Music fans are warming up to the idea of in-person events with a vaccine in-market, and most will continue to livestream virtual concerts even when physical touring resumes, according to the ninth installment of MRC Data’s survey series COVID-19: Tracking the Impact on the Entertainment Landscape.
The new study, which is available for download HERE, also found that Americans continue to crave a return to normalcy as we enter a new year, and have shifted away from early pandemic panic behavior. Among total respondents, 79% said they wish to get back to life as it was before the pandemic (a 4% uptick from the previous installment of the study), and 66% said they were tired of hearing about COVID-19 (in line with the previous installment).
Below are five key takeaways for the music industry from the study, which is based on data collected Jan. 4-11 from a representative sample of 1,042 U.S. consumers ages 13 and up.
1. Consumers are hitting an entertainment plateau
While consumers rushed to fill their spare time at home with entertainment at the start of the pandemic, entertainment habits have stabilized, and less time is being spent with music. Among music listeners, 41% said they are spending more time with music lately, down 5% from the study’s previous installment. On trend with past years, audio streaming and physical album sales have declined following the holidays.
It’s not just music listening that is hitting a plateau, however: Consumers are also spending less time with social media, short form videos, video games, cooking/baking and and movies.
2. Music fans want tunes that lift their mood
Music listeners continue to seek upbeat music, calm music for meditation and music to help them focus while working from home, the study found. Among music consumers, 59% chose “Uplifting/happy music” as the number-one most important thing the music industry can offer during the COVID-19 outbreak.
In terms of genre, Latin music dominated throughout December, as the only genre to outperform in audio streams despite listeners shifting towards holiday classics. Even so, country outperformed Latin during the week ending Jan. 14 for the first time in months, thanks to the release of Dangerous: The Double Album from the now-embattled country star Morgan Wallen.
3. The availability of a COVID-19 vaccine has boosted interest in a return to in-person events
With a vaccine in-market, live event-goers are easing into the idea of a large crowd — and many have already begun venturing out. Among music consumers, 10% have attended a live performance/event in the past two weeks, and 17% of live event-goers have spent more time with live events in the past two weeks.
Attitudes differ by region. Northeasterners are more eager to return to live events in 1-2 months, while event-goers in the harder-hit South are more likely to wait more than six months. Crowd size is less of a concern for Midwesterners, who are most likely to attend larger events of 500 people or more.
Overall, event-goers would prefer proof of vaccination to be required for all live event attendees in the future.
4. There is likely to be a demand for livestreamed events even when physical touring resumes…
While the concert livestreaming industry has exploded amid the absence of touring, the impending return of in-person events has raised questions about how long the livestreaming boom can last. The report brings good news for livestreamers: Among total respondents, 60% said they are likely to pay for a livestreamed event even when in-person live music returns.
5. …But less may be more
The report also includes some helpful insights to plan more engaging livestreams: 73% of all respondents who livestream only watch part of the virtual concert, which suggests that frontloading the most important content is in the performer’s best interest, and 54% would prefer virtual events to be shorter.