Live music is good for you and good for cities, research says


If you listen to or play live music, you are likely to be happier and healthier! That’s one of the research findings showcased in the latest report on South African live music audiences published this week by SA-Norwegian live music development project, Concerts SA.

The report, It Starts with a Heartbeat, builds on previous work from the project to set out practical options for supporting the growth of live music audiences – and evidence of why such support is a good thing.

For individuals, many international studies have shown how participating in live music contributes to health and well-being including physical fitness, improved immune response and more robust mental health.

But those are just some of the benefits. A thriving live music environment helps to unite communities and generate social awareness.

For the economy, live music is a major generator of revenue in its own right while helping cities and provinces brand themselves and attract foreign direct investment. Businesses that locate themselves close to a vibrant live music scene can attract top employees, enhance productivity and innovation, and indirectly help to retain and grow their market share.

The next five to 10 years, the report explains, will be a crucial time for interventions to support live music in southern Africa. Live music has already overtaken recorded product as a source of revenue, and this has opened multiple opportunities for local venues and music organisers. Many of these music entrepreneurs are SMMEs – precisely the sector local economists and policy-makers have singled out as one of the most fertile sources of future prosperity.

The report unveils new research conducted in collaboration with the Wits School of Arts in 2015. This provides up-to-date, detailed knowledge about what attracts audiences to live music, and what deters them.

The research suggests local authorities have a key role to play in making live music more attractive and accessible. Policy options range from basics, such as improving public transport, to more innovative strategies such as giving the night-time economy (within which live music mostly occurs) a special status in planning processes.

Cities elsewhere that have done this have seen both a growth in revenue from music activities and an improvement in safety and security, something South African cities sorely need.

“Take some time to read this report,” Andre le Roux, managing director of the SAMRO Foundation urges businesses and policy-makers. “Use it as a menu, and choose which options you can use to build the consumption of live music, for the good of society and your city.”

It Starts with a Heartbeat can be accessed and downloaded for free on the Concerts SA website at

At 5pm on Sunday, October 30, the report will be launched at The Orbit, 81 De Korte Street, Braamfontein. Entry R80. Bookings: 011 339 6645  or email


3 thoughts on “Live music is good for you and good for cities, research says

  1. I’m from Edinburgh and I wish live music was more accessible there. There’s a small scene but it needs to be expanded more. I live in Berlin now and the opportunities are almost endless here. Great writeup. Do you write for any other sites as well as this one?


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