For as much coverage that the media heaps on the minutiae of Coachella, SXSW and all the other music festivals each year, sometimes we lose sight of the big picture.
To amend that, Billboard rounded up some essential facts about U.S. music festivals, from number of annual attendees to miles traveled to tweets. And to put those stats into context, we’re comparing those festival numbers to a variety of other statistics.
For starters, did you know that 32 million people attended at least one U.S. music festival in 2014, according to Nielsen Music? Of that number, 14. 7 million are Millennials, the most attractive target demographic for advertisers (which helps explains the ubiquity of festival advertising).
If 32 million sounds like an enormous number, well, that’s because it is. For comparison, Texas — the second-most populous state in the union — had 26.9 million residents in 2014, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. So collectively, U.S. music fest attendees (who are not necessarily all Americans, mind you, as the 32 million figure includes foreigners) outnumber Texans.
Even more surprising, this means more people go to at least one U.S. music festival each year than the number of Americans who die each year. According to the CDC, 2.6 million Americans died in 2014. That means approximately 12 times as many people hit a U.S. music fest than the number of Americans who croaked within that same 12-month period (excuse the morbid comparison).
That 32 million figure is less, however, than the population of the state of California (38.8 million), and much less than the number of obese Americans, which was 78.6 million in 2014, according to the CDC. So yeah, going to festivals is still not as much a part of American life as obesity.
Moving along, Nielsen Music also reports that the average festival-goer travels an astounding 903 miles to attend a festival (keep in mind, the average is bumped up by people who fly lengthy distances — like the Atlantic Ocean — to attend a festival).
Regardless, that’s an enormous length: It’s actually longer than the driving distance between Chicago and New York. Or to put it another way, you would have to swim to the deepest part of earth’s ocean (Marianas Trench in the Pacific) and return to the surface about 66 times before you reached that length. Of course, no one could physically do that, but you get the idea.
Aside from people and distance, there’s another number we’d be remiss not to mention when talking about music fests in the 21st century: Tweets.
During the first weekend (April 10-12) of Coachella 2015, 3.5 million tweets were sent according to Twitter. That’s a massive jump from the tweets sent during SXSW 2015, which saw 1 million tweets during a much longer period (March 17-23). (Coachela weekend 2, however, only saw 600,000 tweets.)
Still, Coachella’s first weekend didn’t quite dominate Twitter like nationally televised cultural events. People sent out 5.9 million tweets during the 2015 Oscars, and 28.4 million tweeted during Super Bowl XLIX. (In case you’re wondering, about 500 million tweets go out worldwide every day.)
Check out the graphic above for more details on U.S. music festivals.