A raft of live music bosses have spoken to Music Week about the potential of drive-in concerts as Live Nation prepare to host a series of shows across 12 venues in the UK this summer.
Utilita Live From The Drive-In will feature a series of music concerts, theatre performances, comedy shows and family experiences from the end of July until September, with capacity for around 300 cars per show. Fans will be able to enjoy concerts from their own private individual viewing zones next to their cars.
“This outdoor concert series was created as a way to reimagine the live music experience during a time of social distancing by allowing fans to enjoy concerts in the safest way possible," said promoter Peter Taylor of Live Nation said. "Each event will comply with all official Government guidelines in order to protect fans, artists, crews and staff."
Tickets went on sale yesterday for the UK tour, which will see live performances from Ash, Beverley Knight, Bjorn Again, Brainiac Live, Brand New Heavies, Camp Bestival Live, Cream Classical Ibiza, Dizzee Rascal, Embrace, Jack Savoretti, Kaiser Chiefs, Lightning Seeds, Nathan Dawe, Reggae Roast Vs Gentleman's Dub Club, Russell Watson, Sheku and Isata Kanneh-Mason, Sigala, Skindred, The Snuts, The Streets, The Zutons and Tony Hadley.
Covid-19 may just be that point where we can rest, recalibrate and embrace new ideas
Drive-in gigs are already well established in the US, and have also been held in countries such as Germany, Denmark, Lithuania and South Korea, enabling live music to return while adhering to current social distancing guidelines.
The concept received a mixed response from leading touring execs in Music Week's cover story on the future of the industry earlier this month.
Ray Winkler, of entertainment architect Stufish, which has worked on productions by the likes of Elton John, The Rolling Stones and Beyoncé & Jay-Z, was encouraged by what he had seen of the format so far.
"They're interesting," he said. “The simple fact is that we’re an incredibly creative species and difficulties and challenges like this throw up new opportunities. Covid-19 may just be that point where we can reset, recalibrate and embrace new ideas in a way we might not have done if things looked different out there.
"There's so much doom and gloom around, and music is about the uplifting experience. Music transports us to places that we would otherwise never reach and it's really important for us at Stufish and as an industry at large to still be able to deliver this both to the artist and the audiences. Without it, we would be a much sadder place."
Anton Lockwood, director of Music Week Award-winning promoter and venue operator DHP Family, questioned the financial viability of the format.
“It’s hard to see a model where you make a decent amount of money, so it's pretty niche,” he said. "I know they are doing it in some countries and there's already a network of drive-in cinemas in America, but it feels like stopgap stuff to me."
Paul Reed, CEO of the UK's Association Of Independent Festivals, was similarly sceptical.
“At best, those sorts of things are going to be stopgaps, but it will be interesting to see how they go,” he said. “They’ll be interesting experiments and perhaps, in the absence of that typical festival experience, they will be preferable to watching something on a screen at home.
"[But] it's only scalable to a certain extent because for a lot of festivals, live music's only part of the mix. My instinct is that it's more applicable to the concert model than the festival model, but it will be interesting to see."