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Millennials and Boomers Love Experiences, But Who Attends More Concerts?

Middle-aged consumers' share of concertgoing far exceeds their share of U.S. population.

A new survey tries to answer an age-old question: do people attend fewer concerts as they age? This particular survey, conducted by ticketing company Eventbrite, found millennials and boomers alike see “experiences” as an important part of a fulfilled life — not surprising considering boomers were attending Woodstock, The Newport Folk Festival and the US Festival before millennials were even born.

At the very least, people have more potential to attend concerts in their older years. The survey found 44 percent of boomers (ages 51 to 70) that attend live events said they attend more events now than 10 years ago. In addition, more than half of boomers (54 percent) reported having more time for live experiences now that their children are older. 

But other recent data suggests intention may not translate into concert attendance. Ticketmaster’s 2014 U.S. Live Event Attendee Study found that boomers (55 and over) accounted for just 22 percent of concertgoers while millennials (18 to 34) accounted for 35 percent and middle-aged groups (35 to 54) were 43 percent of attendees. That points to considerably less concert activity for boomers, although the boomer category probably would have fared a bit better using Eventbrite’s age definition (51 to 70).

Boomers also under-index when their population is taken into account. According to Billboard’s population estimates based on U.S. Census data, boomers (55 and up) account for 34.6 percent of the U.S. population, but made up just 22 percent of concert attendees last year. Millennials also under-index, with an estimated 35 percent of the population and 30 percent of concert attendees.

The most active concertgoers, middle-aged consumers from 35 to 54, attend concerts at far greater rates than older and younger people. This minivan-driving generation account for roughly 16.7 percent of the U.S. population but 43 percent of concertgoers. (This age group was not part of Eventbrite’s survey, an online survey conducted by Harris Poll in late June, of 549 millennials, ages 18-34, and 799 boomers.) Millennials over-index in moviegoing, not concertgoing. The 18-to-39 age group accounted for 31 percent of the population, but 36 percent of both moviegoers and tickets purchased (in the U.S. and Canada, according to the MPAA).

If boomers over-index in any live music category, it’s probably the purchasing of expensive tickets to popular tours. Legacy artists are common on Billboard’s list of top-grossing tours of 2014. The Rolling Stones were third on the list at $143.4 million and per-attendee revenue of $183.68 in just 21 concerts. Fourth-placed The Eagles had per-attendee revenue of $133.98 over 70 concerts and sixth-placed Paul McCartney had $142.11 over 29 concerts.

Younger artists had to tour longer and charge less. One Direction‘s first-placed tour generated revenue of $290.2 million with a per-attendee revenue of $84.36. Second-placed Justin Timberlake played 111 concerts and had a per-head average of $115.51. Fifth-placed Katy Perry‘s numbers were $100.15 and 82 concerts.