LIVE study highlights ‘battle for next generation’
The pandemic’s impact on young people’s concert-going habits has been made clear by the latest study by UK live music industry umbrella group LIVE.
LIVE’s Deep dive into consumer trends Q2 report is based on a nationally representative survey carried out by insight agency Opinium, which collected 2,000 responses in November 2022 and a further 2,000 responses in April this year.
While the previous report highlighted how a section of customers had got out of the habit of attending gigs and others were attending less frequently due to financial pressures, the 2023 findings are more positive.
Among the headline findings are that 16% of respondents are now attending fewer events overall, compared to 22% five months earlier. Ticket-buying attitudes also appear to be softening, with 27% (a 4% decrease) of participants saying tickets are too expensive, 19% (-3%) saying everything feels expensive post pandemic, 18% (-4%) saying they have less disposable income to spend on tickets and 15% (-4%) saying they were trying to reduce their spending to only essentials.
However, concerns remain around nurturing young fans, denied the opportunity to develop a gig-going habit by lockdown. LIVE chief economist Chris Carey tells IQ the findings highlight the “battle for the next generation of lifelong music fans”.
“The world has changed in terms of convenience – people expect things to be available last minute and don’t plan as far ahead”
“Because they never got the habit, they’re going to less events overall,” says Carey. “We can make sure we’re promoting the right stuff for them and putting on things that are cost-effective.”
The 18-24 and 25-34 age groups also retained the biggest concerns around Covid, indicating they were put off buying tickets because they were worried they would get ill and be unable to attend the show.
“It’s a bigger barrier for them than for the older groups,” says Carey. “Gigs were banned for health reasons. [To them], gigs were dangerous, other people were dangerous. And I think we’re still living with some of that.”
Elsewhere, the trend towards late sales looks set to continue as 18% of 18-24-year-olds and 16% of 25-34-year-olds said they buy tickets later because they were confident tickets would still be available.
“People feeling confident they’re going to be able to attend regardless is an odd dynamic for the live music industry,” says Carey. “The world has changed in terms of convenience; people expect things to be available last minute and don’t plan as far ahead. But I also think that dynamic of, ‘tickets will still be available’, had never been true before, and now it has become true sometimes.
“It’s quite a risky dynamic for us and is something we’ve got to manage quite carefully – particularly given that selling tickets out early helps with cashflow and getting the next shows on. If people are waiting, it has a dramatic impact on the business overall.”
“Younger fans are more likely to not show because of the expense of the whole night”
No-shows have also persisted post pandemic, according to the study, with only 62% of people definitely using tickets. A key point for Carey is that 6% say they did not attend because of the expense of the whole night.
“That is hugely problematic for us and partly drives people towards having one giant night out, rather than four or five nights out,” he says. “It also raises questions about the middle market and how much support they’re getting. Is there a risk that the middle market becomes prohibitively expensive, not because of the ticket price, but because of the cost of everything around it?
“And is there an opportunity there? Can we bundle food and drinks with tickets to get people in the room spending at our venues and help soften the blow of the cost of that whole night? Or getting the money upfront so they get two beers on arrival? Or 20% off a burger once you’re in the venue? That’s something we possibly could be doing.”
He adds: “Younger fans are more likely to not show because of the expense of the whole night. If we jump back five years, you would expect 18-24, 25-34 to be your core audience. But at the moment they’re the ones with the core challenges and that’s something we should be very aware of.”
Turning his attention the next edition of the report, Carey, whose FastForward conference returns to London with an expanded two-day programme from 19-20 September, has a number of objectives in mind.
“I would hope to see that the Covid concerns continue to soften and the attitude to ticket buying improving slightly, and that enough people have got back to their first event since Covid by that time,” he says. “You have to experience it to remember just how good it is and I hope, after this summer, we will have many more people who have experienced it again and have renewed excitement for it. And that will boost us and bolster us.”
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Music economist Chris Carey joins insight agency Opinium
London-based insight and market research agency Opinium Research has appointed music economist Chris Carey as head of music, media and entertainment.
According to the agency, the new team will focus on “the changing relationships fans have with entertainment and creators”, starting with a focus on live music and the recorded music industry, before looking at theatre, comedy and podcasts.
Carey’s tenure in the music industry includes global data roles at Universal and EMI, as well as consulting for Spotify, Sony, The O2 and Hipgnosis songs.
He also founded the FastForward music conference, taking place in London, Amsterdam and Sydney.
“I’m excited to help businesses of all sizes harness data to make better decisions and equip creators”
James Endersby, MD at Opinium, says: “After yet another year of strong growth Opinium is thrilled to be attracting the most ambitious new talent to support its existing and future clients in the music and entertainment space.
“Chris has a huge passion for the creative industries, and I’m absolutely delighted he has chosen to join our agency, and I know our clients will feel the same.”
Carey adds: “Consumption data is abundant in the entertainment industry, but using data in the right ways is still a complex proposition.
“It’s crucial that data empowers the creative, rather than hinders it. I’m excited to help businesses of all sizes harness data to make better decisions and equip creators to deepen engagement with fans and maximise their impact.”
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Chris Carey joins LIVE as chief economist
Live music Industry Venues and Entertainment (LIVE) has appointed Chris Carey to the role of chief economist, as the umbrella organisation expands with the formation of several specialist subcommittees.
Carey joins the LIVE team following stints as global insight director at EMI and Universal Music Group and senior economist at PRS for Music. With Tim Chambers, he co-authored Valuing Live Entertainment and UK Live Music: At a cliff edge, two key LIVE reports which underpinned consultations with the British government around support for the live sector. Carey will also retain his current position as head of international marketing at TicketSwap in Amsterdam.
“I’m very proud to be joining the LIVE team at this critical time,” says Carey. “I have always been passionate about the UK live music sector and about the people who work all hours to make gigs and festivals happen. As the live music industry moves from crisis to reopening, I’ll be working closely with members to make sure there is a strong analytical foundation to help underpin a speedy, sustainable recovery.”
LIVE, which launched officially in February, is a federation of 13 UK live music industry associations representing 3,150 businesses, over 4,000 artists and 2,000 backstage workers.
“I’ll be working … to make sure there is a strong analytical foundation to help underpin a speedy, sustainable recovery”
Its newly announced subcommittees include:
- LIVE Touring, chaired by Marshall Arts promoter Craig Stanley, which is coordinating the live sector’s response to leaving the EU. In addition to producing updatable resources for performers and crew, the group recently coordinated a call for a transitional support package from government
- LIVE Venues, chaired by Lucy Noble, artistic and commercial director at the Royal Albert Hall, which is tasked with the reopening of the UK’s venues
- LIVE Green, chaired by John Langford, COO of AEG Europe, which is uniting leading sustainability practitioners across the sector to produce a single environmental vision for live music
The fourth subcommittee, scheduled to launch next month, will focus on equality, diversity and inclusivity, and is convened by Jane Beese, head of music for the Manchester International Festival.
“We are living through an extraordinary period in history,” comments Beese. “The potential for reflection and creative thinking on how we live our lives and run our businesses is immense, so I’m really excited to take on this role overseeing the LIVE diversity, equality and inclusion group. I look forward to the changes we can bring about as an industry.”
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170,000 UK live music jobs lost by end of 2020
More than 26,000 permanent jobs will be lost in the live music industry before the end of the year if government support is withdrawn, new research published today (21 October) reveals.
In addition, 144,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) roles, including self-employed and freelance workers, will have effectively ceased to exist by the end of 2020, the new report, UK live music: At a cliff edge, shows.
Revenue into the industry has been almost zero since March, with a fall of 81% in 2020 compared to 2019 – four times the national UK average, where reductions across industries run at around 20%.
At a cliff edge – conducted by Chris Carey and Tim Chambers for Media Insight Consulting on behalf of LIVE (Live music Industry Venues and Entertainment), an umbrella group representing the UK live music industry – also reveals the positive contribution made by the Culture Recovery Fund, which has offered a lifeline to a range of businesses, but whose impact is tempered by 80% of employees still being reliant on the furlough scheme, which ends this month.
The report’s findings include:
- In 2019 live music supported 210,000 full-time equivalent roles, as well as tens of thousands of freelancers
- In 2019, live music contributed £4.5 billion to the UK economy
- In 2020, revenue in the live music business will fall by 81%, and revenue has been close to zero since March
- 76% of live music employees were utilising the furlough scheme, as of 31 August 2020
- 50% of permanent roles will be lost by the end of the year (26,100 jobs), while temporary and freelance roles have already been decimated
- The Culture Recovery Fund has had a significant impact, safeguarding around 10,000 at-risk employees (this is reflected in the headline statistics)
“This research shows clearly that the entire ecosystem is being decimated”
Following the lockdown in March, and the ongoing government restrictions on venues and events, many of those working within the live music sector have received no income at all. The new tier-two and three restrictions put further limitations on the sector reopening, while the sector is currently excluded from the government’s extended Job Support Scheme.
With recent indications from the prime minister that severe restrictions could be in place for a further six months, meaning a full year with next-to-no live music or revenues, the associations represented by Live – including the Entertainment Agents’ Association, Association for Electronic Music (AFEM), Association of Festival Organisers (AFO), Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), Concert Promoters Association (CPA), Music Managers Forum (MMF), National Arenas Association (NAA), Production Services Association (PSA) and Music Venue Trust (MVT) – are calling on the government to ensure the live business can benefit from new support measures.
Phil Bowdery, CPA chair, comments: “We were one of the first sectors to close and we will be one of the last to reopen. We are currently caught in a catch 22, where we are unable to operate due to government restrictions but are excluded from the extended Job Support Scheme as the furlough comes to an end. If businesses can’t access that support soon, then the majority of our specialist, highly trained workforce will be gone.”
“Those who have often found themselves overlooked and left behind throughout the last six months are the freelancers and self-employed – the people up and do the country that we rely on to bring us the live experiences we love,” adds PSA general manager Andy Lenthall. “Things are becoming increasingly desperate for a great many people in the industry and government needs to recognise that these crucial individuals need support.”
““Things are becoming increasingly desperate for a great many people in the industry”
Economist Chris Carey, who co-authored the report, says: “From the artists on stage, to the venues and the many specialist roles and occupations that make live music happen, this research shows clearly that the entire ecosystem is being decimated.”
The report includes sector-specific data on artists, managers, promoters, booking agents, venues, festivals, ticketing companies and technical suppliers, as well as case studies from some of those affected and comment from industry leaders.
“The Culture Recovery Fund is a help, especially to grassroots music venues,” continues Carey. “However, larger companies are going to be hit harder, and without ongoing government investment in protecting this industry, the UK will lose its place as a cultural leader in live entertainment.
“Moreover, the skills we lose in this time will significantly hinder the sector’s ability to recover and return to driving economic growth and supplying UK jobs.”
Download the report here.
This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.
Chris Carey joins TicketSwap as head of intl marketing
Ethical secondary ticketer TicketSwap has appointed music industry analyst Chris Carey as head of international marketing.
As the founder and CEO of London-based Media Insight Consulting, Carey has worked with clients including Spotify, Sony and the O2 Arena. Prior to starting the consultancy firm, he served as global insight director at EMI Music and Universal Records.
Carey will bring experience in marketing, research, data analysis and consumer insights to aid TicketSwap’s marketing and growth strategy.
“I’m excited to bring my background and industry insights to TicketSwap and bridge the gap between talent, events and the secondary ticketing marketplace,” says Carey.
“I’m excited to bring my background and industry insights to TicketSwap and bridge the gap between talent, events and the secondary ticketing marketplace”
“TicketSwap’s marketplace offers the best fan experience and is rapidly growing internationally, and I am thrilled to be a part of that success story.”
“We have been on a steep growth journey since we started six years ago and I’m proud to add Chris to our team as we continue to professionalise and expand even further,” adds Hans Ober, CEO of TicketSwap.
“I’m excited to see how the combination of his data-driven methodology and international experience will fuel our marketing strategies in 2020 and beyond.”
Over four million fans have used TicketSwap to buy and sell tickets since its 2012 inauguration. The platform caps the price of resold tickets at 20% above face value, working with over 300 partners to help venues and promoters to take more control of secondary ticketing.
FastForward London adds to 2018 speakers
FastForward London today announced the second line-up of speakers for its sophomore event, taking place at the British Library on 28 September.
Delegates from Warner Chappell (Eric Mackay, EVP of digital strategy), Lewis Silkin (partner Cliff Fluet), Abbey Road Studios (head of audio products Mirek Styles), ATC Live (agent Matt Hanner), War Child (Rich Clark, head of music and entertainment) and Kilimanjaro Live (Karma Bertelsen, marketing manager) join the likes of Sony Music, Global Radio, AWAL, Ferocious Talent and Sony/ATV Music Publishing as speakers for the future-focused conference, which is aimed at, but not exclusive to, under-35s.
Chris Carey, CEO of Media Insight Consulting and founder of FastForward, says: “We are hugely excited to return to London this year. Whether you’re an artist looking to bring together a team to release your record, an executive at a record label or a promoter, FastForward is the perfect platform to meet and learn from the most progressive thinkers in our industry.”
“FastForward is the perfect platform to meet and learn from the most progressive thinkers in our industry”
Panel and keynote topics in 2018 include the art of songwriting, how to sell out shows, the future of music and technology, the relationship between data and A&R, video strategy and radio and an insight into how music can effect positive change in tackling poverty and international violence.
“We’re proud to bring together a brilliant network of music lovers who are delivering relevant and practical insights to foster a more effective and future-proofed music industry,” adds Carey.
FastForward debuted in Amsterdam in 2016, and now comprises five conferences in Amsterdam, London and Sydney.
4 ways blockchain can disrupt the live industry
While much has been made of the potential for blockchain – the technology behind cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin – to revolutionise the recorded music industry, the same isn’t true in the live sector.
Articles by the major tech and business publications (Forbes, Fortune, TechCrunch et al.) have largely focused on implications for the online streaming of recorded music, citing the benefits of ‘smart contracts’ wherein the owner(s) of songs will be paid automatically for their usage. However, while wider adoption of blockchain may, as Imogen Heap suggests, throw a much-needed lifeline to musicians struggling with paltry Spotify pay-outs, it could also radically transform the (comparatively more lucrative) live industry…
In the same way blockchain databases monitor where a music recording has been used, the technology can be used to track the ownership of a paperless concert ticket.
Chris Carey, founder of Media Insight Consulting and the recent FastForward conference (at which IQ news editor Jon Chapple chaired a ticketing panel), suggests blockchain can facilitate the “legitimate resale of tickets by having a clear chain”. Speaking to IQ’s Eamonn Forde, Carey says by tracking secondary sales, ticket agencies could provide artists and promoters with a cut of each resale: “Tracking the ticket through its journey could actually create revenue at different steps. There is an argument to say that if you can monitor transactions through technology, the artist could get a share of the upside at every step of the way.”
Several yet-to-launch start-ups, including Amsterdam-based GUTS and the UK’s Lava, are already using the technology to bolster the both the data-gathering and anti-touting capabilities of paperless tickets.
GUTS Tickets founder Maarten Bloemers echoes Carey’s suggestion that blockchain can be used by artists to track ownership of a ticket, saying the technology “makes it possible to follow the lifecycle of a ticket from A to Z”. He tells Dutch paper De Telegraaf he had the idea for the company after hearing a discussion about black-market tickets on a radio programme. “Someone [on the show] said no one can guarantee the authenticity of tickets,” he explains, “and I immediately thought of blockchain.”
“We’re looking at a world where knowing the complete provenance of the ticket is a good thing,” adds Benji Rogers, co-founder and CEO of dotBlockchain Music (dotBC). “Unless, of course, you’re trying to hide something…”
Levelling the PROing field
Perhaps the most important live application of blockchain could be to give PROs a shot in the arm at a time when an increasing number of rightsholders are choosing to bypass collective licensing altogether in favour of collecting public performance royalties directly.
Rogers – unlike, for example, Mark Knopfler – believes there is “still a place for PROs to make large deals on behalf of artists”, but says they face the challenge of “not [being] competitive today”. (Little surprise, perhaps, when many are more than a century old: the UK’s Performing Right Society was founded in 1914.)
“They’re using tech not built for the size and scale of what’s coming at them,” he explains.
The Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (Socan) recently became the first PRO to partner with dotBC. Eric Baptiste, the CEO of Socan – which represents more than 135,000 rightsholders and recently saw collections from live performances grow to a record high – said last month: “We are convinced that it is possible to address payment and rights inefficiencies […] that have been a drag on the entire ecosystem for far too long.” He added: “The encouraging work of dotBC has the potential to unlock enormous value for our members”.
Rogers says PROs making use of blockchain technology will be able to compete more effectively by offering a better service to their membership. Comparing PROs to trains running on different gauges of track, he prophesies that in future collection societies will “need to work on a common rail”: “If we build the perfect sound format [.bc], we build the rail and everyone can ride on same track.”
DotBlockchain Music, then, “allows [PROs] to work together while remaining competitive,” says Rogers. “They can then compete based on how good their accounting is, how good their data side is…
“We’re looking at a world where knowing the complete provenance of the ticket is a good thing”
Another potential application of blockchain in the live space is to enable artists and promoters to broadcast their shows live safe in the knowledge copyright owners are being paid.
Writing in IQ last year, Sziget Festival’s András Berta was enthusiastic about live streaming as a way to reach more fans, but said there are concerns about the complexities involved in licensing live streams. “In 2016, I think we still face a grey [area] when it comes to clearing streaming rights,” he wrote, “simply because the industry is far from being homogeneous. Different players hold different cards, and this can result in a losing hand in many cases.”
By using dotBC’s codec (.bc), which binds writer metadata to the track, for music files, Rogers explains festivals like Sziget will be free to live-stream on sites such as Facebook and YouTube – and artists able to sell recordings straight after the show – with the writers receiving owed royalties automatically.
Rogers, also a musician, relates an anecdote about his experience licensing live recordings. Following a concert in which his band played two covers (The Cars and Gram Parsons), he paid the Harry Fox Agency to purchase the rights to distribute a recording of the show. “We said we’d sell maybe 1,000,” he explains. “We gave them $2,500 and never heard anything else.”
There was, he says, “no itemisation or monetisation” on the bill – theoretically, the band could have sold 10,000 copies and Harry Fox might never have known. With blockchain, conversely, there is a “bulletproof digital asset” that ensures ownership of songs is always “anchored back to the writers”.
A new rights reality
Like live streaming, filming and distributing shows in virtual reality (VR) is being tipped as a new revenue stream for the promoters of the future, with recent research finding early VR adopters outspend the average American 2:1 on live events.
However, Rogers says VR is also currently a licensing nightmare, with a traditional sync licence – which grants the licensee the rights to synchronise music with visual media – insufficient for a live VR gig, where the setlist is liable to change.
“How do I license a VR concert,” asks Rogers, “if I don’t know what songs are going to be played?”
Rogers says that, “right now, sound recordings” – master recordings, typically owned by labels, as opposed to the copyrights to the compositions themselves, usually administered by a publisher – “hold supremacy”, but in future “PROs [performance rights organisations] are going to have to do a deal with the publishing side of things” to offer more flexible licences for new experiences like VR shows.
One company leveraging the blockchain to do just that – again backed by Imogen Heap – is Ujo Music, which aims to provide a “shared infrastructure for all music services”, independent of the traditional label/publisher/licensing axis.
“If we build a common language for music, we can scale the business infinitely”
While blockchain offers tremendous opportunities for promoters, artists, ticketing companies and PROs, Gregor Pryor, co-chair of the global entertainment and media industry group at legal firm Reed Smith, told IQ in issue 62 its actual take-up in live may stymied by the fact most people at the top end the top end of the concert business are actually making money.
“Live has probably been the place that artists have been running to when their digital revenues have been dropping,” he said in late 2015. “The live industry has been nowhere near as disrupted by digital as the record industry has – in fact, it has probably benefited. There has to be a reason for them to adopt it [blockchain].
“In the world of streaming royalty payments,” Pryor suggests, “there is much more of an incentive and impetus to adopt change. There is not any driving force behind change in live.”
However, as underlined above, much has changed since then. With growing unease around the state of the secondary ticket market, and the emergence of direct licensing and new, non-traditional PROs – such as Germany’s GWVR, which gives concert promoters a cut of the royalties from recordings – technology, as in so many other walks of life, may indeed provide the answer.
As it stands, music has “no common language,” concludes Rogers. “Email has POP3, Skype runs on VoIP [voice over IP]… If we build a common language for music – the perfect sound format – we can scale the business infinitely.”