With one flip of the calendar, we step further into prime concert, festival, and live event season. Last year was a big year for the live entertainment industry following years of pandemic cancellations and empty venues. One of the world’s largest event promoters, Live Nation Entertainment, reported record concert attendance in 2022 from over 43,600 events – more than double the number of events in 2021. 

A symphony of sounds is once again gracing venues across the country, yet the flat notes of inflation remain a fact of American life as well. How are Americans balancing desire to see their performers around the ballooning cost to do so?

The beat goes on: More Americans are planning to attend live concerts this summer.

Concert season attendance looks healthy. According to the latest CivicScience data, more than 2-in-5 U.S. adults (44%) intend to see at least one live concert or performance this summer, up from 41% from May 2022 (excluding those ‘not sure yet’ about their concert plans). Much of this increase comes from those who plan to attend between 1-2 shows, with 29% planning to do so – a four percentage-point increase over last year.  

It’s worth noting that 33% report they’ve already been to at least one concert so far in 2023 – a three percentage-point increase from last year.

Inflation still strikes a chord as consumers consider live entertainment.

Although there is a willingness to attend live concerts again, inflation remains a formidable roadblock for live entertainment in general. A majority of consumers plan to reduce spending on most forms of live entertainment (54%). Among those planning to scale back, movies, concerts, and sports events (64%) face the greatest risk of cuts. Amusement parks (62%) and festivals (59%) follow closely behind.

But it won’t stop this party: Festival intent is on the ups.

Similar to concerts, overall festival intent is also rising. CivicScience data show 27% plan on attending or have already attended at least one music or cultural festival this year, up from 20% in 2022. Examining some of the larger festivals and gatherings, New Orleans Mardi Gras and Coachella, both of which occurred earlier in the year, remain the most popular. Desert arts fest Burning Man, slated for late summer, follows behind with Austin-based South by Southwest from March. Another noteworthy trend this year is the sizable shift toward ‘other’ festivals, up from 44% last year.

Festivals can be an expensive venture where the average ticket price can run from $200 to upwards of $600 (Coachella’s general admission tickets started at $549), in addition to travel and other expenses – a potentially tough ask in the current inflationary environment. With 57% interested in ‘other’ festivals, cost-conscious consumers may be looking for alternative festival options that don’t break the bank.

Ticketmaster takes center stage for live event ticket purchasing.

Ticketmaster, which is owned by Live Nation Entertainment, holds the overwhelming advantage among concert/event goers with 49% primarily using the service. StubHub, a secondhand ticket reseller, is the next closest at 12%. Twenty percent opt to use other ticketing platforms.

The dominance comes despite a rough November presale for Taylor Swift’s “Eras” tour that left millions empty-handed and resulted in a Senate hearing for Ticketmaster.  

A possible explanation for the high percentage of Ticketmaster usage? The prevalence of venues exclusively partnered with Ticketmaster. Among NFL stadiums, for example, 93% have exclusive agreements with Ticketmaster.

Tune up with more CivicScience InsightStore insights:

  • A majority (64%) of Gen Z adults aged 18-24 plan to go to a concert this year, the inverse of the 55+ where 64% have no plans to see a show.
  • Among employed U.S. adults, nearly two-thirds (64%) of remote workers plan on going to at least one concert this summer, compared to 54% of hybrid workers, while in-person workers (42%) are the least likely to be a concert goer this summer
  • Thirty percent of men plan to attend or have been to a festival so far this year, compared to 24% of women.

Concerts and live performances appear to be on a continued trajectory toward a pandemic rebound. That said, inflation is limiting many to just one or two concerts and away from some of the larger festivals. Will improving weather and slightly easing inflation be enough to boost the live entertainment industry to new heights in the summer?

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