A new study by the Live Entertainment Industry Forum (LEIF) shows Australian punters deeply miss live events, with a vast majority of respondents saying they would be “impacted” if live entertainment events did not return in 2021.
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The study was commissioned by the LEIF and developed by Ernst & Young. It found that just 5 percent of a total 35,418 Australian respondents said they would “not be impacted if live entertainment events did not return in 2021”.
NME understands the study entailed a survey sent to people who had purchased tickets to events organised by companies including Ticketmaster, Ticketek, TEG and Live Nation. The heads of the latter two companies are part of LEIF’s executive committee.
70 per cent of the survey’s respondents identified as female, 29.2 per cent as male and 0.2 per cent as non-binary. A vast majority were split between New South Wales (at 31 per cent) and Victoria (at 27 per cent).
In recent months, government restrictions have required shows that do go ahead to abide by social distancing regulations, forcing many venues to significantly reduce their capacities. Artists have found some success with their touring efforts by splitting dates into early and late shows to account for smaller crowds – however, as the LEIF study notes, punters are keen to see venues return to their full capacities.
Over 80 per cent of the survey’s respondents said they wanted to see more events with greater crowd numbers by November. 12 per cent, however, said they were uncomfortable attending live events with a large crowd. Over 50 per cent said the size of an event’s crowd had no bearing on their feelings towards it.
Three-quarters of respondents said live events have a significant positive impact on their mental health, and consider them an important part of their work, social and family lives.
One participant wrote that as a disabled concertgoer, live events are “often the only time I leave the house and get dressed nicely in a month, and the only time I get to socialise without focus on my disability”.
The survey also found that over 80 per cent of concertgoers consider international acts to be a “significant” or “very significant” factor in deciding whether they’re willing to buy tickets.
In a statement, Geoff Jones, CEO of TEG and Co-Chair of the LEIF, stressed that statistic as a reason for the Federal and State & Territory Governments to collaborate with event promoters so that international artists and crews, provided they’re fully vaccinated, can enter the country and work in COVID-safe travel areas.
“We already know that international superstars love to tour Australia and that we offer them the best fans, the best weather and the best food in the world,” Jones said.
“We also know that shows by international artists generate 80 per cent of concert ticket sales by value. They also generate the greatest economic benefit for our country through tourism, travel, hospitality, and other industries, and to our own industry which has been ravaged by the pandemic.
“EY’s findings show that Aussie fans are hungry for the world’s biggest performers to return to our shores and tour our beautiful country.”
Roger Field, President of Live Nation’s Asia-Pacific arm and fellow Co-Chair of the LEIF, noted that Australia is behind when it comes to the entertainment industry’s return to a robust international presence.
“Other international markets are beginning to reopen and offer alternative touring options for artists,” he said, “So it is absolutely critical that we reach [a] rapid alignment with the Federal and State & Territory Governments at National Cabinet level to ensure Australia does not miss out on this vital opportunity for the live entertainment industry to recover from the worst year in its long and storied history.”
Evelyn Richardson, CEO of Live Performance Australia, backed Jones in saying that vaccinations are critical in the bouncing back of Australia’s entertainment industry. She encouraged punters to make an effort to get vaccinated, saying: “If we want keep our theatre and venue doors open, and we want to see our favourite performers on stage, the most important thing we can do right now is to get vaccinated.
“Not only will it keep our communities, families, friends and colleagues safe, it will ensure the future of our industry. Don’t wait. Do it now so we can welcome the world’s greatest acts back to the country that they love visiting and performing in.”
Find more information from LEIF on the study here. NME understands the study is not being released in full as some information within is sensitive to the companies involved.
As cases of COVID-19 continue to surge – with lockdowns currently in place for New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, and hard border closures for other states and territories – the live entertainment industry has taken a major blow. A slew of tours, festivals and other events have been either put on ice or outright cancelled, including, most recently, Brisbane’s annual BIGSOUND conference, Sydney’s “light, music & ideas” festival Vivid, and headline tours by Polish Club, The Vanns and Confidence Man.