It is safe to say that COVID-19 has forever changed the music event industry. Its lingering effects have changed consumer behaviour and the traditional buying cycle dramatically in the post-COVID world of festivals and gigs. It’s a new environment that event hosts are having to navigate.
Fortunately, the Bolster X Tixel report on ticketed events gives event hosts the lowdown on everything they need to know to move tickets in this new environment. Here are the key takeaways from this seminal report.
The music event industry is experiencing a shift in trends post-pandemic. Credit: Aditya Chinchure
4 major music event industry trends event hosts need to be aware of
1. COVID’s impacts are still lingering
Everyone still feels the ripple effects of COVID-19. However, the music event industry was, and still is, one of the most impacted industries. Cancellations and illnesses continue to contribute to a certain degree of uncertainty when it comes to ticketed events. Event-goers are therefore still waiting until the last minute to buy tickets, just in case the event is cancelled.
In addition to this new ticket buying behaviour, new events are now competing with rescheduled events, and personal commitments such as weddings and birthdays that had been put off during lockdowns. This means that the typical event-goer is thinking twice before going to a music event taking place right before a personal event. They are weighing the risk of contracting COVID-19 at a show against the risk of not attending a personal, once-in-a-lifetime event. Undoubtedly, all these factors do little to alleviate the worries of event hosts and artists who depend on ticket sale counts.
2. Greater expectations when it comes to event flexibility
71% of event-goers have changed their ticket purchasing habits. 24% are buying the same amount of tickets as before the pandemic, but closer to the event. Therefore, they now expect a certain degree of flexibility that was not present before the pandemic.
Most event-goers consider themselves to be "early birds" for events that are likely to sell out. However, more people are holding out later in the hope of getting cheaper deals on ticket reselling websites. The reason is that about 21% of event attendees refuse to pay the final release price for an event they want to attend. This suggests that it may be time for the music event industry to redefine the pricing tiers and structures of the past.
3. The lineup is more important than ever
A lineup video alone is enough to convince 65% of event-goers to buy tickets. Therefore, curating a strong lineup and announcing it at the right time is crucial for event hosts in the post-pandemic music event climate. This is because around 92% of event-goers need to love an artist before buying a ticket. Thus, there is increasing pressure on event organisers to snatch the artists likely to increase their ticket sales before a competitor books them.
The event type also influences the ticket purchase timeline. Single-day and band-room event attendees tend to buy tickets one to two weeks before an event. On the other hand, fans of international artists with stadium concerts tend to buy a ticket up to twelve months in advance.
Lineups can make or break an event. Photo credit: This Song Is Sick
4. Resale now plays a clear role in the music event ticket cycle
Resale platforms have increased in popularity due to the event-goers' need for flexibility. 31% of buyers on Tixel head to the resale platform to score a ticket for a sold-out concert.
In addition, reselling platforms like Tixel are experiencing a surge in ticket trading in the lead-up to the concert. This trend clearly shows that people are now viewing tickets as options rather than commitments. Moreover, it is now commonplace to see fans buy tickets once via resale and then resell those same tickets again on the marketplace.
Infographic Credit: Bolster X Tixel Ticketed Event Report
How event hosts can offer ticket buyers more comfort and security
With this information in mind, event organisers need to be aware that music fans and event-goers hold more power than ever. Therefore, they must offer ticket buyers more comfort and security, and offer multiple ticket buying options in the lead-up to and on the day of the event.
This includes understanding where the majority of the audience falls into the buyer persona spectrum and catering to them. For example, if an artist's audience tends to buy tickets at the last minute, event hosts could focus on selling tickets on the door. Offering contactless payment options is recommended, as contactless payments have soared by 52% compared to pre-pandemic times.
Resale looks to be a permanent fixture in the ticket cycle. Partnering with ticket reselling platforms is essential to ensure that potential attendees are not discouraged from buying tickets in the first place.
Finally, flexible refund policies are now a must. Event hosts need to offer flexible ticket options to cater to an ever-changing music event industry landscape. Although not all event organisers may be financially able to offer refunds, being upfront about non-refundable tickets fosters trust between the organiser and the event-goer.
Alternatives to refunds include ticket rollovers and credits to other events. Organisers can sweeten the deal by offering exclusive merchandise, food or drink tokens, and VIP upgrades.
Opting for a comprehensive insurance policy is crucial in the unfortunate circumstance that an event must be cancelled. It is now more important than ever for organisers to double-check any insurance policy in order to ensure that it covers all bases.
Undoubtedly, the pandemic has been a catalyst for a paradigm shift in the music event industry. During this transitional period, event hosts need to work smarter and take considered risks. By paying close attention to what the audience wants and needs, music event industry professionals are in a unique position to influence the course of this much-loved industry for the better.
Daniel Groves is a coach and author, constantly developing his knowledge and sharing his experience with like-minded entrepreneurs, business owners, and event growth strategists: https://danielmgroves.co.uk/. Connect with Daniel on LinkedIn: danielgroves90