How the Live Music Industry Can Thrive Amid Rising Living Costs

Jay Clair
4 min readJun 18, 2024


Every year, the economic tide brings new challenges and opportunities to our shores. This year, the tide is particularly rough, with rising living costs and inflation causing waves that the live music industry must navigate. Having experienced the past year as the Head of Marketing at Bluesfest, I’ve had the privilege — and the challenge — of helping our beloved festival through these turbulent waters.

Recently, I delved into the CommBank Cost of Living Report for May 2024, and what I found was both illuminating and a bit daunting. But here’s the thing: in every challenge lies an opportunity, and in every wave, there’s a rhythm we can dance to. Let’s explore how we, as an industry, can turn these economic challenges into a crescendo of growth and connection.

Understanding the Beat of Consumer Spending

The report is a stark reminder that consumers are feeling the pinch. Their wallets are thinner, and their spending is more cautious. Total per capita spending has only increased by 2.5%, falling short of the 3.6% inflation rate. It’s clear: people are spending more just to keep up with rising costs, leaving less room for the joys of life — like music.

But here’s the opportunity: We can adapt, innovate, and inspire. We can make live music more than just an expense — let’s make it a necessity, a source of joy, a beacon in these stormy economic seas. Remember, music is something that connects people and binds us together as communities. It’s one of the things that reminds us of our humanity, and that’s worth elevating past the idea of being an "expense.”

The Younger Audience: Finding the Right Chord

Young adults, particularly those aged 25–29, are tightening their belts the most. They’ve cut back on essentials like utilities and groceries, leaving even less room for discretionary spending. These are the same people who often fill our festival grounds and music venues, bringing energy and enthusiasm to every event.

Our response? Let’s meet them where they are. Let’s offer affordable ticketing options, group discounts, and even flexible payment plans. Let’s leverage digital marketing to speak their language, reaching them through the channels they trust and use daily. By understanding their financial constraints, we can still offer them a front-row seat to the music they love.

Tapping Into the Rhythm of Older Generations

Meanwhile, older adults — those over 60 — are keeping the beat with increased spending, particularly on travel and experiences. They’re less affected by the current economic pressures and have more disposable income for leisure.

The opportunity here is clear: Create premium, VIP experiences that cater to this demographic. Offer them something special — exclusive access, premium seating, or intimate meet-and-greets with artists. They have the resources and the willingness to invest in extraordinary experiences, and we can be the ones to provide them.

The Geographic Harmony

There’s a notable difference in spending resilience between regional and metro areas. Regional audiences are holding steady, providing a more stable base for live events. Metro areas, with higher living costs, are seeing a slower recovery.

Our move? Let’s take the show on the road. Look to expand into regional markets, where the appetite for live music remains robust and, quite frankly, is typically starved of quality music and events. These areas offer untapped potential and a hunger for cultural experiences that we can fulfil. It’s about reaching out beyond the usual hotspots and connecting with communities that might be underserved.

Creating a Symphony of Value

Consumers are still looking for ways to enjoy themselves, even in tight times. They’re cutting back, but they’re not cutting out. They’re looking for value, for experiences that justify the spend. This is where we can shine.

Here’s our playbook:

  1. Flexible Pricing: Offer a range of ticket options — from basic access to all-inclusive packages. Early-bird discounts, group rates, and tiered pricing can make events accessible to everyone.
  2. Bundled Experiences: Create packages that offer more than just a ticket. Include meals, merchandise, or even accommodations to enhance the value.
  3. Destination Marketing: Position live music events as must-visit destinations. Partner with travel and hospitality sectors to offer comprehensive packages that turn an event into an experience.

Dancing to the Tune of Consumer Behaviour

As consumer behaviour evolves, so must we. People are still spending on travel and entertainment, albeit cautiously. They’re looking for experiences that resonate with them, that offer a break from the mundane and the stressful.

Our role? To be that break. To be the rhythm that moves them, the melody that lifts their spirits. By positioning our events as essential experiences — something they can’t afford to miss — we can stay relevant and compelling, no matter the economic climate.

Playing Our Part in the Industry

The economic landscape is challenging, but it’s not insurmountable. By understanding the changes in consumer spending and adapting our strategies, we can not only survive but thrive. It’s about more than just keeping the doors open — it’s about enriching lives, creating memories, and keeping the music alive.

At Bluesfest, we’re committed to turning these challenges into opportunities, and we’re excited to see how the wider live music industry can do the same. Together, we can create a harmonious future where live music continues to be a source of joy and connection for all.

By embracing the rhythm of change and playing to our strengths, we can ensure that live music remains a vital part of our lives, no matter what the economic forecast.

Let’s keep the music playing.



Jay Clair

Head of Marketing at Bluesfest. SEO Nerd & Writer. About Me: Contrarian, rational optimist, curiosity is king.