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Nielsen Releases In-Depth Statistics on Live Music Behavior: 52 Percent of Americans Attend Shows

Nielsen Music released its 2018 Music 360 Report focusing on the live music business this morning (Nov. 15), which shows that 52 percent of the U.S. population attends some sort of live music event…

Nielsen Music released its 2018 Music 360 Report focusing on the live music business this morning (Nov. 15), which shows that 52 percent of the U.S. population attends some sort of live music event each year. The report, the result of a survey of some 3,100 Americans, was also discussed with more detail by Nielsen Music’s vp/head of brand partnerships Matthew Yazge at this week’s Billboard Live Music Summit, who was bullish on the live industry in his remarks.

“It’s definitely growing,” he said about that 52 percent figure. “Artists rely heavily on touring. We’ve seen, specifically, festivals continuing to increase… I don’t think we’ve hit the peak [of festival attendance] yet, so I would anticipate that to continue growing in the future as well.”

Within the category of those who attend live events, 68 percent attended a concert, 66 percent a free outdoor community event involving music, 51 percent a small live sessions at a bar or café, 44 percent a music festival and 43 percent a club night featuring a live DJ. Those attendees tended to skew younger — 26 percent more likely to be millennials — and Hispanic, at 32 percent more likely than the general population. Attendees were also 35 percent more likely to come from households bringing in more than $80,000 a year, and spend an average of $247 per year on tickets to live music events, compared to $147 per year for the general population.


“These people are not shy in buying tickets. It’s all about the experience,” Yazge said, noting that attendees spend an average of 33.5 hours a week listening to music. “They’re listening to more than a full day of music in their average week.”

In terms of the overall population, 35 percent of people have attended a concert in the past 12 months, up from 33 percent last year, while the percentage of those who attended a festival, 23 percent, saw the greatest year over year growth, up from 18 percent. And while the average number of teens attending a live music event dropped from 44 percent to 40 percent, millennials (66 percent, from 60 percent) and Hispanics (69 percent, from 62 percent), both increased.

Social media was listed as the top source of discovery of new music, with 53 percent of live music attendees saying they found music on those platforms. Friends and relatives (37 percent), radio (32 percent) and artist’s official web sites (27 percent) came in behind. And social media is a huge platform on-site, too: 56 percent of attendees will engage on social media at a show — including 74 percent of millennials — with 33 percent sharing photos and 25 percent posting videos.

Live music attendees are also spending money on plenty beyond the $247 on tickets alone once they’re in the door: 23 percent purchase artist merchandise on-site, for example, while 19 percent buy new music or visit an artist’s web site. As Yazge put it, “They bought their tickets, they’re in the door, a lot of them are going to the merch stand and not necessarily buying music.”


And that also extends to drinks; perhaps unsurprisingly, attendees 21 and over are “bigger drinkers” than the general population, Nielsen found. And that data drilled down even further: attendees are 34 percent more likely to drink liquor (gin and tequila leading the pack, the study found); 34 percent more likely to drink wine (especially sparkling wine) and 27 percent more likely to drink beer. “If their phone is in one hand, a drink is in the other,” Yazge said, adding that the specific types of drinks surveyed “play into why you see more specific alcohol sponsorships” at events.

Finally, added Yazge, “Music is a way for people to express who they are and to find people in their own tribe.” Specifically, 79 percent of attendees say music helps them relive the past; 73 percent agreed they would “be completely lost without music”; 70 percent said it “helps me identify who I am”; and 67 percent said they connect with friends and family through music.