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The age-old question: Are there too many festivals? Not in Norway, says its promoters' association, where the booming festival market is driving a thriving live scene
By Jon Chapple on 15 Jun 2017
Live music has grown to become the most popular cultural activity in Norway, with six out of ten Norwegians seeing a concert in 2016, new data reveals.
Sixty-two per cent of Norwegians attended a gig last year, and 22% said they are “very interested” in live music, according to Statistics Norway’s latest Norsk Kulturbarometer (Norwegian Culture Barometer), which has tracked the popularity of various forms of arts, culture and entertainment in the Scandinavian nation since 1991.
Seeing concerts is now a more popular pastime than visiting sporting events, theatrical shows, museums, art galleries, libraries, ballet and opera, reveals the latest Kulturbarometer, with live music only bested if the criteria is opened up to include cinemas (72% of people).
The national proportion of concertgoers has hovered around the 60% mark for much of the 2000s, up from 48% in 1991, 55% in 1994 and 57% in 1997. It was 61% at the time of the last Kulturbarometer, in 2012. On average, Norwegians went to 2.5 concerts in 2016.
The most noticeable trend compared to 2012 is the rise in concertgoing among 45- to 66-year-olds. It was 60% four years ago, rising to 65% in 2016; also up is the figure among 25- to 44-year-olds (64%, from 61% in 2012) and 67- to 79-year-olds (51%), while it has fallen among 9–15s (55%, down from 59%) and 16–24s (64%, down from 75%).
Seeing concerts is now a more popular pastime than visiting sporting events, theatrical shows, museums, art galleries, libraries, ballet and opera
The new figures from Norway are around 20% higher than those across the Skagerrak, with 41% of Danes having seen a concert in the same year.
Torbjørn Heitmann Valum, managing director of the Norwegian Concert Promoters’ Association (NKA), says the figures “correspond well with our experiences”.
“Over the last ten years we have doubled our membership, from 150 to 300 concert promoters,” he comments. “The concert business has become much more professional since the 1990s.”
Valum highlights the growth in festivals as contributing to the the rise in concertgoers, especially older fans. “There has been an explosion in the number of festivals since the 2000s,” he says. “This means a wider audience are exposed to live music and continue to seek out concerts throughout the year.”
The value of the Norwegian live music business grew to US$440 million, a four-year high, in 2015, the most recently available data – although the weak krone remains a challenge for the festival market.
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