If you listen to or play live music, you are likely to be happier and healthier.
At least, that is one of the research findings 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 wellbeing 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 5-10 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 free on the Concerts SA website at www.concertssa.co.za