Diana Ramiro

 Music tourism: united by music and... something else?

Another article by the author: Collaborative Digital Ecosystems

Diana Ramiro

Music tourism: united by music and... something else?

Music and tourism have always gone hand in hand, but after the pandemic, travel motivated by concerts, festivals and destinations of musical interest has boomed and continues to rise. According to a YouGov study for Amadeus, Spaniards lead the ranking of the four major European markets that have travelled - staying at least one night - to attend a concert, followed by the British, Germans and the French. In addition, the Spanish and French are the most willing to spend. The second half of 2024 is expected to be very busy in Europe due to the summer festivals and the start of major tours by international artists such as Taylor Swift, Coldplay, Bruce Springsteen or Karol G. 

The case of Taylor Swift 

These events generate a high direct economic impact and also indirectly boost the economy in other sectors. A clear example is Taylor Swift and her The Eras Tour. The U.S. Travel Association stated that the artist's tour would have generated around 10 billion dollars during its passage through the country, taking into account the indirect spending of the attendees in the different cities where the concerts were held. Even the US Federal Reserve cited Taylor Swift's role in reviving the US economy. 

In the case of Chicago, tourism authorities highlighted the record hotel occupancy rate set by the singer's tour, with more than 44,000 hotel rooms occupied each night. The artist gave three concerts, generating hotel revenues of 39 million dollars. The California Center for Jobs and the Economy estimated that The Eras Tour would add $320 million to Los Angeles County's GDP, with an increase in employment of 3,300 people and local revenues of $160 million. The Canadian Prime Minister himself asked the singer via X to come to Canada for her tour, as she had not announced any dates in the North American country. And his request had a happy ending since Swift will play nine concerts in Canada this autumn. 

The effect of The Eras Tour has reached such a high impact that even Real Madrid asked LaLiga to host a second date of the artist at the Santiago Bernabéu on 29 May. Real Madrid needed LaLiga's approval as the weekend of 25-26 May is the last day of LaLiga and Taylor Swift's team needs 3 days of set-up time before the concert. In the end, Swift's big impact got LaLiga's matchday moved to 25 May in order to host a second date. Tickets sold out instantly and now resale has reached up to 6000 euros per ticket. The five-star VP Plaza España Design hotel in Madrid is selling The Eras Tour as a luxury experience by launching a €30,000 package for two people under the name Swiftie Exclusive Pack that includes two nights' accommodation in the presidential room, VIP access to the concert and the Bernabéu box, transfer throughout the stay, a pre-concert brunch, stylist and personal shopper to prepare for the event and other post-concert experiences. 

Nothing stops the fans

Taylor Swift is a unique case, but other major tours by big-name artists also achieve remarkable numbers and generate huge traction. According to Amadeus, the week Coldplay announced their Barcelona concerts, searches for Barcelona increased by 154% compared to the previous week. In addition, bookings increased by 42%. Nor can we forget the festivals; from the most local to the most important ones such as Glastonbury, Coachella or Tomorrowland. The craze unleashed by these events has given rise to the term funflation, which refers to the inflation generated by the high consumption of entertainment-related experiences. Some people even go into debt to pay for tickets to these concerts. 

We are experiencing a paradigm shift in which people are seeking to live for the moment and invest their savings in the enjoyment of this type of entertainment, especially among the younger generations.

The tourism sector has experienced great benefits thanks to the growth of concert and festival-related travel. The most notable impacts can be seen in accommodation, airlines, trains, travel agencies - which now offer specialised packages - restaurants and even insurance companies. Due to the rising prices of these events, it has become essential to include cancellation insurance to protect attendees against future unforeseen events. In addition, these travellers often extend their stays to enjoy the destination where the concert is being held. 

Why do we travel for music?

Exorbitant prices, debt, hours of frustration in virtual queues to buy tickets, travelling thousands of kilometres, planning up to a year in advance, dream outfits, sleepless nights at the gates of venues to get the best seat on the pit... All for music. Or is there something else? What drives us to this frenzy for concerts and festivals? Is it pure fun? Fanaticism? FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)? Or a mixture of all three?   

Perhaps it depends on the type of event. Festivals are often places for meeting, socialising and letting off steam. Also, in some cases, of status - like Starlite. Music sometimes takes a back seat and what is really important is the plan: having a good time, in good company and listening to good music. Forgetting the problems of everyday life and enjoying the here and now in a unique setting. 

At a particular artist's concerts, however, we increasingly observe how the fans' fascination is growing around the narrative. Music is still at the core, although in many cases not in terms of quality but in terms of what it conveys. A good voice, good lyrics and good musical technique do not guarantee success. What is more important is the show and the storytelling that is generated around the artwork and the artists. Interaction with the audience has also become a major attraction. 

Those attending these big events are no longer passive subjects, but feel part of the show thanks to different dynamics, such as LED wristbands. Renew or die. Taylor Swift, Coldplay and Beyoncé have evolved their shows and have gone through a wide variety of musical styles, transforming themselves year after year to reach and/or remain at the top. Others, such as the Rolling Stones or Bruce Springsteen, don't need to do so much. 

Perhaps because their audiences, for the most part, are of different generations and are looking for something different in music. What all these artists do share is their ability to generate community. That feeling of belonging that pulls you in, that makes you feel part of a movement that transcends borders and languages, that doesn't understand cultural differences or age; even if it's just for one night. 

What if that is the real fear? Not experiencing that sensation. Missing out on the anticipation, the nerves and the excitement of the previous months studying the lyrics and imagining what that moment will be like. Knowing that you are missing something unrepeatable for you, something that fulfills you and leaves a mark on you forever. The live performance of that special song. Of those chords that have been with you all your life and you never thought you would hear live. But not in order to upload your videos and photos to social networks or to be there because it's the concert in fashion. But for yourself. For your passion for the artist, the music and the feeling of being alive. Sound is one of the sensory experiences that most influences the way we interact and understand the world. 

Music activates and stimulates different regions of our brain and allows us to connect with our most primitive feelings. What if musical tourism is nothing more than a way of projecting what we hold deep inside? Those hopes, disappointments, joys and failures that we dare not express in words, but only in songs. Far from home. In a place where, surely, almost nobody knows us. 

Author:Diana Ramiro Dussillat 

Tourism, Leisure, Lifestyle & Business Development Consultant 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/diana-ramiro

The authors are responsible for the choice and presentation of the facts contained in this document and for the opinions expressed therein, which are not necessarily those of Tourism and Society Think Tank and do not commit the Organization, and should not be attributed to TSTT or its members.

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