Consumers Assess Risks Of Gigs As The Thrill Of Live Music Returns

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Erin Benjamin, President and CEO of the Canadian Live Music Association, says live music is “rooted” in the way Canadians live life.

James Park / The Globe and Mail

After a long pandemic-induced hiatus, Canada’s live music industry is finally starting to come to life and viewers could not be more excited. But even as live music fans rush to buy tickets, the excitement is tempered by a careful assessment of COVID-19 risks, signaling that the industry’s path to recovery is far from certain. .

The live music industry has been among the hardest hit sectors during the COVID-19 pandemic. When the world closed in early 2020, so did the plethora of concert halls in Canada, from the largest stadium to the smallest stage.

Research conducted by the Canadian Live Music Association (CLMA) in June found that more than 100,000 people involved in the industry lost their jobs in 2020 and incomes fell 92% year over year. the other. This is a steep drop for an industry that contributed about $ 3 billion a year to Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP) and created 70,415 jobs in the quarter just before the pandemic, before falling to 38,620 jobs.

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But with the cautious reopening underway across Canada comes a tentative hope that the industry may be on the road to recovery. For lovers of live music, that can’t come soon enough.

“Consuming live music is in our DNA as Canadians,” says Erin Benjamin, President and CEO of CLMA. “It’s completely ingrained in the way we experience life. “

A survey conducted by Abacus Data in 2020 found that over 80% of Canadians are eager to attend a live music concert to some extent.

That’s certainly true for Vancouver resident David Gherghinoiu, 24, who recently bought tickets to a Tyler the Creator concert slated for April 2022. Although he admits it was a tough decision that required weighing risks of COVID-19, live music was a big part of his life before the pandemic and he is keen to return to that stage.

“When people ask me: what do you like to do? “Mr. Gherghinoiu said,” Seeing live music is one of the things at the top of my list. “So when he thinks about what it would be like to come back to that space, ‘It would be emotional and just a euphoric feeling for me.’

Mr. Gherghinoiu is not alone in his excitement. Throughout the pandemic, Lucas Gergyek, 24, says one thing he has missed most is the feeling of “connection and vibrancy you get from a gig”.

“It will be really special for me to find this environment where there is all this energy and all this positivity,” he says.

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Mr Gergyek hopes to attend a Kaytranada concert in Toronto in December with a group of friends and says he is closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation, especially as winter approaches.

“I really think my friends are on the same frame of mind as I am – glad to be back in this atmosphere of live music and connection,” he says. “We’re just going to… be open about our comfort levels and how it feels to be in this space with people again.”

Cautious optimism seems to be a running theme for spectators, as none of those interviewed ruled out canceling their plans if the pandemic worsens as their concert date approaches.

For 25-year-old Tristan Woo, forking out for concert tickets despite the uncertainty was a risk she “was willing to take.”

Earlier this year, Ms. Woo was one of many Canadian women who tried online concerts. She shared a ticket with a friend to attend BTS’s 2021 Muster Sowoozoo, which broke the own world record for attending live concerts with 1.33 million paid viewers. While Ms. Woo said it was far from a live experience, she still enjoyed the chance to hang out with a friend.

Either way, Ms Woo is eager to return to live concerts and recently bought tickets to a Glass Animals show in April 2022. Part of her math was that, because it’s farther down the line. the future, there might be a chance that the pandemic will have eased by then.

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“It was pretty optimistic, and I could definitely see how it might not work in the future. But I was like, why not?

This willingness of Canadians to take a risk on concert tickets is what gives Ms. Benjamin some hope that live music is making a comeback in parts of the country. However, she is quick to add that recovery is still a long way off.

“Not everyone is back. There is live music activity, and it’s great, ”she says. “But it’s not a full open house situation here.”

Research by the Canadian Independent Venue Coalition has found that more than 90 percent of independent concert halls across the country are at risk of shutting down if government support is not prolonged. For Ms. Benjamin, this represents not only a huge loss for the industry, but also for the very dynamism of the communities.

“I want people to think about… what their community is like without concert halls,” she says. “Because if we’re not careful we’ll end up with communities across the country like this. She particularly emphasizes the need to support small and medium-sized businesses, which are the ones that really power the industry.

The danger of further loss to live music is not lost on the most passionate of Canadian viewers. When it comes to the future of the industry, Mr Gherghinoiu echoes Ms Benjamin’s hopes that people will no longer take live music for granted and especially start to value small venues and artists.

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“I just hope that overall… people, governments and interest groups realize that this is a part of society that needs a little more attention and a little more care, ”Gherghinoiu said.


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