Pyramid Productions Owner Sees Light (and Hears Music) at End of Tunnel
NEW ORLEANS – When live events shut down a year ago, performers and venues weren’t the only economic casualties.
The production companies that provide audio equipment, lighting, video and other elements for concerts, festivals and meetings also have been hibernating for the last 12 months and doing their best to survive until business picks back up.
Don Drucker, owner of Pyramid Productions (and former tour manager for the Eagles), said he’s used every available strategy to wait out the quiet year. He laid off some employees, reduced salaries and hours for others, applied for help from the Paycheck Protection Program and the state’s Main Street Recovery Program, and cut expenses.
The good news, Drucker said, is that he sees light – and hears music – at the end of the tunnel.
“We have our very first show booked in April for the Gates of Prayer synagogue,” he said. “And then we have Hogs for the Cause in June. Jazz Fest, and the Zoo-to-Do are rescheduled for the fall. And we’re getting quite a few phone calls for other events. We’re seeing more quotes going out in the last few weeks than we have seen in the last few months.”
Drucker said he and his peers are still waiting to hear for sure when the bigger venues are going to open – but the word is most will be in full swing by September. Even though some smaller rooms have opened in recent weeks, the reduced capacities still required by the city and state are likely the reason the big guys are holding off.
“Expenses don’t go away,” said Drucker. “No matter what event size you do, you still have X amount of expenses. For a lot of these venues, they need 100% sellout to make a buck. If they are only selling 70%, I would think they are losing money. They are depending on that last percentage for profit.”
Another reason the off year has been stressful for Drucker – and other live event production companies, no doubt – is that an essential part of his business model is stocking up on the latest audio and video equipment, such as all the giant screens used at Jazz Fest. That technology loses value as time goes by, whether it’s being used or not.
Drucker, in fact, made a major purchase right before the pandemic that has been sitting idle in his Elmwood warehouse and losing its “new gear smell.”
“You have to get the right equipment to stay current – or you’ll fall behind,” he said. “And it all changes over every year to two. We did just buy the most current, up-to-date, state-of-the-art PA system that literally was the second sale by the d&b factory before they closed down. So it’s just been sitting there gathering dust, you know?”
On the flip side, Drucker hopes the down year for everyone means the technology already in hand will have a longer lifespan.
“Basically the whole industry is going on pause for the last year,” he said. “So you really haven’t seen that many developments from manufacturers. There’s been a couple out there, but nothing that’s been overwhelming. Because the bottom line is they’re not making sales in this environment either. They would be selling to companies like me. And if we’re not working, we’re not making major purchases. Now, we may lose a little time on that PA system because the fact is that research and development is not going to stop so the newer products may be coming out a little bit sooner than normal.”
‘Enjoying Life Again’
Ultimately, with shots going into arms and more and more venues opening their doors, Drucker is feeling optimistic. He thinks the busier fall will lead to a memorable Carnival season, when some, but not all, krewes will pull out all the stops to celebrate the fact that the city is allowed to celebrate again.
“We love people and crowds and bands,” he said. “Everybody is going to want to go out, have fun and start enjoying life again.”