Ticketmaster Furloughs Hundreds of Employees as Part of $500 Million Cost Reduction Plan

Courtesy of Ticketmaster

Ticketmaster has furloughed hundreds of employees -- representing a quarter of its workforce -- across multiple offices in North America, marking the first major employment cuts at the Live Nation-owned concert company in the face of the COVID-19 crisis.

The company is considering additional cost saving measures, Billboard has learned, as it analyzes the possibility of having little to no revenue in 2020. The furloughs caught some employees by surprise who said they were given assurances on multiple calls that the company would do everything it could to avoid cutting staff.

But officials at Live Nation said the furloughs were only temporary and part of a series of cost-cutting measures announced in an April 13 filing with the SEC that outlined the company's plans to save $500 million in 2020 through "the reduction in the use of contractors, rent re-negotiations, furloughs, and reduction or elimination of other discretionary spending."

The furloughs come as Live Nation grapples with a global quarantine to combat a novel coronavirus that has killed more than 60,000 people in the U.S. and resulted in 26 million layoffs. The quarantine has hit the concert business particularly hard, ending a bull run for companies like Live Nation which were on course to have their best year in the history of the company -- Ticketmaster broke records for ticket sales in January and February and was preparing a larger rollout of its Safetix technology.

Now much of that revenue is being returned to customers for canceled shows -- fans can opt in if they want a refund for postponed shows, with notices scheduled to go out Friday. Senior staff at the company took pay cuts as a result of the sudden downturn and chief executive Michael Rapino announced earlier this month that he is relinquishing his salary this year.

Company officials also tell Billboard that affected employees will continue to be provided with health benefits and given a one- to three-week payout.

"These are critical employees and we plan to bring everyone back," one company official said.