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Aus Teenagers Shying Away From Live Music: How Can We Fix It?

21 February 2024 | 6:00 am | Ellie Robinson

Music Victoria have released a new report exploring the concertgoing habits of people under 35.

'Perceptions Of Live Music: Insights From Young Victorians'

'Perceptions Of Live Music: Insights From Young Victorians' (Music Victoria)

Music Victoria have released a new report titled Perceptions Of Live Music: Insights From Young Victorians, detailing research into the concertgoing habits of people under 35.

The organisation found a mix of results – some that offer a hopeful look at the future of events in Victoria, and some that are sure to put promotors on edge – but came to the general consensus that live music is indeed still crucial for the state’s entertainment sector and economy.

Data shown in the report was pulled from an online survey held between July 27 and August 7, 2023, with information shared by some 500 people aged 16-25 (split between five age brackets, each with 100 respondents). The aim was “to capture diverse perspectives, considering factors such as regional distinctions”, with a specific focus on “understanding the dynamics among the youngest audiences, particularly those aged 16-25”.

Music Victoria also noted that their research “sought to uncover the motivations, barriers, and preferences influencing the decisions of individuals aged 16-35 regarding live music participation, exploring the broader realm of live music attendance patterns and perceptions among young Victorians.”

Right off the bat, the survey found that people’s first live music experience is unequivocally important in shaping their “overall passion for music”, with 78 percent of respondents agreeing as such. 80 percent of respondents said they were keen to attend at least one live music event per year – but there were some barriers keeping them from being regular gig-goers; 63 percent of respondents agreed that “live music is expensive compared to other forms of entertainment”, and only 58 percent said those issues wouldn’t stop them from buying concert tickets.

Also notable were disparities between the age groups of concertgoers – respondents aged 16-18 said they were less likely to attend live music events, which Music Victoria says is “possibly due to a combination of factors, including limited venue options due to liquor licensing restrictions and financial constraints”. Those aged 19-22 also showed a staunch keenness for music festivals, but that excitement faced a “significant drop-off” with the 16-18 bracket.

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42 percent of those aged 16-18 said they attend small festivals (which host less than 5,000 punters) at least once a year, with just 39 percent going to larger events (hosting more than 5,000); in comparison, 59% of those in the 19-22 bracket support small festivals, and 54% support larger ones.

As for one-shot headlines shows and tours held in venues, the 23-25 demographic really came in clutch, attending the most shows at venues of all sizes. They were only usurped by the 19-22 group when it came to dance venues. That group, too, was the only one to have more than 10 percent say they’d attended a show at a local venue in the past month. Ergo, they’re seen as the most reliable group of regular concertgoers.

All in all, Music Victoria pointed to “a healthy sign of engagement” with live music events in Victoria, with 82 percent of all respondents having bought at least one ticket to a concert in the past year. 70 percent of them said they’d bought at least one ticket to a music festival, too, and 65 percent said they’d bought merchandise from their favourite artists. 52 percent went the extra mile and shelled out for those artists’ recorded music (this notably doesn’t include streaming services).

Financially speaking, young Victorians seem to be dealing with the trend of ticket prices rising: 93 percent of all respondents said they spent $51 or more on their most recent purchase of concert tickets, and 35 percent said they’d spent more than $200. An impressive 18 percent spent between $200 and $299, and 16% spent the same amount on festival tickets in their most recent purchase.

When asked why they didn’t go to more concerts, 22 percent of respondents pointed to a lack of energy, 21 percent noted lacklustre public transport options, 19 percent highlighted the value for money a concert offers, and 19 percent said they were pulling back on all types of events. On the other hand, 15 percent of respondents said they faced no obstacles in their concertgoing pursuits.

The current cost-of-living crisis has greatly impacted the concertgoing habits of young Victorians. 73 percent of respondents agreed with the sentiment, “I am trying to reduce my spending to only the essentials at the moment” (compared to 18 percent answering neutrally, and nine percent disagreeing), and 67 percent agreed they “have less disposable income to spend on tickets” (versus 23 percent answering neutral and ten percent disagreeing). Furthermore, 63 percent of respondents agreed that “live music feels more expensive compared to other forms of entertainment” (26 percent neutral, ten percent disagreeing).

Looking to the future, 38 percent of all respondents said they had tickets to one or more upcoming concerts, and 24 percent said they had plans to buy tickets for a future concert. 17 percent said they had tickets for an upcoming festival, 15 percent said they planned to attend a festival they didn’t yet have tickets for. Another 15 percent said they had no current plans to attend any concerts int he immediate future, but did expect to attend one at some point. Only eight percent answered the same way when it came to festivals.

In closing, Music Victoria affirmed there is still “appetite for live music” among young Victorians, “but the economic conditions are a challenge, with people cutting back their spend and limiting the times they go out.” They expounded, “Against the backdrop of missed opportunities for all age gigs during the pandemic, and combined with overall cost of living challenges, it is key that we help the current and next generation of music fans to engage at this formative life stage.”

In a press statement, Music Victoria CEO Simone Schinkel said the music industry has “an opportunity to motivate young people to actively engage with live music experiences at an early age”, which will “enhance their passive music awareness across digital platforms like YouTube, Spotify or TikTok”.

Also speaking on the record was 17-year-old Zack Wileman, who gushed that “the feeling of a live show is completely different to listening to it on vinyl or Spotify”. He opined, “Live music has so many extra surprises, like the band improvising – it makes the sound more enjoyable to hear. I love going to gigs with mates and seeing the way an audience reacts. As they cheer and sing along, it feels even more pure – it really confirms what music is all about.”

Wileman also expressed his frustration at the recent cancellation of this year’s Groovin The Moo festival. He said: “I was looking forward to heading to Bendigo to see international acts like Wu-Tang Clan's GZA and The Kooks. It was going to be my first festival as an adult!”