There has been an explosion in live music in the UK, spending on concerts and festivals having exceeded that of traditional recording. The PRS estimates that in 2009 live music generated £896 million compared with £904 million for the recorded music industry. Glastonbury undoubtedly played its part but lavish concerts by music artists such as Led Zeppelin, Barbara Streisand, Take That and Rhianna on a regular basis have also lifted its profile and popularity.
This change has clearly been driven by the rapidly increasing number of festivals, 664 in 2008 up from a mere 12 in 2000. Britain now has more music events than any other country. People view them as fun and sociable and can spend as much as two or three weekends annually in attendance. Between 2003 and 2008 the percentage of adults aged 15 plus going to a rock concert once during the course of a year increased by half from 22.8% to 34.4%. New trends have emerged such as “picnic on the lawn” held at country estates, for example, Blenheim Palace.
Tickets sales increased by almost 20% to £1.9 billion in 2007, with nearly £1.05 billion spent on popular music concerts, £500 million on classical and £200 million on jazz. There has been a discernable shift in the age of those attending gigs with long established pop music acts such as Tom Jones, Bruce Springstein, The Monkees and Neil Diamond garnering the “grey giggers” market. These are people in their mid forties to mid sixties who are willing to pay higher prices for tickets.
The music industry itself has also undergone huge change as the internet has brought down the price of music. Indeed spending on recorded music reached its zenith at around £2 billion between 2001 and 2005. In the past, the focus was on LP’s and CD’s but album sales have crashed. Today with the triumph of the download and YouTube music, not forgetting free music, the price has fallen dramatically. Hence CD’s and downloads are seen more as promotional tools used to sell tickets and merchandise. Live music is where the profits lie. Before purchasing my tickets for live music events I often compare prices on outrate.co.uk.
There is a real danger that music for free and the corporatization of festivals will precipitate its final collapse.