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Some people in Canada say they may never feel comfortable going to a concert again

We've known for a while now that live music events will be one of the last things to return once social distancing measures are lifted sometime in the distant future. But according to a new study, some Canadians say they may never feel comfortable attending a concert again. 

The new national public opinion survey, conducted by Abacus Data and commissioned by Music Canada, asked Canadians several questions related to how they're feeling about live music in the era of COVID-19.

The survey found that music is undoubtedly helping people cope with the stress and anxiety brought on by the pandemic, with 35 per cent of respondents saying they're listening to more music than before and 24 per cent saying they're watching more recorded live concerts.

But the poll also found that it'll be quite some time before many Canadians feel comfortable attending a live show again, even once social distancing measures are lifted.  

The results show that 41 per cent of respondents said they won't feel comfortable going to a concert in a small venue for at least six months, while 43 per cent said the same for large venues and the same percentage said they won't feel comfortable attending a music festival for six months or more.

Meanwhile, 26 per cent of those surveyed said they may never feel comfortable attending a concert in a large venue ever again. 

The results are similar for concerts in small venues, music festivals and bars, with 21 per cent, 25 per cent and 24 per cent saying they may never feel comfortable seeing this kind of live show again, respectively. 

"As governments across Canada and the world increasingly shift their focus to recovery, this data from Abacus underscores the precarious position of the live music ecosystem — an ecosystem upon which artists rely for a significant, and in some cases predominant, portion of their livelihood," said Graham Henderson, president and CEO of Music Canada, in a release

"The music industry faces a triple threat. First — the very real medical concerns of Canadians about the virus. Second — that government restrictions will remain on large gatherings well into recovery. And third — that even after government restrictions have lifted and economies begin to reopen, Canadian confidence in returning to these live events will continue to be low."

Perhaps most notably, 50 per cent of respondents said they may never feel comfortable going to a concert in the U.S. again.

"The survey captured the deep unease Canadians have about travelling to the United States. Many are ruling it out completely and for others, it may take months before they feel comfortable returning for live music events in the U.S."

"This will have important implications on tourism, travel and the live music industry in the United States," the study notes.

Survey respondents were later asked, "If concert venues and local bars reduced the number of people allowed into the venue to allow for more distancing, how likely are you to go to concert if a vaccine is not found for COVID-19?"

Overall, 31 per cent of respondents said they definitely wouldn't go, 28 per cent said they're much less likely or somewhat less likely to go, 26 per cent said they were more likely to go or might consider going, and four per cent said they would definitely go.

"In short, even if they are allowed to return, many Canadians, including those who love live music the most and miss being able to, won't feel comfortable attending until there is a vaccine or their risk of infection is substantially lower," notes the study. 

But while some music lovers have replaced the live experience with the digital one (30 per cent), 79 per cent of those respondents said it's a good stand-in for live music but could never really replace the real thing.

"Despite a genuine desire to return to live music events, to experience them in small and big venues, many Canadians are hesitant and reluctant to return," reads the survey's upshot.

"Since concerns about contracting the virus and a second spike in infections linger, even if restrictions on large gatherings are lifted, it would be wrong to assume that people will return to their normal behaviours."

"Just because people can do something, doesn’t mean they will. This suggests the impact of the pandemic on the live music sector will persist long after restrictions on large gatherings are lifted."

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