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The Live Music Experience Dissected



On January 15th, 2023, we sent out an anonymous survey via social media to ask responders about their experiences with the live music scene. To understand what kind of individuals responded to our survey, we asked a few demographic questions, including their role in the music industry, age range, and location.

The majority of our responders identified themselves as attendees and press/media, but 20% of responders were part of the venue's team or musician's team. 80% of responders were in the 19-24 age range, 10% were 18 or younger, and the remaining 10% were in the 25-34 age range. 80% of responders lived in the United States, while 20% resided in other North & South American countries.

We separated the survey into two parts: The Workers & The Attendees. The live music industry workers filled out their section in addition to the attendees' portion, while those who did not work in the industry filled out only the attendees' portion.

The Workers Experience: Fans and Uncertainty

The workers were asked to rate their experience working in the live music scene on a scale of 1 to 10. The responses averaged 8/10.

Workers' Overall Experience: ★★★★☆

When asked about their favorite aspect of working in the live music industry, all of the responses were unique. Media workers mostly covered the ideas of witnessing fans in their happy place and being able to capture those moments, listening to new artists they wouldn't find without having worked the show, and being able to promote the music they love through their work. Some responders included meeting new people who share their passion for music. In conclusion, the fans are the overall favorite aspect of working in the industry.

When asked about their least favorite aspect of working in the industry, the responses were once again unique. An overall theme is the uncertainty that comes with working in this sort of industry. Responders mentioned the difficulty of finding paid work, media workers dealing with photographing shows from a general admission crowd when a photo pit is unavailable, the idea of someone not being able to appreciate your hard work, and the uncertainty that comes from this industry.

Workers were asked if there had been any sort of specific experiences that stopped them from working with a particular client, and most responded with no, but one responded with:

"Sexism or flakey-ness would be the main factors if I decide to not go through with a project/shoot. If a band is flakey and doesn’t respond, or if a manager changes their policies, etc., it is almost scary to commit to."

Sadly, these types of isolated incidents are not uncommon in the industry. I've had my own experiences with clients who were "flakey," similar to what this responder described, and it ruined my perspective of that client. Experiences like that are a huge turn-off when working with specific people in the industry. Sexism is also a general problem in life, but it definitely has some effect on the industry. Situations like these do not completely ruin the experience for the workers, as shown by the number of amazing things said about working in the live music industry, but they do show that there is a large room for improvement.

The Fans Experience: The Atmosphere and Crowd Etiquette

The fans were asked to rate their experience in the live music scene on a scale of 1 to 5. The responses averaged 4/5.

The Fans' Overall Experience: ★★★★☆

The responders ranged from 2022 being their first year attending shows to having over eight years of experience going to shows. Whether you're a rookie concertgoer or you live your life in the crowd of a live show, you're both experiencing the same concert with the same amount of enthusiasm. When asked their favorite aspect of live music, one responder answered:

"The whole environment, I love the idea of a bunch of strangers deciding to spend a day (2 hours if you only count the concert duration) together because they like the same thing. For at least two hours, you all feel like friends: You sing, you dance, scream, cry, all together, and all because of that person on the stage."

Live music truly connects people through the one thing the fans know they all have in common: their love for music. Making connections with an artist, making new friends, singing songs back at the artists, stunning visual performances, and making wonderful memories are all things responders said were their favorite things about experiencing live music.

Rohna via Nolan Fisher

However, the fans did find things about the live music experience they disliked. A lot of the responses mentioned the lack of concert etiquette. Concert etiquette is described in different ways depending on the genre of music. The most common among our responders was rock/metal/pop-punk music. The concert etiquette in these genres typically surrounds the safety of the crowd. For example: When there is a mosh pit and someone falls, everyone should pick them up as soon as possible to avoid injury; or when crowd surfers are present, you should simply try your best to hold them up, but the surfer should not be flailing about. Again, these etiquette rules are designed to keep concertgoers safe, and recently people are complaining more and more on the internet about these rules not being followed. Some users chalk it up to the new wave of alternative TikTok kids, which are unaware of the etiquette.

Aside from the lack of concert etiquette, there are other things that concertgoers dislike about the live show experience. Individuals disregarding "No Smoking/Vaping" rules, camping culture, fans who show up for the openers and don't stay to support the headliner, the disrespect toward venue/tour workers, and the chaos.

In addition to these general occurrences, we asked responders if they encountered any specific, positive or negative things that affected their live music experience. An overwhelming number of responses mentioned that when a musician had great interactions with the crowd, they were more likely to see those artists again. When asked if there had been anything that prevented them from seeing an artist they were really interested in seeing, responses varied, but generally hovered around the price of tickets and there not being a show close enough to where they lived.

The price of tickets has been on the rise for a while. I'll admit I semi-recently spent over four hundred dollars for a simple general admission ticket, which is ridiculous. This does have to do with the general economic inflation, but it also involved ticket scalpers and Ticketmaster adding unreasonable fees for using their service.

Despite these setbacks, the overall live music experience is one of a kind, and it's truly one of my favorite things the world has to offer. Musicians can have a large effect on someone's life through their music, and for people to experience it with the musician and other people who share that feeling... It's breathtaking.

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