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As storm passes, US live industry works out long-term impact of Sandy

By | Published on Tuesday 30 October 2012

Hurricane Sandy

Needless to say, as America’s East Coast, and especially New York City, locked down in the middle of the night as the particularly strong Hurricane Sandy hit the mainland, bringing with it 99mph winds and widespread coastal flooding, few would have been thinking about the Journey concert they’d got tickets for tonight. But as the storm moves on and blows out, and the flooded rivers subside, the US live industry will be counting the costs as well as its blessings.

Obviously gigs due to take place in New York, and other towns and cities hit by Sandy, were cancelled last night and tonight as the hurricane approached, though the extent of impact the storm will ultimately have on the entertainment industry won’t be clear until the scale of damage to venues and public transport infrastructure is clear, and the timescales for restoring power to the large areas currently without electricity are known (overnight the Empire State Building was seemingly pretty much the only building in Manhattan where back-up power was still operational, making for a very spooky skyline). It will also take some time for air travel across the US to get back to normal after the shutdown of airports down the East Coast.

Asked about the impact of the then approaching storm, AEG Live President Randy Phillips told Billboard yesterday: “A major weather occurrence like Sandy is, obviously, disruptive both in the daily lives of the communities we work in and the clients we tour. It will have an impact on our budgets and earnings – if even in the short term, since we average a couple of hundred shows a week in those markets that have had to hunker down while the storm passes through”.

Paul Bassman of entertainment insurance firm Doodson also confirmed to Billboard that he’d had many clients calling in the last 48 hours about their cover for storm-caused cancellations. Not every venue and promoter will be covered for storm-related losses, and while most artist contracts will not require fees be paid when extreme weather causes cancellations, any promoter canning or postponing events will incur losses. The likes of AEG and Live Nation have contingency for such occurrences in their wider budges, though some smaller players may not.

So the impact of Sandy on the live industry will take some time to assess; not least because there’ll be much more pressing matters for all those affected by the storm in the immediate future.