The Coronavirus Outbreak

By Ben Sisario

The company will open a 30-day window for ticket buyers to get their money back for shows that have been rescheduled.

Music fans have been complaining online about being unable to secure refunds for tickets to events that have been postponed due to the pandemic.
Music fans have been complaining online about being unable to secure refunds for tickets to events that have been postponed due to the pandemic.Credit...Erika Gerdemark for The New York Times
Ben Sisario

Frustrated music fans may soon get some relief over concerts that have been postponed during the coronavirus pandemic.

Starting May 1, AEG Presents, one of the two giant companies that dominate the touring market, will open a 30-day window offering refunds for tickets to shows that have been rescheduled.

According to a document that AEG circulated to talent agents this week, the refunds will be offered for concerts that were postponed once the pandemic shut down the concert world last month, and have been given new dates. That means that fans holding tickets to shows that have been delayed but not rescheduled will have to wait.

AEG’s refund window will work like this: On May 1, fans will have 30 days to request refunds for shows that have already been rescheduled. After May 1, they will get 30 days from the time new dates are announced.

The move by AEG comes after weeks of growing anger from consumers, who have flooded social media with complaints over their difficulty securing refunds for postponed concerts from big ticket vendors like Ticketmaster and StubHub.

Around 30,000 events have already been postponed as a result of the pandemic, and tickets to many of those were sold months ago. By some estimates, consumers have spent more than $1 billion on tickets to these events.

Live Nation Entertainment, AEG’s rival as a global concert promoter, has not set any specific timing for refunds. But in a statement, the company said: “Live Nation’s plan is to continue offering an opportunity for refunds on all of its rescheduled shows as new dates are set. We anticipate those windows will begin to open up on an event by event basis in the next few weeks.”

In a separate statement this week, Ticketmaster — which is owned by Live Nation — said that its clients had already authorized refunds for more than 11,000 concerts and sporting events, including 4,000 that had been postponed.

Ticketmaster, which processes more than $30 billion in ticket sales each year, acts on behalf of concert venues and promoters. For events that are canceled outright, Ticketmaster says that it offers refunds within 30 days. But for shows that are postponed or whose status is in doubt, it relies on venues and promoters to decide whether tickets should be refunded — and in many of those cases, the promoter or venue may be controlled by Live Nation.

AEG, which is owned by the billionaire investor Philip F. Anschutz, puts on tours by stars like Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift and Celine Dion, and also owns regional concert promoters like the Bowery Presents in New York and Goldenvoice in Los Angeles, which organizes the Coachella festival. (Coachella, which was scheduled for this month, has been postponed to October, and offered refunds to ticketholders.)

Beyond the refunds for shows that have already been postponed, the concert world — which had expected 2020 to be a banner year — has been in a state of deep anxiety about when artists will be able to tour again, and when the public will feel comfortable with the elbow-to-elbow proximity of an arena or club.

While some events have been rescheduled for later this year, many talent agents and industry executives say that they do not expect tours to resume full-steam until 2021. And in a recent note to investors, Morgan Stanley predicted that it may take until 2022 for Live Nation to return to the level of profitability it had last year.

  • Updated April 11, 2020

    • This is a difficult question, because a lot depends on how well the virus is contained. A better question might be: “How will we know when to reopen the country?” In an American Enterprise Institute report, Scott Gottlieb, Caitlin Rivers, Mark B. McClellan, Lauren Silvis and Crystal Watson staked out four goal posts for recovery: Hospitals in the state must be able to safely treat all patients requiring hospitalization, without resorting to crisis standards of care; the state needs to be able to at least test everyone who has symptoms; the state is able to conduct monitoring of confirmed cases and contacts; and there must be a sustained reduction in cases for at least 14 days.

    • If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.

    • The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.

    • It seems to spread very easily from person to person, especially in homes, hospitals and other confined spaces. The pathogen can be carried on tiny respiratory droplets that fall as they are coughed or sneezed out. It may also be transmitted when we touch a contaminated surface and then touch our face.

    • No. Clinical trials are underway in the United States, China and Europe. But American officials and pharmaceutical executives have said that a vaccine remains at least 12 to 18 months away.

    • Unlike the flu, there is no known treatment or vaccine, and little is known about this particular virus so far. It seems to be more lethal than the flu, but the numbers are still uncertain. And it hits the elderly and those with underlying conditions — not just those with respiratory diseases — particularly hard.

    • If the family member doesn’t need hospitalization and can be cared for at home, you should help him or her with basic needs and monitor the symptoms, while also keeping as much distance as possible, according to guidelines issued by the C.D.C. If there’s space, the sick family member should stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom. If masks are available, both the sick person and the caregiver should wear them when the caregiver enters the room. Make sure not to share any dishes or other household items and to regularly clean surfaces like counters, doorknobs, toilets and tables. Don’t forget to wash your hands frequently.

    • Plan two weeks of meals if possible. But people should not hoard food or supplies. Despite the empty shelves, the supply chain remains strong. And remember to wipe the handle of the grocery cart with a disinfecting wipe and wash your hands as soon as you get home.

    • That’s not a good idea. Even if you’re retired, having a balanced portfolio of stocks and bonds so that your money keeps up with inflation, or even grows, makes sense. But retirees may want to think about having enough cash set aside for a year’s worth of living expenses and big payments needed over the next five years.