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5 Key Takeaways from 2023: Insights from US Music Venues

Live music had a big year in 2023! We asked a number of venue owners and operators what they learned and took away from 2023. These 5 themes rose to the top.
Written by
Joel Hubartt
Published on
March 14, 2024

Live music had a big year in 2023! We asked a number of venue owners and operators what they learned and took away from 2023. These 5 themes rose to the top:

1. 2023 Exceeded Expectations

Initially expected to be a quieter year following the vibrant return of live music in 2022 after the COVID-19 pandemic, 2023 surprised everyone by surpassing expectations. The year witnessed more tours and larger fan turnouts. Many surveyed were pleasantly surprised by 2023’s strong performance, with some expressing concerns about the potential for a decline in 2024.

2. Festivals Are Hot

Music festivals continued to gain popularity in 2023. However, this surge in festival attendance presented challenges for some independent clubs. Radius clauses, which restrict artists from performing in nearby venues before or after a festival appearance, and the presence of festival lineups in the vicinity affected smaller clubs, making it harder for them to compete for bookings and ticket sales.

3. Decreasing Alcohol Sales

One notable trend observed in 2023 was a decline in alcohol consumption at many venues. Multiple venue owners/operators pointed to this shift in consumer behavior. This change required venues to adapt and explore new ways to maintain revenue streams beyond alcohol sales. It is also prompting venues to look more closely at deal structures when booking talent. It’s worth noting that one venue group that serves the southeast US markets shared that their drink sales have not declined. So some of these declines could be regional.

Hot tip: Register for our January 2024 Make More Money webinar, where we'll discuss unique events and fad trends (Taylor Swift party, anyone?) that offer an opportunity to boost your booze sales.

4. Unique Experiences Draw Crowds

Audiences in 2023 were more open than ever to unique and unconventional experiences. This willingness to embrace novelty provided venues with opportunities to experiment and stand out. Barbie parties, Taylor Swift dance nights, Shrek raves, Fake Weddings, etc. Many venues experimented successfully with filling their open dates with unique and themed events.

5. Premium Experience Priority

Another trend in 2023 was the increased willingness of music fans to invest in VIP and premium experiences. This shift provided venues with opportunities to enhance customer satisfaction and boost revenue. Premium offerings became a significant focus for venues looking to cater to the evolving preferences of their patrons. It’s clear that some fans are willing and able to spend more on a show to have the experience they want to have. Venues are learning how to lean into this trend.

Hot tip: Take a look at our case study where The Vogue Theatre saw 10x revenue growth of premium upgrades by enabling add-ons and upgrades to take place from anywhere.

Want to learn more about venue trends and predictions for 2024?

Sign up for our Make More Money series, where we bring venue owners and operators together to share tips, advice, and more. Register here.

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