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Five data-driven insights about music fans during COVID-19

It’s now been around 10 weeks since physical distancing measures went into place to protect people from COVID-19. With them came the cancellation of concerts, festivals, conferences and just about every other music-related activity that any of us had hoped to enjoy face-to-face in the foreseeable future.

Since the beginning of the lockdown, arts organizations have been conducting surveys to get at the needs of artists in the new world order.  Now we’re starting to see some hard facts and scientific data related to the fans’ perspective.  Here’s what we’ve learned.

  1. Music streaming is down in general but streaming of folk music is up

A report from the subscription service BuzzAngle, which was reported on Quartz, reveals that – perhaps counterintuitively – on-demand music streaming through services like Spotify was down 10 per cent in the U.S. between the end of February and mid-April.

However, streams of folk music specifically were up by 1.7 per cent. In fact, folk was one of only three genres to see increased streams during this time, the others being classical and children’s (children’s music, perhaps unsurprisingly, saw far and away the biggest increase). Latin music was down 26 per cent and Reggae was down six.

Quartz suggests that part of the reason for the drop in streaming is that much streaming is done while commuting, and fewer people are commuting right now.  So perhaps what this really tells us is that a larger than average share of the folk audience streams their music at home.

  1. Canadians are watching and listening to more music

A scientific poll by Abacus Data for Music Canada found that 35 per cent of Canadians reported listening to more music as a whole than before the pandemic started. Thirty-one per cent said they were watching more music videos and video content from musicians, and 24 per cent said they were watching more concert recordings.

  1. Lots of Canadians are watching livestreaming concerts

The same Abacus poll found that 30 per cent of people reported having watched at least one streaming concert, and 70 per cent were satisfied with the experience.  However, 79 per cent said that, while it was an acceptable stand-in for the in-person live music experience, it was inferior to “the real thing.”

  1. Close to half of Canadians have discovered new music during the pandemic

Some good news here, and this again comes from Abacus. The poll found that 43 per cent of Canadians reported having discovered new artists during the pandemic.

  1. Laws or no laws, it will be a long time before live music is back to being what it used to be

More than 40 per cent of Canadians told Abacus it will be at least six months before they attend a concert again – 33 per cent if the show is in a small venue like a bar or pub – and that’s AFTER social distancing rules have been lifted to allow them.  Around a quarter said they will likely never attend a festival, large concert, or bar with live music again, and 21 per cent said they’d likely never attend a small concert again. Perhaps not surprisingly, a full half of Canadians said they will likely never attend a concert in the United States again. Only 10 to 15 per cent of Canadians said they were prepared to see a live show as soon as they’re allowed to.

Are bars and restaurants the future of live music?

While Canadians are uncomfortable with concerts, they are more comfortable visiting restaurants; a full 45 per cent said they’re ready to eat out as soon as they’re allowed to, and another 32 per cent said they would hold off for less than six months.  Only four per cent said they’d never visit another restaurant. So perhaps dinner-and-show deals at restaurants are in the cards when it’s time to reopen?

 

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