Hastings Music Audience Survey 2023: Results
With over 500 respondents, this is probably the most detailed and accurate survey ever carried out of the gig-going habits and preferences of Hastings’ many live-music lovers.
Based on statistical assessments the results from a survey of this size ought to be accurate indicators of most people’s views to within around +/- 3%.
The survey was completed by people who were reached via email lists and social media posts.
Predominantly this was via Facebook, so this may have weighted some of the answers towards people who use this as their preferred platform.
Hastings loves to go to a gig
We are a town who loves live music, with 26% of those polled going to see a gig at least every week, and almost one in ten going out to see bands several tmes weekly.
Another 25% go to gigs fortnightly, and 20% at least once a month.
Only 13% said rarely or never.
More bands should encourage tips
Despite cost of living pressures, almost half of us would happily put between £3 and £5 into a tips jar for a band, with over 20% saying they would contribute £5 to £10.
Even new bands can sell tickets at reasonable prices
The average people are happy to pay to see a less-well-known act is just over £10, but there are 35% pf fans who would be prepared to fork out £20 or more.
And 25% or people would pay over £10 even to see local bands perform, with 12% saying they would stretch to £20.
Beer and bands go hand in hand
It’s no secret that drinks sales are crucial to supporting the grass roots music scene. And Hastings audiences are relatively thirsty, spending on average £15-£20 each on a night out to see a band – with 25% running up bar bills of more that £20.
And with limited budgets it’s not just high bar prices that put off gig-goers, because the selection of beers is also important, especially in today’s market of interesting IPAs and craft breweries.
Gig promotion and a ride home are the two big obstacles to going to a gig – but by far from the only hurdles
Promoters clearly need to do more promoting in Hastings, because almost 40% or people never hear about what is on until it has already happened.
And the next biggest problem in terms of going out it getting home. A lack of late-night public transport plus expensive and sometimes rare taxis reults in a third of people saying that this is a big factor in decising to stay in rather than head out to see a band. And those who answered in this way are 50% more likely to only go out to a gig every few months or less.
Also coming in as a highly common problem is that popular bands don’t play locally – so more needs to be done to try and get promoters to book that bands that audiences are after.
And 20% of people don’t feel that local venues provide good enough sound or light to make the experience of seeing a live band worth going out.
Busy gigs or quiet gigs – a catch-22
A surprising finding perhaps was that three times as many people say that gigs being too busy is a turn-off as opposed to venues being too quiet. The numbers aren’t very high for either answer, but a significant 18% prefer to avoid the crowds.
What is your favourite Hastings venue? There are lots to choose from
Ironically, but not surprisingly, the most popular live music destinaation isn’t actually in Hastings, but in neighbouring Bexhill. The De la Warr Pavilion was listed by almost 50% or people as the most regularly visited local venue for music-specific reasons. At the other end of the scale, but coming in at number two with 43% is The Jenny Lind, with their weekly programme of free shows.
Neck and neck for third place (all on 28%) are The Piper, The Albion, and The White Rock Theatre.
We gave 25 options to select from, but loads more came in as alternatives.
Traveling to see bands is still a thing
Interestingly there are a lot of people wh make the effort to go out of their way to see a band they are fans of – with over 60% making a journey of over 25 miles more than once a year – and 30% doing this either monthly or every few months.
Favourite genres are the old faves
Given a wide range of genres to chose from, Hastings fans still prefer their rock (64%), folk (48%), blues (42%), and soul (42%), with indie guitar coming in close at 41%, and reggae not for behind on 36%.
And as for that old question of originals or covers, 75% would rather see an original band perform.
Is Facebook king when it comes to event listings?
Maybe it was a slant towards people responsing to the survey via Facebook over other channels, but by far the two most common answers for how people find out about what is on in Hastings were Facebook pages (bands and venues – 77%), and Facebook posts from friends (60%).
Good old ‘word of mouth’ comes next at 55%, with posters and flyers listed by around 40% of people each.
Instagram comes in next with posts from venues or bands and posts from friends ranked highly by 30% and 22% respectively.
Promoter e-mails are important to just under 20%, with the local paper cited by just under 15%.
In terms of web searches, Love Hastings and Hastings Flyer combined (as they use the same calendar) are pleasingly the most popular (28% combined), with Google only favoured by 12%.
How do people want to find out about gigs?
The top three answers here were quite clear. A social media page with comprehensive listings was first, with just over 50% giving this answer, with a searcheable website close behind on 45%, and a weekly email in third place on 33%.
And with regards how people decide to see a band they haven’t heard from before the biggest factor by far (70%) is a recommendation from a friend, with 45-50% of people liking to have an easy-to-follow link to a playlist or a video so they can make their minds up themselves.
This is helped by having a clear description in the promotion about what sort of music is on offer on event posters or social media promotions.
Big ticket agencies or buying direct
An interesting finding that needs to perhaps be explored further is the question of whether people are happy buying through ticket agencies. From the answers given only 15% said this is their preference, with the bulk saying that buying directly through a venue website (40%) or paying on the door (32%) would be more likely to encourage them to part with their money.
A new ‘gig club’ for Hastings?
Although only 20% of people said a definite ‘yes’ to wanting to joining a subscription-based gig club, that still represented almost 100 people – and a further 47% were interested in the idea (totalling another 227 potential members).
This could be an exciting development, and has the potential to see lots more interesting new music coming to town in the future.