Live concert interest in the US nearing pre-Covid levels, new study shows

The reopening of venues for large events like sports and concerts have reignited consumers’ interest for concerts, underscoring expectations that 2022 will be a strong year for live music.

In the US alone, consumers aged 13 and above indicated their willingness to get back to live concerts this year, according to the most recent Music 360 study conducted in 30 countries by market monitor Luminate (formerly MRC Data / Nielsen Music).

Of those surveyed in February, 36% of US consumers said they planned on attending a concert in the following year, versus 15% who said they attended one concert in the previous year, Luminate said.

Adding to signs that live music has made a strong comeback in 2022 is the surge in searches for “concerts” on Google. The volume of searches for that keyword has aligned almost close to pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels after falling softly during the Omicron surge earlier this year.

The data backed up Live Nation Entertainment’s latest quarterly report showing that concert attendance, ticket sales, quarterly revenue and other core business metrics far exceeded pre-pandemic metrics from the same period, Luminate said.

Events promotion giant Live Nation had earlier said that “2022 is on track to be the biggest year in live music history.”

That statement came as the number of shows that it promoted rose 20% in the second quarter of 2022 to 12,500 from 10,000 in the same period in 2019 before the pandemic, while concert attendance surged 20% to 33.5 million fans during the same comparable period.

Tickets sold jumped 38% to more than 100 million tickets, while the average spending on site edged up 30% to $38.50 per fan versus $29.50 in Q2 2019. The company generated $4.4 billion in revenue across all divisions including concerts, ticketing and advertising & sponsorship, up 40% from 2019 level.

“As we prepare for 2023, everywhere globally is open for concerts, and we are actively routing into all markets with the largest artist pipeline we have ever seen at this point in the year,” Live Nation President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Rapino said about a month ago.

Pent-up demand has definitely fueled the surge in live concert attendance this year after fans have been cooped up in their homes for the most part of the pandemic. Artists, events promoters and other players in the live music industry are set to reap huge profits from the recovery in demand.

“Despite all the whiplash in the live music industry over the last several years, Live Nation’s strong quarterly report alongside Luminate’s internal research and revamped Google search interest in concerts suggest that consumers still believe the show(s) must go on,” Luminate said.

It also bears asking whether the return of live music will upend live-streamed concerts that have grown popular during the pandemic.

Just this weekend, Hong Kong singer-songwriter and film producer Andy Lau attracted a whopping 350 million fans online for his virtual concert, beating his previous record for more than 100 million attendees during another online concert last year.

However, research by a team that includes Middlesex University in London last year suggested that virtual concerts are here to stay.

The study, carried out with partners including the Musicians’ Union, the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM), the Music Venue Trust, and Serious, found that 90% of musicians and 92% of fans are upbeat that live-streaming will be a successful tool to reach audiences who are unable to go to physical venues.

Access to live music events emerged as an important theme in our research, not only the potential of live-streamed concerts to reach audiences globally but also music fans who suffer from social anxiety or other health-related issues that prevents them from attending music events in a physical venue,” according to Dr Brian Kavanagh, lecturer in Digital Innovation at King’s College in London.Music Business Worldwide