While more than half of the country’s population remains locked-in or stuck close to home, during the coldest weeks of the year, most of us are dreaming of good times at a great show.

That’s one of the findings of a new study by Ernst & Young (EY), based on surveys with more than 35,000 consumers and published today.

Concerts are at the front of our minds in these strange times, the study finds. And the vast majority of us want the big reopening to look and feel as they used to: with international acts and massive crowds.

More than 80% of respondents indicated that they consider international acts to be a “significant” or “very significant” factor in their decision to go to a show, and a similar number of folks are keen to see live events return without the crowd-caps that have crushed the live sector over the past 16 months.

Some of the findings mirror those of LIVE’s recent U.K. report, which found that concerts give a boost to fans’ mental health.

RNB Fridays Live crowd Live Performance Australia

According to EY’s report, some three-quarters of Australians say that live events are an important part of their work, social, and family life. The opposite is also true. The dearth of shows is having a detrimental effect on our headspace.

“Live music literally helps so much with my depression. I am struggling without it,” says one punter, quoted in the document.

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Another explains, “live events are a major part of people’s mental health. People need to be able to have something to look forward to and somewhere to go to forget about the stresses of normal day to day life.”

Just 5% of respondents said they would “not be impacted if live entertainment” failed to return this year.

The live music sector has welcomed the report, and called government at all levels to act on its findings.

EY’s report show that “Aussie fans are hungry for the world’s biggest performers to return to our shores and tour our beautiful country,” comments Geoff Jones, CEO of TEG and Co-Chair of LEIF.

International treks “generate the greatest economic benefit for our country through tourism, travel, hospitality, and other industries,” he continues, “and to our own industry which has been ravaged by the pandemic.”

Geoff Jones
Geoff Jones

TEG is behind Guns N’ Roses’ Not In This Lifetime stadium tour, which is booked to visit Australia in November and would set a new standard for large-scale international tours in the post-pandemic era.

The future of live music in Australia hinges on an inoculated population, something that hasn’t yet happened.

After several frustrating false starts, multiple lockdowns, and a botched vaccine rollout, the live industry and music fans are still waiting for a breakthrough. Or some good news.

“Other international markets are beginning to reopen and offer alternative touring options for artists,” notes Roger Field, President Asia Pacific of Live Nation and Co-Chair of LEIF, “so it is absolutely critical that we reach rapid alignment with the Federal and State and Territory Governments at National Cabinet level to ensure Australia does not miss out on this vital opportunity for the live entertainment industry to recover from the worst year in its long and storied history.”

Roger Field
Roger Field

Across the country, the live music ecosystem has been crushed by the health crisis. Industry lobby bodies LEIF and the ALMBC emerged in 2020 to help band-together the live industry and find a route out of the mess created by the pandemic. 

A sobering ALMBC member survey published last September found that 70% of live music businesses wouldn’t last more than six months, and 30% couldn’t hold on for three months.

Almost three quarters of ALMBC members reported a downturn of 75-100% revenue downturn in the previous months.