from Ticketmaster president Jared Smith.
“For the very first time in the history of live entertainment, the industry is completely shut down — something that a few short months ago would have seemed incomprehensible,” Smith explained.
“Since the beginning of this global crisis we have operated with the goal of staying true to our company’s core philosophy of ‘taking care of our own.’ This is why we continued to keep our team at full pay through March and April, even as the tens of thousands of events we support and sell ground to a halt.”
The company president described the move to furlough hundreds of employees as “the hardest decision I have faced in my tenure leading this great organization, but it is one I feel is necessary to protect the future of our company.”
Ticketmaster assured affected employees that these measures are temporary as the company looks to lessen its costs while live events are on hold. Personnel will continue to have health benefits during this time, with furloughs taking effect May 1.
“We are entirely focused on getting back to business as soon as it is safe and sensible to do so, and in turn, protecting your job for the future,” Smith declared to his staff. “We will continue to evaluate the situation and begin bringing back employees as soon as circumstances permit us to do so.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has decimated all aspects of the concert and live event industries, including ticketing companies such as Ticketmaster.
Canceled and postponed tours have left the company scrambling as it tries to manage a deluge of refund requests. “It’s a pretty big process to go through,” Joe Berchtold, CEO of Ticketmaster’s parent company Live Nation, explained to CNBC. “Right now the volume of it is just so huge.”
Although the company is confident music fans will return to concerts once social distancing measures are lifted, others aren’t so sure. A recent survey suggested that 40 percent of concert goers will abstain from attending shows until a COVID-19 vaccine is available.