Gig audit: crowd sizes at the moment

Been speaking to lots of promoters over last few months and been getting a lot of concerning comments about the state of live music.

Some promoters said acts they have play every few years are playing half the size venues they once were (can’t tell if this is cost of living related, older audiences getting out less due to covid / being out of the habit since lockdown or likely a combo of all three)

Some shows seem to be much harder to promote / market than before, as almost all live music previews in local press and online have disappeared (do we need a new mag like The Fly?! Or something better than Songkick and Bands In Town?)

Also noticed a lot of promoters are now not really full time or don’t have staff, so things like load in info and stage times were coming after 2-3 follow ups a day or two before the show.

Anyway, curious what your experiences of gig going are over the last few months (or longer) and whether you’ve noticed any patterns to what’s busy and quieter or whether you’re personally going to a lot less gigs (I’m hardly going to anything as I’m in close contact with someone who’s clinically vulnerable and also moved out London last year as it got too expensive)

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Crowd sizes are down, certainly, and I think that your possible reasons are all likely. I’d also add:

People moving out of cities, initially due to covid, but now due to cost of living and increased remote working.
Gen Z not going to as many gigs in general, compared to Millennials at the same age.
Facebook has been pretty much useless for gig promoting for about a decade now. Twitter is going the same way (and even then, it was never great).
You’re right about gig listings - it used to be that you could submit your gig to the Press Association and it would end up in the print copies of the likes of Timeout, Guardian Guide and NME, all off the back on one e-mail. That doesn’t really exist anymore.
Music venues are moving further out from the city centres, which means that it can be harder to get to gigs from other parts of the cities. In London, for example, pretty much every gig I go to now is in Zone 3 or 4.
People are getting ill more, and are more conscious that they could pass on an illness to others if they attend a gig while having a cold or cough or something. This means that people who have bought tickets are not attending more often, and also that people are buying tickets closer and closer to the date, in case they’re not feeling it on the day.

Outside of a few big act/venue promoters, I think they’ve always been largely DIY, to be honest, so having to do everything in their spare time.

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Theyre fine at the gigs I go to

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Cost of living, innit

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Been harder than ever to get tickets for gigs here in the Netherlands. I used to rely on Ticketswap last minute pre-pandemic, but that’s not an option a lot of the time nowadays.

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Speaking for myself, I’ve massively cut down on gig-going - entirely for financial reasons. But I’ve also definitely noticed much smaller crowd sizes at those I’ve gone to, and plenty of gigs I’d previously expect to sell out immediately have had tickets for sale on the day.

I agree that promo opportunities are shit now. If I didn’t regularly check the Ticket Scotland site, I’d be oblivious to so many tours I’d be interested in. However, cost and changing attitudes to events/recreation following covid lockdowns are probably the bigger factor.

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Don’t think I’ve noticed a difference tbh

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Same here. Plenty of sold out gigs for popular acts, and plenty of half full weeknight gigs for your usual obscure indie acts

I think the larger venues are selling out faster than before really, as @ma0sm said im used to having to get resale tickets often for the 1500+ capacity gigs. Think that’s down to people getting more comfy to pre booking during covid times, tickets on the door just isn’t really a thing as much anymore

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Just locally, there are fewer international bands playing small / mid sized venues. It seems to me that that the less established UK bands who would ‘cut their teeth’ on supporting tours and build a following before coming back to headline the same venues on their own are having to skip that stage and either play to half empty venues which were too big for them in the first place or not bother at all.

For larger or more established bands ticket prices have increased by at least a third and in some cases doubled in the last couple of years - the average show at somewhere like the Wedgewood Rooms (400 capacity) would have been around £15 - £18 before 2020. You’re now looking at £25 - £30.

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Not noticed a difference on the gigs we put on. Audience is skewing older though (both at ours and generally)

I’ve been pretty much exclusively going to small scale punk and metal shows recently, and would say the attendance is largely unchanged from how it ever was.

Places like New Cross Inn, Blackheart or The Underworld know their audience and have carved out a pretty sustainable (at least to my eyes as a punter) model.

My appetite for mid/large scale shows is basically zero these days, costs are insane and experience generally lesser than a small venue metal show.

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Gigs are getting too expensive as well as everything else being too expensive - going out in general is too expensive now. I used to go out 2/3 nights a week now i dont really see many circumstances where ill go out more than once a week abd as a result id rather do activities where i can actually interact with my friends without being stared at with daggers

Nit tgat i dont want to go out more than once a week ill just starve to death if i do

Going to see Mitski this evening, can’t see it being too busy, she’s not that well known is she :smiley:

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^ this. The 6 Music Dads are definitely keeping the industry going here at the 100-cap end of the market.

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Outside of here this is still the main place i see gigs coming up and one of the few reasons i have an account. It’s definitely not ideal i just dont know where else to look and imagine loads of people dont have accounts anymore which will have contributed to not being aware of whats on. Feel so sad that last.fm didnt adapt into something more successful.

Also, i know everyone is different BUT a massove majority of people get paid after…what the 25th/28th of the month. Never understood why tickets dont go on sale then as standard.

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In my experience crowds are increasing if anything. There’s at least four gigs I can think of in the next six weeks that I’d planned to go to but delayed too long on tickets and they’ve sold out (and I’m not talking last minute buying here, one is a November gig that sold out in May, for example). That’s across a spread of venues from 200 cap up to 1600 (we don’t have anything bigger here), and includes one US band that I was able to buy a ticket for the week before last time they played the same venue. Hard to separate a trend from a bands individual trajectory of course, but last week I also saw Conjurer play to twice the amount of people that they did last time I saw them.

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I think to an extent we have become home bodies following Covid. I certainly lack the motivation to travel to things like I did pre pandemic. It’s not just gigs e.g. museums and galleries have seem a drop off in people visiting.

Reliability (or rather the drop in reliability) of public transport post-Brexit, post-Covid, post-not giving the staff inflation matching pay rises, probably hasn’t helped, either.

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Crowds have seemed pretty decent at most of the gigs I’ve been to this year. Sold out shows definitely feel like they’re sold out, whereas this time last year it could mean only 3/4 full or worse.

Facebook used to be a really good way to reach people as a promoter, because you could set up a group, and people could join it, and then you could set up an event and invite the whole group. And the bands could do the same.

But now, so few people see those invites due to the algorithm, and you have to pay to reach any significant number of people. Unless you’re posting on there regularly, and ‘engaging’ with other posts, or paying, it’s not really worth the effort.

Early facebook worked so well that all other alternatives died off, and now they’ve changed it so that it doesn’t really work either.

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