The live music business in Ireland creates a huge number of jobs and makes a massive contribution to the Irish economy, at local, regional and national levels. So says a major new report, entitled Let’s Celebrate.
A recent report on the value of the live entertainment industry to the Irish economy confirmed something that Hot Press has been saying for a long time – and that many of us in the local music industry already instinctively knew. Namely, that the live entertainment business is of massive importance to the nation, not only culturally but economically.
It’s the first time such a forensic analysis of the live sector has been undertaken and the results make for compelling reading. Entitled, Let’s Celebrate, this very well-presented, groundbreaking, glossy report, was written by Justin Green and carried out by BOP Consulting – a team of London-based economic consultants, who specialise in the creative and cultural sector. The report comprehensively examines live entertainment in Ireland across the full range of events ticketed by Ticketmaster, and analyses the impact of these events on the local and national economy.
The facts and figures which emerge are staggeringly impressive – and should serve as a wake-up call, particularly to those in Government and in policy-making generally, who have historically been loathe to acknowledge the major contribution made by music and other live events to the overall economy.
SCALE OF THE INDUSTRY
Let’s Celebrate looks at a 12-month period between March 2015 and February 2016 – a snapshot in time covering the major live events of that year. It reveals, for example, that over four million people attended Ticketmaster events on the island of Ireland, generating €1.7bn of “net additional revenue” and €669m of net additional gross value in the process. In plain English, in addition to what was lavished on tickets, these figures took into account money spent as part of attendees’ trips (food, drink, merchandise, accommodation, transport and so on).
The report also found that an estimated 3.7m bed-nights were generated, emphasising the crucial importance of music and entertainment to the hospitality and tourism sectors here. 433,666 attendees at events south of the border came from outside the Republic of Ireland. All of this activity created over 11,000 additional jobs within the island-wide economy; and for every single €1 spent on a ticket, an additional €6.06m of revenue was generated within the wider economy.
It is fascinating too that participants were asked to consider what they would have done, if the live event they attended had not occurred. In the vast majority of cases, they stated that they would have stayed at home – or found another live entertainment event to go to. It was confirmation both that Irish people really do love live music and entertainment; and that live events inspire spending that would otherwise not occur at all.
The fact that these figures were based solely on Ticketmaster events, which account for less than 50% of the live market, gives a clear indication that the scale of the industry, and its overall impact, are considerably greater than set out in the report – possibly by as much as an additional 100%.
The Let’s Celebrate report points out, for example, that the annual Galway Arts Festival (which this year features among others the legendary Brian Wilson performing Pet Sounds) attracts attendances of 200,000 – which is a hugely impressive number by any measure.
The bottom line is that attending live music events – whether concerts, festivals, theatrical performances, comedy gigs, pub-sessions, or even listening to buskers on the street – is something we Irish love to do. It’s in the blood coursing through our veins and we do it as often as we can, wherever we can, both indoors and in the great wide open.
This penchant for celebratory live music events hasn’t gone unnoticed in the wider music world either and all major acts now include Ireland on their touring schedule – and that’s despite the fact that we’re an island nation, with the added logistical difficulties of getting here, when compared with say, mainland Europe or the USA. Obviously visitors to these shores add to the gaiety of the nation considerably by getting into the live swing of things – but the trigger for all of this is that Irish people attend music events at a higher rate per capita than just about any other country in the world.
To give just one example – last year on his The River tour, Bruce Springsteen performed four shows in the entire UK. He did two shows here, where the population is less than a tenth of the size. And those two shows were not in his usual Dublin haunt of the RDS, where the capacity is about 30,000. They were in the much larger scale Croke Park, where he played before an estimated 160,000 fans over two nights! That is an extraordinary number of people, in a country with a total population of 4.6 million.