In the first quarter of 2021, things were coming on track after a global lockdown due to the Covid-19 emergency. Live events in metropolitan cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata were on rising. India saw live events happening in some malls and outdoor locations. But, it happened for a limited time in India. Second covid-19 wave, deadlier and stronger than the first one, strike India in April and all live events were canceled or postponed.
As per the reports, April month saw an 80% downfall in live events compared to March 2021. In India, June 2021 saw a downfall in Covid-19 cases again. Business activities are slowly opening nationwide. Are we ready for live events again? Let’s have a look at the future of live events in India.
Decline in Live Events
There was a rise in live music concerts, comedy club shows, and food festivals during January-February of 2021. Both offline and online event management firms recorded a surge in their clients to organize live events. March month again saw a slight surge in covid cases and state governments started lockdowns during weekends. During the last weeks of March, night curfew affected the wedding and local events happening in the societies.
Talking about the systematic downfall in live events, Siddhartha Chaturvedi, general secretary, EEMA (Event and Entertainment Management Association) said:
“Just when we thought we could see some light at the end of the tunnel, we’re back to where we began.”
As per EEMA reports, there was a surge in live events queries during December and January of 2020-21. Corporates and the entertainment industry was looking to book the live event slots in June.
But, a sudden spike in Covid-19 during April brought a state of complete confusion. Currently, the live events industry is crashed. Working professionals in event management firms are fighting to protect their livelihoods. Each state government has its own lockdown guidelines that make live events plan near to impossible.
Shreyas Srinivasan, CEO, Paytm Insider expected that things may be cleared for event organization firms in May month. But, we are not finding any major relaxation in lockdown rules for live events.
BookMyShow, the live event ticket provider, said that from October onwards, the company saw a 70% ticket sale for 50% capacity events as per the authority’s permission. Comedy events attracted the maximum users in that period. Live DJ performances, band shows, cricketing events saw a surge in their demands. And, second covid-19 wave struck India and everything went back to nation lockdown.
Future of Live Events in India
Will things change in India in the coming days? Talking about the future possibilities of live events, Srinivasan said:
“However, there is absolutely nothing happening now and there is no clear end to the story unless people are widely vaccinated and the vaccine proves effective.”
After the first wave of covid-19, Indian event management companies were expecting that 2021 will bring more positive news for the industry. Due to the covid-19 second wave, most event management companies and ticketing sites are unable to put a finger on an anticipated timeline for recovery this time.
Talking about the future uncertainty, Shilpa Ramesh Ramani, co-founder of One Page Spotlight said:
“But any haphazard efforts on recovery are likely to be termed as callous insensitivity on the part of the authorities.”
One Page Spotlight is a platform to collaborate event management companies and business firms for live events.
Organizations are switching to virtual events due to the uncertainty in live events. But, monetization is a key issue in virtual shows and events. As per Paytm Insider claims, the firm has organized over 2000 virtual events a month with an average capacity of 150 attendees.
Getting sponsors is a key issue in virtual events. Talking about the challenges faced by EEMA, Chaturvedi said:
“Virtual is a trend here to stay but the revenue doesn’t match up, people don’t wish to pay and corporate sponsorships are only coming in for big and established IPs such as the Sunburn Festival.”
Financial Stutus of Live Events Industry
As per the Ficci EY report, the organized events-based sector saw a decline in its revenue by 68% during 2020. Due to the second covid-19 wave, the revenue will further decline. The live event sector has also requested financial support from the finance ministry. But, they did not receive any positive reply yet.
Talking about the challenges and the complete ignorance from Finance ministry, Chaturvedi further added:
“We had requested aid even before the Union Budget. But India has been ignoring its cultural events industry, unlike other countries that recognize its value and revenue potential and have provided incentives.”
Before the Covid-19 crisis, the live event sector was valued at approximately Rs 8300 crores in 2019. As per Ernst & Young’s report, the industry was expected to reach Rs 10000 crore mark in 2020-21. But covid pandemic brought everything down.
In the first four months of 2020, it recorded Rs 40,000 crore losses. Since then, the downfall is on. The report also suggested that the live event sector will reach Rs 12200 crore valuation in 2022. Now, these numbers are impossible to reach without magic.
Live events and entertainment gatherings are part of our culture and society for ages. Currently, it is a distant dream to organize such activities.
Can Virtual Events Replace Live Events?
Currently, we have plenty of tools that have made life easy. And due to the recent technology, virtual events have become very common. Virtual Reality(VR), Augmented Reality(AR), Machine learning and advanced Artificial Intellgince concepts are driving the virtual industry very smoothly.
But, the main question is-can virtual events replace the live one? There are few reasons why face to face events are not yet over.
People believe in human interactions: when we go out to attend a live event, we are not just excited for that event only. There are penalty of other reasons as well. We want to meet our friends and want to have a discussion with other people as well.
Live engagement is better than virtual one: currently, we are working mostly from home and we know the kind of distractions we face during virtual meetings. If a live concert is on, we may get bored due to the only person in the room. But, when we have a live events, we get enthusiastic due to other audiences as well.
Live events offer rich experience: in virtual events, we may miss some part of the event due to poor connectivity. And we may miss the complete plot. Finally, we will feel left alone in the further proceedings. While, live events provide a real life experience.
Overall, virtual events can’t compete against the rich live experience we have in a theatre or in the outdoor space.
Currently, the future of live events is very much unpredictable. We can make it a reality if whole country gets vaccinated and the vaccine works effectively against the new variants of Covid-19. Countries like New Zealand, Australia, UK, and USA have come out the covid emergency very well. Things have become normal there. People are living maskless life in these countries. We can also do it if we follow the rules and regulations and live events will be welcomed again.