Here's How Comfortable Canadians Feel About Live Music After COVID-19

A new survey shows nearly half of the country will take caution before rushing back to festivals and large venues

Photo: Rick Clifford

BY Calum SlingerlandPublished May 14, 2020

A new study commissioned by Music Canada shows nearly half of Canadians will wait six months or more before they feel comfortable watching live music at festivals or large venues.

The public poll, conducted by Abacus Data this April, found that 43 percent of respondents said it would take six months or more following the relaxation of social distancing regulations before they would feel comfortable going to a music festival or a concert in a large venue.

A third of respondents said they likely wouldn't feel comfortable going to a smaller live music venue, such as a pub or bar, for that same period of time. Another quarter of respondents, meanwhile, said they may never feel comfortable going to those types of events again.

The survey also asked respondents how likely it would be that they attend a concert if the venue reduced their maximum capacity to allow for more distancing. Overall, 31 percent said they would not go, while another 28 percent said they are much less likely or somewhat less likely to go. Only four percent answered that they would certainly go, while 26 precent said they were more likely or might consider going.

When it comes to going the distance to watch your favourites, 50 percent of Canadians said they may never feel comfortable again going to a concert in the United States, while 32 percent said it would take six months before feeling comfortable again.

As live music fans turn to the digital space to catch all manner of livestream performances, the survey made sure to inquire about that rapidly expanding arena as well. 

Three in 10 respondents said they have watched a live music show on Facebook or another social media platform, with 70 percent reporting they have been satisfied with the overall experience. However, 84 percent agree that digital content cannot replicate the live music experience.

Chronicling the music consumption habits of Canadians, the survey notes that 35 percent of respondents say they are listening to more music than before the pandemic started, while 31 percent say they are watching more music videos than before.

Similarly, 31 percent said they are watching more video content from musicians online than before, while 24 percent answered that they are watching more recorded live concerts than before.

You can find Abacus Data's complete survey here.

"As governments across Canada and the world increasingly shift their focus to recovery, this data from Abacus underscores the precarious position of the live music ecosystem — an ecosystem upon which artists rely for a significant, and in some cases predominant, portion of their livelihood," Music Canada president and CEO Graham Henderson explained in a release.

"The music industry faces a triple threat. First — the very real medical concerns of Canadians about the virus. Second — that government restrictions will remain on large gatherings well into recovery. And third — that even after government restrictions have lifted and economies begin to reopen — Canadian confidence in returning to these live events will continue to be low."

Earlier this month, Live Nation announced that they don't expect live music events to resume at "full scale" until the fall of 2021. The promoter will instead plan to pursue social-distancing initiatives including drive-in concerts and reduced-capacity festivals, which you probably won't be allowed to mosh or crowdsurf at. Canada also just announced its first drive-in music festival.

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