Encore Live CEO on drive-in concert with Blake Shelton

Encore Live Founder and CEO Walter Kinzie joins Yahoo Finance’s Zack Guzman to discuss how music events are adapting to the coronavirus, as social distancing guidelines are enforced.

Video Transcript

ZACK GUZMAN: As we've been noting, life has changed quite a bit, I'm sure you've noticed, during the pandemic. One business sector clearly hit by all this has been at concerts. It was expected to be a pretty large year, roughly $30 billion industry this year between ticket sales and sponsorship revenue according to PwC.

But after the pandemic hit, the sector would be lucky if it ekes out maybe a quarter of that. Forecast only to hit about $7 billion in total business, according to Media Research. So when we think about how big the impacts are, what are these businesses left to do?

Well, how about some good old-fashioned drive-in concerts? A little over a week ago, more than 350,000 fans drove into over 300 drive-in theaters across North America. This was on June 27th to enjoy a concert from Garth Brooks. It was actually taped at a national soundstage weeks before the show.

And it turns out it sparked quite the interest in the event space, as Live Nation is also set to roll out a live drive-in concert series of its own now as well, beginning this weekend. And here to discuss the overall trend is the creator of the Garth Brooks taped experience and the founder and CEO of Encore Live, Walter Kinzie joins us now.

And Walter, I mean, 350,000 people are a lot of people, especially in a pandemic, to come into one space. You guys did it safely with cars spaced out. But what was the response from fans like and how did it match up with your expectations for something like this?

WALTER KINZIE: Well, it was wildly successful, Zack. And, you know, there's not a stadium or arena in the United States that can hold 350,000 people. So it was-- Garth is the absolute greatest and one of the most loved entertainers of all time. And so I'm not surprised by the showing of his fan base, but it was a very overwhelming evening as I was watching the numbers continue to track in.

And once we got past 100,000 to 200,000, I actually went to bed before the second showing in California. And we were already well over 300,000 people. And so I knew it was going to be a big night. And the fans certainly turned out. It was just a beautiful evening.

ZACK GUZMAN: Yeah, impressive that you could go to bed through all that, too. But when you think about what's coming down the pike here, you guys are already out with a new performance announced, a Blake Shelton, Gwen Stefani, and Trace Adkins again airing at drive-in theaters across North America on July 25th.

But also, I should note, Live Nation catching, you know, a little bit of this as well. They're announcing their own live drive-in series this weekend. Will be starting with Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker included in that lineup. So what's your take on maybe how this might become the new trend? Are you mad to see another company coming in, copying the idea, making it live? How has it been different on the fan perspective here in trying to kind of recreate that concert vibe?

WALTER KINZIE: Well, I'm not mad at all. And we're friends with the folks over at Live Nation. I'm excited to see them. They have so many arenas and amphitheaters that are sitting empty right now. And so it's exciting to see they've got their three shows this weekend. And it's going to be a really good show. And Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker, Nelly, they're great, great gentlemen. So it'll be a good evening.

You know, I think this is going to be a trend that we're going to see for quite a while. This is a safe way for fans to come together. And the way we've got our shows set up, you could quite literally leave your home, preferably on an empty bladder, but you could quite literally leave your home and never have to interact with a single human being. You don't have to roll down your window. We have a touchless ticket system.

And so this is a completely safe way. You could even stay in quarantine and still go out to the drive-in and watch world class entertainment. And so-- and the levels of industries that we're touching here is unbelievable. We're helping the music industry. But you think about small towns.

And it is not just the ticket and the entertainment. They're buying gas. They're shopping at the local stores. They're eating food. And so it's been a nice resurgence to small town USA. And we're proud to be a part of it.

ZACK GUZMAN: No, it's interesting that you mentioned small town USA. Because I am noticing a trend here when we think about the artist name, when you're thinking about Garth Brooks, Trace Adkins, Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker. There's a lot of country names here. I'd be curious to get your take on what this shift here in drive-in concerts-- obviously need a lot of space to house all the cars.

Do you think that this might actually provide a little bit of a boost to the country music industry versus some of these other, I guess, you know, different concert styles out there that might be more prone to packing people in and something you wouldn't be able to enjoy in a car?

WALTER KINZIE: Well, I think you should pay attention to our tour. And we've only announced Blake Shelton. But we have the very special Gwen Stefani going to be joining. And she's going to a part of the Blake Shelton show. But you're going to see our tour cross multiple genres. The country music entertainers happen to be the most nimble right out of the gate and able to get these shows recorded for us.

But as our tour expands through August and September and into the fall, you're going to see a mix of a lot of different genres. And so we're reaching over 100 million people in North America the big stadiums and arenas don't currently represent or touch.

And so these folks are having to travel in a real-- in normal situations, they're having to travel hours to see quality entertainment. We're going to bring the big stars to them. And you're going to see that across all of North America this summer.

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