Map by U.S. Geological Survey. Public domain.
Last summer I did an analysis of how far people travel to get to a festival, thinking that most people were willing to go far from home to get to them. In fact, people did not travel very far. As it turned out, the largest chunk of people was only willing to travel up to 150 miles from home to attend a festival.
That was festivals; what about regular concerts? Well, at the time I generally knew that people traveled only short distances to get to them. What hadn't been done was an actual analysis. Now one has been done and the results are pretty stark.
Not only are people also willing to travel only up to 150 miles to get to a regular concert, it is the upper limit pretty overwhelmingly. While the numbers for festivals varied a lot (between 33% and 90% depending on the festival), with regular concerts the norm is almost always 60% of attendees only traveling 150 miles or less.
The top four concerts artists in a 30 day period were chosen for this analysis; they were ranked by their TicketNetwork.com sales from March 19 to April 18. The selections were One Direction, Aerosmith, KISS/Mötley Crüe, and Drake.
The distances were calculated using Google Maps from the location of the venue to the city of the ticket buyer. In a minority of instances, the city has to be substituted for the venue, as the exact location was unavailable. All distances were aggregated into four categories: 0-150 miles, 151-301 miles, 301-451 miles, and 451+ miles. The first category was also further divided into: 0-50 miles, 51-100 miles, and 101-150 miles.
People live really close to the venue where a concert is taking place
Attendees for all four acts live 150 miles away, or closer, to the venue they're planning to visit—this is true for 74% of people who bought One Direction tickets, 63% of people who bought Aerosmith tickets, 78% of people who bought KISS/Mötley Crüe tickets, and a whopping 87% of people who bought Drake tickets. Compare that to the number of people who live 151 to 300 miles away: 12%, 22%, 15%, and 9% respectively. After that, the numbers are in the single digits for 301 to 451 miles and farther than 451 miles.
Stepping deeper into the 0 to 150 mile range, a maximum of 50 miles from the venue was the norm, though there some exceptions (see below for more). Of the total numbers of attendees, 52% of people going to One Direction concerts live 50 miles away, compared to 33% for Aerosmith, 36% for KISS/Mötley Crüe, and 67% for Drake.
More people live farther away for Aerosmith and KISS/Mötley Crüe
I already mentioned the numbers above, but I wanted to again point out the 22% of people attending Aerosmith concerts, and 15% of people attending KISS/Mötley Crüe concerts live between 151 and 300 miles from the venue. The converse is the case for the One Direction and Drake tours—people attending those concerts tend not to live as far away from the venue. These stats will become more important during the conclusions, so keep them in mind.
Other interesting tidbits
- Texas most often tops the list of states of residence when people are traveling 150 miles or more to get to a concert. No surprise there; it's a big state, with venues relatively few and far between.
- People from Texas are more willing to travel farther if there's no other venue nearby, and Texas venues within the state benefit from that. In other states, people are more likely to cross the border if a venue in the neighboring state is closer.
- The average distance of people to the venue was nearly the same for One Direction and Aerosmith concerts, at 189 and 190 miles respectively. It was 138 miles for KISS/Mötley Crüe. Drake is the lowest at 77 miles. The combined average distance is 148 miles.
In general, the closer the venue, the better
The biggest finding from the analysis is that the majority of people don't want to travel too far when going to a concert. This makes a lot of sense, as a concert is something for which you can enjoy for a night and then head back home for work or other weekend activities. Traveling much farther than 50 miles, on the other hand, means planning for an entire weekend, including hotels, food, and other amenities. It's quite a project in itself.
There are exceptions to this, however. Among the artists chosen for this analysis, Aerosmith has a higher percentage of people overall who are willing to travel farther to see them, and those going to see KISS and Mötley Crüe are also more likely to make a longer trek, albeit not as far as Aerosmith fans.
There are a couple likely reasons for this:
- Different audiences: Aerosmith, KISS, and Mötley Crüe are more popular among an older population. They've been around since the '70s, so adults can take the time to go enjoy them for a weekend, or are able to spend more time on the road with no worries about kids. Drake and One Direction, on the other hand, cater to a younger audience. The kids need transportation to the concert, so parents don't want to go as far because they have to bring their child home at the end of the night.
- More money: This is tightly linked to age; an older audience is more likely to have higher earnings (though not always). More money to spend means people are more willing to travel farther to see an act, and perhaps make an entire trip out of it.
There are caveats to both of the above points. First, despite being an older act, a much higher percentage of attendees to the KISS and Mötley Crüe concerts, 78% versus 63%, live closer to the venues than do Aerosmith attendees. Second, even though they attract younger fans who have less money, 9% of One Direction attendees are traveling more than 450 miles to see the band.
The KISS/Mötley difference is pretty easy to explain. KISS in particular is known as a band that attracts kids, so they may have a younger audience than one would expect, and perhaps families are attending together. One Direction's targeted audience/distance discrepancy is a little harder to explain. Maybe they have an older audience than expected? This could very well be the case. After all, there are quite a few people who are seeing them while in Las Vegas.
More research is needed
In this analysis, the sample was four acts from three genres, which isn't a lot. Not enough to claim that this data applies for fans of every act, anyway.
For example, people who like electronic music might be willing to travel farther, or maybe not all rock bands can convince people to take a longer trip just to see them. Perhaps there are differences by gender of either the ticket buyer or the artist—here only male artists were selected (unintentionally), and the analysis didn't look at the ticket buyer's gender at all.
There are a lot of questions that were not answered here, so it's worth going back and including more genres and artists in the sample, and breaking the data down by other demographics. We'll re-do this study once the year is over.