Demand for Live Music is High; What It Means for You

August 6, 2023, 3:47 PM · A recent New York Times article reported a boom in attendance for big concert acts and a high current demand for live music. I've noticed high turnout and engagement at my own shows, and seen many musician friends and colleagues out on the road, working harder than ever.

What could this mean for you?

If I were trying to convince venues to book a show right now, or trying to get people to buy tickets, I would overtly reference the trend: "Have you heard? Demand for live music is up. Want to book a show/buy a ticket?"

As someone who has had a free-lance performing career for the greater part of the past 25 years, I’m cautiously optimistic. For years,

Now, at this particular moment, people suddenly appreciate the value of live music. Flights, cruises, and other experiences are in demand as well. What changed?

"Human Connection"

Everyone's been saying:

Musicians are in the unique position of making human connections happen, by taking out their instruments and playing live. As much as we musicians have looked to prove that people don’t appreciate music (Josh Bell’s famous subway experiment comes to mind), appreciative audiences have remained steady in places of pain: protests, war zones, memorials, hospice, churches, prisons. In these places there tends to be an urgent desire to find humanity through feeling intimacy, trust, freedom, or some kind of catharsis.

Christian Howes
Violinist Christian Howes.

Music can humanize an environment by injecting or catalyzing feelings into a void of loneliness and fear. Right now, people appreciate that. Or, maybe people are just desperate to have fun. Either way, it looks like a positive trend.

For those who find it safer to be skeptical about the societal value of music, I get it. But based on the evidence, if there was ever a time to perform live and feel hopeful as a musician, now is as good as any.

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Christian Howes helps violinists gain skills in improvisation, contemporary styles, and more through his newsletter, play-along videos, and more at

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August 7, 2023 at 12:36 AM · A very inspiring and uplifting essay! Thanks for writing, Christian!

August 7, 2023 at 01:32 AM · During the pandemic, I got into the habit of taking my violin to a local park, standing next to a picnic table, and playing for 20 minutes. That was it. If people were around they'd listen. If not, I'd simply play to the tall Oregon trees. Since the pandemic, I've continued to play in the park, occasional open mic shows, and in Bluegrass jams. I don't have a specific goal, beyond just playing music. It's fun and challenging, and keeps me grounded.(Plus, as a bonus, I ain't all that bad.)

August 10, 2023 at 04:29 PM · I was less affected than most. My main band only does private parties, mostly outside,--no permission needed. And I practiced a little more in the mornings. I was hoping that one lesson learned from the antisocial shutdown and semi-house arrest would be that real live human contact is better than electronic substitutes. Live performances are coming back, but not nearly as strong as I hoped. Maybe it is economics, the inflation hurts everyone.

August 13, 2023 at 07:22 PM · Amateur here. Regarding the Josh Bell subway experiment: From what I’ve read on this subject, people actually do appreciate music - or, at least, show some curiosity - more than we musicians give them credit for. A number of small kids wanted to stop and listen to JB; but, since it was rush hour and their parents had to get to work, the parents couldn’t allow their young ones to linger. I strongly believe that, if it had been an off-peak hour, more adults would have been happy to stop and listen.

Continuing a bit from MK’s input, above: Although I don’t play in the park or play to the trees, I do play late afternoon/early evening sessions in the garage. It’s warm enough here - north-central AL, USA - to do this about 8 months each year. I play in the garage partly for the reverb - but also because it’s my way of sharing the music with neighbors and passers-by. I don’t know who my audiences will be from one day to the next; but I know I have them, because they tell me that they pause on their neighborhood walks, or hang out on their front porches, to listen.

One neighbor’s kid, about 6 y/o at the time, parked his bike in the driveway, walked up to the garage door, and knocked. You guessed it. He wanted to try out my instrument.

For me, at present, attendance at live performances is off the table - mainly due to my schedule. My days start at 4:28 AM, and most performances are in the evening. By 8:30 PM, I’m already starting to fade. Then, too, I have a longstanding aversion to being on the road after dark - plus the drive time and parking.

Still, I do know where you’re coming from. Nothing can quite top the sound of well-trained players in person on good instruments - or the chemistry between live performers and audiences. I’m confident that there will still be a demand for this.

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