If gig-going can help you live longer, then Darren Hogan may well live forever. The Toronto-based 48-year-old attends 25-30 live-music events a year, from major stadium concerts to intimate venues and multi-day festivals.
Now a study is backing what Hogan experiences firsthand—attending concerts is good for you.
And not just for your soul: Going to a live music gig once every two weeks could boost life expectancy by nine years due to its power to positively impact wellbeing, according to research commissioned by the world’s busiest live music arena, Britain’s O2. Yes, we see the possible conflict of interest here, but the venue partnered with Patrick Fagan, a leading expert in behavioral science and associate lecturer at Goldsmith’s University in London.
He specializes in applying psychological science to business insight. He has spearheaded a number of high-profile research projects that use innovative methods, including facial coding and implicit testing to help brands gain consumer insights.
When it comes to researching live music, he concludes: “There is an alternative cure for those struggling to find their Mr. Brightside, and it can be found at your local music venue – with just 20 minutes of gig-time resulting in a significant 21 per cent increase in feelings of well being.”
The findings come off the back of bespoke psychometric and heart-rate tests at a range of well being activities – including gig-going, yoga and dog walking. The gig experience increased participants’ feelings of wellbeing by 21 per cent, compared to 10 per cent for yoga and 7 per cent for dog walking.
In relation to concert attendance, key markers across the happiness spectrum showed increases, including feelings of self-worth (+25 per cent) and closeness to others (+25 per cent) whilst mental stimulation climbed by an impressive 75 per cent.
Accompanying research showed a positive correlation between regularity of gig attendance and wellbeing. Those who attend live concerts at least once every two weeks were the most likely to score their happiness, contentment, productivity and self-esteem at the highest level (10/10), suggesting that regularly experiencing live music contributes to improvement and wellbeing.
The key, according to the research, is in the communal experience—67 per cent of those surveyed say experiencing live music makes them feel happier than simply listening to music at home.
Another study out of Australia comes to a similar conclusion, “that engaging with music by dancing or attending musical events was associated with higher SWB (subjective well being) than for those who did not engage with music in these forms. The findings also emphasized the important role of engaging with music in the company of others with regard to SWB, highlighting an interpersonal feature of music.”
As Fagan, concludes: “Our research showcases the profound impact gigs have on feelings of health, happiness and well being – with fortnightly or regular attendance being the key. Combining all of our findings… We arrive at a prescription of a gig a fortnight which could pave the way for almost a decade more years of life.”
That’s good news for a population that’s redefining what it means to get older and that includes discretionary spending on concerts and music festivals.
A study conducted by Harris Poll found that 44 per cent of people aged 51 to 70 are attending more live shows in 2015 than they did a decade before With more disposable income and the kids all grown up, they have the time and money to pursue their passions.
For others, like Hogan, concert-going is a lifestyle that never waned through their 20s, 30s, 40s and shows not signs of stopping: That it’s good for overall well being is an added bonus.
“I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.”