2023 & 2024 Trends in the Live Event Industry
Published on: Thursday, May 18, 2023 - 12:20pm
2023 has been an exciting year for live events, and we expect the same in 2024. For as frantic as 2022 felt to everyone in the industry, this year feels different than what we faced the past couple of years. The last year saw all of us eagerly return to at least some sort of normalcy as the pandemic eased. What we had all hoped to be a grand return to live events was met with skyrocketing costs and labor shortages. While the crowds returned eager to experience a live event once again, our industry’s struggles persisted throughout the year. But that was last year. Let’s take a look at the trends in the live event industry we are seeing and expect to continue seeing this year and next year.
Costs Level Off, Gear Frees Up
One trend we are very excited about is centered around costs and equipment availability. With so many tours and events trying to happen at the same time, sourcing the equipment needed to successfully execute these events was a major pain point across the industry the past few years. Simply securing the equipment needed — all the way down to the trussing — was a balancing act for event production companies and suppliers alike. This demand, along with inflation, increased production costs several times over. Thankfully, we foresee this issue subsiding this year. Inflation has begun to ease across the country, alleviating event costs. Equipment for rental supply has begun to catch up with demand, which not only helps to further mitigate costs, but also makes it much easier to execute the vision behind an event with an easier path to secure the equipment needed. Although we don’t expect pricing to return to pre-pandemic rates anytime soon, the rapid increase in costs has seemed to level off quite a bit. This has allowed for a greater sense of normalcy than we’ve seen in months and has given various players within the industry the ability to catch up and adjust business tactics.
When the pandemic hit, the live events industry took a hard hit. The need for production services drastically decreased; freelancers whose incomes were dependent on one-off events throughout the year were forced to find work in other industries. Even as COVID eased and the demand for live events rose again, freelancers who left the production industry never returned, causing a massive labor shortage. Although the freelance pool has regained strength over the past couple of years, the mere quantity of available technicians has caused strife within the industry.
As a result of these changes, freelancers have the ability to be more selective about events they work at. They also require more advanced notice before being asked to work an event. Pre-COVID, you could secure a freelancer within a month of an event and be set. Post-pandemic, freelancers have more options for events and as a result, are demanding more. In today’s industry, you’d be wise to reach out to your desired freelancers at least 3 months before the event date. The smaller labor pool, the greater demands of freelancers, and steady growth of live events back to pre-COVID levels have all made it more difficult to contract the most seasoned, top-notch freelancers – which makes it even more imperative to stay ahead of the game when it comes to staffing your events.
Collaboration Between Competitors
Coming out of the pandemic, there was an immediate urgency for live events to return to their former status. With this uptick in consumer demand, production companies scrambled to return their operations to the level of pre-pandemic normalcy. Businesses and people that experienced a wave of inactivity during COVID – event agencies, A/V/L companies, freelance technicians and engineers, event venues, suppliers of AVL equipment, etc. – saw an aggressive request for their services once again. These various industry players were inevitably forced to outsource products & services from competitors, and this ultimately led to a sharing of technology, personnel, and expertise. While there were companies reluctant to accept this collaborative approach to bringing live events back, strong partnerships were formed between firms that embraced the need for outside resources.
For example, CTS leaned on suppliers and even competitors to ensure live production could make an impactful return after months of cancelled events. While it was never our first option to request freelancers or production equipment from our Nashville competition, we greatly appreciated the willingness and desire of other production companies to collaboratively assist each other in making live events a reality post-pandemic. At the end of the day, the overarching goal was to bring inspiration and connection back to audiences, congregations, and spectators – and live event companies were determined to make that happen, regardless of where the gear was sourced.
Ready for the Future
While we’re already several months into the year, there’s still a significant amount of time left to take advantage of the changes we’ve seen this year and will continue to see next year. Based on what we’ve observed, it’d be wise to invest in new, available equipment when possible, stay tapped into the freelance market and plan ahead, and utilize the resources of other industry players. Whatever innovative idea you have for a conference or tour, we’re here to listen, ideate with you, and bring your vision to life.
Reach out today and let’s do great things together this year.