2022: An Exciting Year For ‘Live’ Beckons

Industry Watch | January 3, 2022 | News

Deepak Choudhary entertainment industry events

What a difference a year makes. By every measure, 2021 was both quantitatively and qualitatively better than 2020, which was catastrophic. As the live entertainment industry limps into 2022, one thing is certain. The industry was given so many curveballs in the year gone by and we have learnt to take them in our stride. If we survived the last couple of years, what more could the future throw at us? The amount of shows we hosted, postponed and/or rescheduled was incredible. But we made it through, and we thrived!

As most live entertainment opportunities were put on hold for much of 2020, all eyes were on 2021 for pathways to a rebound. The hope was that recovery would begin sooner than later. Even as early as the first quarter in some areas, most notably Goa, the entire outlook for the Indian industry rebound appeared profoundly positive. More and more artistes began to find their own paths back to stages and live crowds during the second half of 2021, with social distancing and safety protocols as much a part of the show experience as the guitar riffs.

There is nothing quite like fans experiencing live entertainment in person. Having to shut that down during the pandemic was disappointing, but the comeback has been thrilling. Fans are ready and artistes’ performances have been stellar at all the events I have attended in the past few months. It’s delightful to see pure fan enjoyment once again – no screen can match the in-person experience. 

A key thing that every event management agency owner has learnt in the last two years is to manage uncertainty. With ever-changing restrictions imposed by local administrations, staffing and planning for events was very challenging. But, as an industry, we did not waste our time nor did we stop work during the Covid crisis. We turned adversity into opportunity, thanks to some agile, creative minds, adoption of technology, collaborative pivots and of course hard work from stakeholders across the industry. We transitioned from a live on-ground events business to a digital-only experience and then crafted a new hybrid model. In the process, we have also realised the true value of event content. The efforts put in during the toughest phase are now showing results. I am confident that we have never felt stronger as a business.

With so many strides forward in 2021, I am confident that the new year will be filled with lots of shows. I am confident that 2022 will be bigger than 2021, as people are craving for live experiences. I am hopeful that the situation will continue to get better as we keep Covid under control.

It’s hard to make predictions for 2022 given the continued global uncertainty with the pandemic. I’d like to think that the Indian artiste touring business will be back in full swing but the sizeable business of large format exhibitions and festivals is still a couple of months, if not more, away.

While I expect that the industry will be headed towards the path of recovery in 2022, I don’t foresee complete normalcy in the live business as every state has its own unique set of Covid protocols. That said, I am optimistic for a big summer as outdoor shows seem to have the perception of less risk.

I am looking forward to a record number of shows and festivals in 2022. I also think that we will tap into more technologies such as augmented reality and VR to develop unique live activations at physical events and improve the hybrid experience for attendees. Finally, there will be an increased emphasis on digital content around every live experience created.

It will be an exciting year in live, without question.

(The author is Founder and Director, EVENTFAQS Media and Event Capital.)

The live entertainment industry bounced back impressively after a catastrophic 2020 and is now ready to take on future uncertainty armed with learnings from the Covid crisis, says the author.

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