Concert Awareness Is Higher Than Ever Before In History. So Why Is Attendance Still Down?

What else is the concert industry supposed to do?  Fans have concert alerts blasting at them from every angle and app, their inboxes are stuffed with touring bands they love!

Which means in 2013, fans not only ‘know their favorite bands are in town,’ tens of millions are being spent to solve this problem.  Sequoia Capital dropped $10 million to make Songkick the best alert system on the planet.  Live Nation spent nearly $30 million on BigChampagne to put more butts in more seats.  The list goes on…

Yet these are the results, according to just-released attendance figures from Live Nation.

Here’s the data.  Here’s Live Nation’s 2012 fiscal report.

32 Responses

  1. Wondering

    Perhaps ticket prices can often be prohibitive?
    Or the generations that have appreciated concert-going have moved on?
    Or maybe everyone’s staying home and watching concert footage on YouTube instead…

    • GirlonFire

      So many reasons, so little time.
      Here is my #1 reason for not attending more concerts. Impersonal, crowded, uncomfortable, slick, insincere, homogenized, pasturized, replicable.
      Take a look at what social media is leading – people want connection and interaction and sincerity and engagement. We can get impersonal wow’s on TV in our home theater – you want me to show up in person, you better be there real and personal as well.

      • I'm confused

        What are you saying about social media?
        If you are saying that internet social networks are leading people to less connection, interaction, sincerity and engagement then I would agree.
        Also, it sounds like you’ve been going to the wrong concerts, either that or you are old.

          • I'm confused

            To paraphrase an old cliche:
            “Being old” has nothing to do with how many years you have been around.
            There are quite a few teenagers out there that think think and act like octogenarian curmudgeons.

  2. wallow-T

    For those who have decent paying jobs, work loads have gone through the roof since 2008. Employers stack the work higher and higher, so they do not have to pay additional health care costs for more employees.
    For those who don’t have decent paying jobs, they have two jobs.
    The concert glory days depended on the point that the middle class, who held the upper hand in labor conditions, had a lot of ability to engage in leisure activites, such as evening concerts.
    I used to see 1-2 small concerts a month and now it’s more like 4 a year. Recently I was at my drugstore and was horrified to hear two of the pharmacy workers — you’d think they’d be decent paid, we trust them with our lives — discussing their second jobs.
    I don’t think the music industry can do anything to solve this structural problem.

    • wallow-T

      I should stress that, for those who deal in “information,” the PC, the Internet and the cell phone mean that many employers expect that work will continue to be done in the evening from home. See the many, many article about the erasing of the boundary between home and work.

  3. Jabsco

    The answer is simple. People can’t afford to go to concerts. Americans are getting paid the lowest wages in decades, now they can’t afford concerts.

  4. oddeophile

    I’m curious if the data indicate whether large concerts or festivals have taken a hit, small shows or a combination of both.
    Very different reactions to be made whether the U2’s, Madonna’s, etc. are experiencing crowds of say 15K instead of 20K…..Or if our small time personal favorite bands, the ones that might draw max capacity at a small 1000 person stage are now only garnering 500 people.

    • Songbird

      I think 18-25 year olds, myself included, can justify spending the $400 on a ticket to festivals like Coachella because I am paying to see 30+ artists/bands. I have a hard time shelling out $100-200 just to see one artist. I mean, I want to, but it’s less bang for your buck. It just makes more sense to save up a little more to hear 30x the music of one concert at a regular venue.

      • Young Man

        Agreed. I wish more than anything I could go to more concerts but being that I have to choose very wisely where I spend my money, I choose a 3 day festival over an evening concert.
        Sadly, it’s either Toro Y Moi or groceries.

  5. I'm Old

    These days you have to catch an act that is still playing really small venues and bars. In other words there are no tickets, you just pay at the door.
    I remember when you could go see a show by a big name artist for the same price as buying their double vinyl album at the record store. Yes I know many people out there don’t know what these things are.
    Now I trhink there is a disconnect with consumers. Why would someone pay $75 for tickets when some if not all of the show will be up on youtube for free the next day?

  6. c∆ve-b

    “according to just-released attendance figures from Live Nation.”

  7. Jeff Robinson

    Flat out, the reason is the ticket prices. Artists have every right to charge megabucks for tickets when their music is value-less as a recorded product. The problem is that shows really become ‘for true fans only’ though.

  8. Yarnly

    It should be noted this is LiveNation concert attendance only and might not be too reflective of the industry as a hole. Arguably, they are the biggest player with a huge reach, but still wasn’t there just an article here on DMN regarding how they lost 160+ million last year?

    • paul

      Glad you called that out. Just thinking through this, perhaps Pollstar has a more comprehensive set of attendance stats.

      • CS

        It’s also worth pointing out the size, and ticket price, of Live Nation concerts. Most of their shows are in stadiums, arenas and amphitheatres and the lowest ticket price offered is typically $35 while the most expensive is hundreds. The concert attendence of those events may be down, but I don’t think that represents the entire concert industry.

        • Dry Roasted

          Live Nation is getting looted as we speak by about 5 guys.

    • LadyIcecat

      Check out the Jan. Pollstar numbers for YE 2012. I don’t have it at my fingertips, but I was in the midst of a research project regarding growth in live markets. I’m quite sure they reported increased ticket sales in both written and chart form.
      There’s also the conundrum of seeing increased sales by dollar versus tickets. The fact is, it’s the high dollar tickets (Madonna, etc) that drive the monetary growth which is out of proportion with the increase in tickets. As ticket prices increase, fewer people can afford them, or afford them as often.

  9. duh

    people are broke. simple as that.

    i wonder — if you look at the high end concerts (like barbra streisand or whoever, where the lowest ticket is, like 300 bux) — do you see a downturn? my guess would be no, because it’s the same story: the increasing income gap between the middle class and the top 1%. but that’s just speculation.

    • Nah

      Streisand is attracting a demographic that only goes to one show a year. Price does not matter to them.

  10. pulk

    I see two main reasons:

    1 – As its’been said in the above comments, people are cash and time-crunched
    2- The offer keeps expanding. In the city where I live (Montreal), I’m always amazed at the number of shows that are proposed to the music lovers. I just can’t figure out how the producers of these shows (I’ve done my share…) cannot lose money in this kind of environment… This aspect that has not been mentioned in the previous comments.

  11. hippydog

    Quote “So Why Is Attendance Still Down?”
    wait.. What?
    2008 was when people were commiting suicide over how much money they lost.. Just 4 years ago was some of the biggest bailouts for banks and business’s since.. well. ever…
    Why is attendance still down??
    better question is, How do we translate this apparrently successful model to the rest of the music industry?
    During the worlds largest financial meltdown (many say the closest we have come to reliving the dirty 30’s, and are still standing on the ledge) their was ONLY a 15% loss in concert attendance?
    thats actually pretty awesome!

    • Ghost of Rick Ross

      Exactly. There isn’t a middle class anymore its vanishing yet you have Michael Rapino ($24MM salary) focusing on the $350 Coldplay market.
      gotta fill the cheap seats too
      don’t adapt
      you die

  12. wot?

    That’s what Big Champagne was supposed to do?
    I knew it to be a news aggregator, but wasn’t aware of it’s concert seat-filling potential.

    • Ghost of Rick Ross

      Simplified but basically true, shareholders want butts in seats in fact any business in entertainment venues want butts in seats. So Big Champagne is supposed to be data mining and smartly figuring out why they are not going to shows. That’s where the money is.

      • Ghost of Rick Ross

        heres the announcement of when they bought Big Champaigne
        “We love the basics of what they’ve created, and love the idea of taking an incredible amount of fan data off- and online and merging that into a relevant database of what artists are most popular and relevant to today’s consumer,” Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino told the New York Times.
        e.g. more “relevant” artists get more butts in seats

        • paul

          Criticisms appreciated. I did oversimplify the mission of that acquisition, though I would agree with ‘Ghost of Rick Ross’ (lol, or col) that the fundamental revenue-generator would be the packed, smartly-routed tour with plenty of juicy ticket and ancillary markups and expensive (and valuable) branding and advertising to boot.
          So is that all “butts in seats”? No. Is that a big part of it? Yes.

      • Ghost of Rick Ross

        Criticisms appreciated. I did oversimplify the mission of that acquisition, though I would agree with ‘Ghost of Rick Ross’ (lol, or col) that the fundamental revenue-generator would be the packed, smartly-routed tour with plenty of juicy ticket and ancillary markups and expensive (and valuable) branding and advertising to boot.
        So is that all “butts in seats”? No. Is that a big part of it? Yes.

  13. R.P.

    Before you can even blink, some algorithm at stubhub or some other dirty ticket broker site has snatched up all the regularly priced tickets. By the time I can find where to get one the prices are quadrupled -_-. That’s my reason for not attending more concerts this year.

  14. shunt berlin

    its easy: heaps of mediocre/shitty bands/artists vs. a very few that get sold out in a minute.