BRing on the Music
Nationally the concert scene is poised to make a big post-COVID comeback this year, but historical data indicates the Capital Region may be left playing second fiddle to some of its peer metros
As pandemic restrictions ended in most parts of the country, economists noted that “pent-up demand” – the desire to spend money on goods or services after a prolonged period of lockdown – was driving consumer spending through the roof in sectors related to experiences. After more than a year of streaming and delivery dinner, large swaths of the population wanted to go out to eat, see a movie, take in a game, or globetrot.
Based on survey data from earlier this year, the live music industry is no exception to this experiential spending boom. According to the survey, 62% of consumers either had firm plans to attend a concert this year or wanted to attend one. In terms of younger demographic groups, 33% of Millennials (26-41 years old) and 32% of Gen Zers (18-25) already had firm plans for a concert in the summer. These groups are also most likely to splurge for the event, with 41% of Millennials saying they’d buy a new outfit for a concert, and 18% of Gen Zers plan on buying VIP passes, the highest of all cohorts.
So, concerts are back, and young adult groups are most likely to attend and spend money. Considering BRAC’s heavy focus on talent attraction and retention in its five-year strategic plan this is important intel, and begs an important question: where does the Capital Region stand when it comes to concerts?
In 2018, SeatGeek – a mobile ticket sales platform – used its internal data to determine which U.S. cities get the most and fewest concerts. The top of the list is not surprising – Las Vegas and Nashville, the Entertainment Capital of the World and Music City respectively. Some of Baton Rouge’s peer cities made the top 25, which is notable: Tulsa (#8, 10.6 concerts per 100k residents), New Orleans (#16, 9.0), Louisville (#18, 8.8), and Birmingham (#22, 8.1).
These peers are roughly the same size as Baton Rouge, and we compete with them for both talent and economic development projects. But in the competition for concerts, we’re clearly behind.
As the chart above notes, from 2013 to 2018 the Capital Region was averaging 1.6 top-100 artist concerts from per year per 100,000 residents, the 11th lowest in the country. While it’s unfortunate to be ranked this low in terms of capturing major music events and the economic activity that accompanies them, the lack of concerts is also troublesome from a talent perspective.
The survey data cited at the outset makes it clear that younger age cohorts care about concerts more than any other group, so a metro area that performs poorly with this sort of amenity is at a natural disadvantage in terms of retaining young talent. The metro area has over 325,000 residents in that young cohort, including more than 55,000 currently enrolled in higher education that will soon be deciding where to begin their career. While it’s easy to dismiss a lack of a robust concert scene as a trivial curiosity, it’s the type of quality of place amenity that more and more young professionals are factoring into their decision on where to plant their roots.
It's important to note that SeatGeek’s methodology is not a holistic look at an area’s music scene – since it only looks at events for top-100 artists, it doesn’t capture smaller or mid-sized venues, listening rooms, open mic nights, and other concerts. As we continue to focus on quality of place and how best to compete for talent, a good next step would be to benchmark our overall music scene against our regional and economic peers.
 All data from a LendingTree/Qualtrics May 6-10, 2022 survey of 2,072 U.S. consumers
 Which U.S. Cities Get the Most Concerts, March 6, 2018. Data based on concerts from top 100 artists on SeatGeek from 2013 to 2018, so many smaller shows are not counted in the data.