All types of business events are in danger of their revenue streams of tickets, sponsorships, memberships, and other types of fees being eroded. This is happening as the world gets used to digital formats and alternatives emerge to physical networking, matchmaking, and other tasks we get out of these events. The threat sounds familiar?
I won’t bury the headline: the vast, global events industry is going through its Napster moment through this pandemic, and is in denial on what this will do to it.
Everything about the underlying economics of this sprawling, diverse, chaotic and highly profitable sector is being undercut by the move to virtual, and 2019 may be the year where the industry’s revenues peaked. This year could be the event industry’s 2000 moment à la what happened to the music industry.
I was there during the music industry’s Napster moment in late ’90s, a cub reporter covering the vast promise of early internet, and wrote hundreds of stories about what happened to labels and the economic structure of music industry and music acts. I wrote about the atomization of the album into singles and the download boom with rise of Apple’s iTunes, and then the start of the streaming boom that led to Spotify and others since.