The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland this week announced that the live, in-person induction ceremony has been called off due to COVID-19 concerns.
The inductees will be honored instead with a packaged special on HBO November 7th.
"We always had health and safety in mind, even when we postponed it from May 7," Rock Hall president and CEO Greg Harris said. "It seemed like a hard decision to make at the time. In hindsight, it was absolutely the right thing to do. That was when people were just starting to cancel stuff, and it made complete sense. Then the thought came, can you legally have than many people in one place. But then ethically, and you couldn't. You wonder who wants to be there with the risk of getting this illness. What artists are really going to travel. As people starting postponing tour after tour after tour, it became pretty clear that we had to follow suit."
Harris added that making the decision now also allows some time to produce an event that's truly fitting for this year's induction class.
"It can't be people making cell phone videos in their basement," Harris continued. "It can't be pieced together streams. It has to be done at a real high quality. It's gonna be high definition broadcast on HBO and then blasted around the world on HBO Max for streaming. But it has to be of that magnitude. If we're pulling out archival images and footage, it's gotta be great images and footage. This isn't just your typical 30 minute Rock doc. This is a two-hour long feature that celebrates the career achievements of these great artists. There will be a longer time that talks about their history and impact on other artists. In the arena show, those are the packages that introduce each segment. Those will be able to go a little bit deeper because of the format and because of where you are. I don't want to be a spoiler. I think people should watch the show and see where it comes together. There isn't a cookie cutter for each artist either. The producers are really working to make sure they tell a strong story."
Depeche Mode, The Doobie Brothers, Whitney Houston, Nine Inch Nails, The Notorious B.I.G., and T. Rex make up the class of 2020. The museum itself re-opened in June, and Harris said attendance has been decent. But with the museum's month-long closure related to the pandemic, a surge in cases around the state, and the cancelation of the live induction ceremony in Cleveland, the economic toll will be significant. Harris projected the museum to struggle to reach half of its typical annual revenue of $28 million.
The museum opens a new exhibit later this month celebrating the link between Rock & Roll and social justice. The Rock Hall has seen incredible response online as it's been releasing footage from prior inductions since the pandemic began. The 2021 induction ceremony will be in Cleveland.