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60% of Concertgoers Plan to Spend Extra to Help Musicians Recover From the Pandemic

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After more than a year of quarantines, masks and vigorous hand sanitizer use, many are eagerly planning for a return to normal life. For music lovers, that means getting back to their concert- and festival-going ways. But with some feeling apprehensive about the change, combined with a heightened awareness of the financial impact the pandemic has caused, what will that look like exactly?

To find out, LendingTree surveyed more than 2,000 Americans about their concert plans for 2021, including how much they plan on spending, what they’re willing to splurge on and how those plans compare to their pre-pandemic habits.

According to the findings, 25% of Americans plan on going to a concert or music festival in the summer, with 12% planning on going to one in the fall — and 60% of those attendees said they’ll spend more to help support artists and their crews.

Key findings

  • Americans are ready for summer concerts, especially those age 40 and under. 1 in 4 Americans will attend a summer concert or music festival, and that jumps to 36% and 32% among millennials and Gen Z, respectively.
  • Music lovers want to help artists hurt by the pandemic. 60% of those attending an upcoming concert said they’ll spend extra money in order to help musicians and their crews financially recover from a year without touring.
  • Concertgoers are ready to spend to make their experiences extra-special. Of those planning to attend a festival or concert, 47% are spending more to get better seats than they normally did in the past. In addition, 27% will buy merchandise, 20% will spring for VIP passes and 9% are paying for meet-and-greets with the artist.
  • Millennials and Gen Zers are willing to take on debt to see their favorite musical acts, and many said it’s worth it. About half of those 40 and under with concert plans said they might incur debt as a result. And among all millennials and Gen Zers, around a third agreed, to some degree, that concert debt is definitely worth it.
  • Credit card rewards help some concertgoers pay for their events. 42% of those with a concert on their calendar will use credit card rewards or points/miles to pay for some of those costs.

1 in 4 Americans will attend a summer concert

While 25% of Americans plan to attend a concert this year this summer (and 12% in the fall), close to 4 in 10 said they won’t attend any concerts in that time:

Americans ages 40 and under are especially ready to resume concertgoing: 36% and 32% of millennials and Gen Zers, respectively, will attend a summer concert or music festival. Plus, about half of Americans said that at least one concert they’ll attend this year is a rescheduled event resulting from the pandemic.

Among those who plan to go to concerts or festivals in 2021, most expect to attend an average of three concerts in 2021, down slightly from four concerts pre-pandemic. The only demographic that plans to go to more events in 2021 than they did previously are Gen Zers, who attended an average of three concerts or festivals pre-pandemic, but want to go to an average of eight this year.

Due to the continued relevance of pandemic-related safety restrictions — even as we approach a post-vaccination world — survey participants were also asked about the types of concerts they were planning on attending. Of those with concert plans, 42% said the events will be outside only and 21% are attending some indoor events and some outdoor ones. By contrast, only 15% of respondents said they’re only going to indoor concerts this year.

Out-of-state travel is common among concertgoers

While around a third of concertgoers plan on staying in-state, 40% plan on going out-of-state for at least one music event and more than 1 in 10 will hop on a plane to get there. In particular, going out-of-state for concerts and festivals is more common with younger generations, specifically Gen Zers and millennials. Distance doesn’t seem to be a significant issue for those generations either, as close to 1 in 5 Gen Z and millennial concertgoers are flying to their event.

Music fans willing to spend big to support favorite artists

A whopping 60% of concertgoers said they’ll also spend extra money on things like merchandise or upgrades in order to support musicians and their crews:

The only demographic that doesn’t fall into this trend of spending extra to support artists and their crews is baby boomers: Two-thirds said they don’t plan on making such purchases.

To gauge how people were planning on spending more in relation to concerts and festivals, it seems most are willing to spend extra to enhance their experience, with 47% planning on spending more to get better seats than they normally did in the past. Meanwhile, 55% of respondents said they planned on spending money on food during concerts and festivals. Other common expenses included merchandise (27%) and VIP passes (20%), while meet-and-greets with the artist (9%) were less common.

Once again, Gen Zers distinguish themselves from the pack: Unlike other generations, their most common anticipated concertgoing expense was actually a new outfit (45%).

When it comes to total expenses, most said they plan on spending under $500 on concerts and festivals:

Although most will be keeping concert-spending relatively under control this year, a significant portion of millennials and Gen Zers (22%) with concert plans will shell out more than $1,000. And among event attendees of all ages, 35% will spend at least $500.

But spending on live music may not hit pre-pandemic levels just yet, as 34% of consumers planning to attend a concert or festival this year also said they’re spending less than they did before the pandemic.

Consumers cash in on credit card rewards to fund concerts while others turn to debt

About 62% of Americans said they think they won’t go into debt as a result of attending concerts or festivals in 2021:

Overall, millennials and Gen Zers seem to be more willing to spend more than they can afford to see their favorite musical acts. About half of those 40 and under with concert plans said they might add debt as a result. Plus, among all millennials and Gen Zers, around a third agreed at least somewhat that concert debt is definitely worth it.

Credit card rewards are another popular option to fund concertgoing activities, as 42% of those with a concert on their calendar said they’ll be using those rewards or points/miles to pay for some of those costs. Interestingly, however, those over 40 were least likely to take advantage of such perks for these kinds of events.

How to avoid overspending on concerts and festivals

Whether you anticipate taking on debt to fund your concertgoing or not, there are ways to make your spending habits work for you. Here are four options to consider:

  • Add a savings goal to your budget: “If you’re concerned that your love of live music may drive you into debt, give these concerts and festivals a place in your budget,” says Matt Schulz, chief credit analyst for LendingTree. “Budgets aren’t just about planning for essential expenses, they’re about carving out some room for fun stuff, too.”
  • Share costs whenever possible: If you’re planning on going to a concert or festival with friends, splitting basic costs, like gas and hotels, is a great idea. You might also consider staying with a friend who lives near the venue. “Little things like this can be fun, but they can also save you money,” says Schulz.
  • Ask your credit card issuer for a lower interest rate: A recent LendingTree survey showed that more than 80% of those who asked for a lower credit card APR got one, and the average decrease was 6 percentage points. “That success rate is so high that it is clear that it isn’t just folks with an 800 credit score who are getting their way. Do yourself a favor and make the call,” says Schulz.
  • Consider a balance transfer card: If you’re going to take on debt, interest-free is the best-case scenario. “A 0% balance-transfer credit card can be an absolute godsend for those struggling with debt,” says Schulz. “The ability to not accrue interest for more than a year can save you a bundle and dramatically reduce your payoff time.”

Methodology

LendingTree commissioned Qualtrics to field an online survey of 2,050 U.S. consumers, conducted May 7 to May 14, 2021. The survey was administered using a non-probability-based sample, and quotas were used to ensure the sample base represented the overall population. All responses were reviewed by researchers for quality control.

We defined generations as the following ages in 2021:

  • Generation Z: 18 to 24
  • Millennial: 25 to 40
  • Generation X: 41 to 55
  • Baby boomer: 56 to 75

While the survey also included consumers from the silent generation (defined as those 76 and older), the sample size was too small to include findings related to that group in the generational breakdowns.