Concert Attendance in Chile


Centuries ago, music was rendered through performances in concert halls, opera houses and churches, and by troubadours traveling from village to village.  By and large, music listening was an activity that was restricted to the elite class of society, who have the access as well as the knowledge to established music.  Today, a revolution has occurred.  The primary distribution mechanism of music to consumers is through various recording media --- vinyl records, cassette tapes, CDs, DATs, Mini-discs, DVDs, MP3 files, etc.  Given the relatively low costs of these recordings and their respective playback equipments, music listening is now an activity that is available to and, indeed, availed by the majority of the population.  

We will provide a quotation from the Walter Benjamin's renowned article on the subject of The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

In principle a work of art has always been reproducible.  Manmade artifacts could always be imitated by men.  Replicas were made by pupils in practice of their craft, by masters for diffusing their works, and, finally, by third parties in the pursuit of gain.  Mechanical reproduction of a work of art, however, represents something new ...

Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be.  

One might subsume the eliminated element in the term "aura" and go on to say: that withers in the age of mechanical reproduction is the aura of the work of art.  This is a symptomatic process whose significance points beyond the realm of art.  One might generalize by saying: the technique of reproduction detaches the reproduced object from the domain of tradition.  By making many reproductions it substitutes a plurality of copies for a unique existence.  And in permitting the reproduction to meet the beholder or listener in his particular situation, it reactivates the object reproduced.  These two processes lead to a tremendous shattering of tradition which is the obverse of the contemporary crisis and renewal of mankind.  Both processes are intimately connected with the contemporary mass movements.

While it is true that music industry today revolves around the recording, live performances have not completely vanished.  Concert tours can still be profitable, and they also serve as promotional events for the musicians to gain publicity, win fans and therefore sell more recordings.  Whereas Walter Benjamin ponders whether a recording has successfully captured the 'aura' of the performance, a paradoxical inversion has occurred in that the question is now whether a particular concert was able to reproduce the studio recording that is very familiar to the concert audience.  Indeed, live performances can fall far short of the recordings which make use of sophisticated technology and editing skills that can enhance the work as well as eliminate mistakes.

Today, live performances have not necessarily been reduced to being appendages to studio recordings.  Indeed, live performances can be electric as when the musicians can attain unimaginable moments of inspiration, or when the audience gets into the spirit of the music.  The most-oft quoted example is The Grateful Band, a group which has never attained great commercial success in their recordings, either in record sales, radio airplay or reviews but whose concert tours are legendary for the group of fans known as Dead Heads who follow them from city to city along the tour.

We will now cite some survey data from the TGI Chile study.  This is a survey of 2,000 persons between the ages of 12 to 64 years old interviewed in the Gran Santiago area during 2001.  According to this survey, 12.9% of the people said that they had attended one or more concerts during the last 3 months.  The nature of the concerts is not specified, so they can cover anything from a rock concert to a chamber music performance.  Of course, the world-renowned Festival de Viņa del Mar is also included.

In the next graph, we show the incidence of concert attendance by the two traditional demographic characteristics: socio-economic level and age/sex.  As far as socio-economic level goes, concert attendance is an increasing function of economic affluence.  Although anyone can attend a concert, admission is not free and may be quite expensive, in addition to associated expenses (e.g. transportation, food, beverages, memorabilia, etc).

The distribution by age/sex is interesting because it highlights gender differences.  Among males, the highest incidences are among teenagers.  Among females, the incidence is much highest among 20-24 year olds, with the social inhibition against the female teenagers from going out as often as their male counterparts.

In the next chart, we show concert attendance rates by marital status, occupation and educational level.  These results are consistent with the age/sex and socio-economic variables.  When considered as a group, the concert goers contain some highly desirable demographic characteristics --- young, educated and affluent.  Concert goers are obviously highly appreciative of the subject and content of the events.  For this reason, many concert events are sponsored by major advertisers.

(posted by Roland Soong, 4/12/2002)

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