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Gen Z's Concert Scene Shift: Less Alcohol, More Edibles - Impact on Venue Revenue

Recent trends show Gen Z's shift towards marijuana edibles over alcohol at concerts, challenging traditional revenue streams for venues.

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Salman Akhtar
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Gen Z's Concert Scene Shift: Less Alcohol, More Edibles - Impact on Venue Revenue

Gen Z's Concert Scene Shift: Less Alcohol, More Edibles - Impact on Venue Revenue

Recent observations from the live music industry reveal a significant shift in the consumption habits of Gen Z concertgoers, with a noticeable decline in alcohol consumption and an increased preference for marijuana edibles. This trend, highlighted by a Minneapolis live music CEO and supported by data from Billboard, is raising concerns about the sustainability of traditional revenue streams for concert venues. The COVID-19 pandemic has been identified as a turning point, exacerbating the differences in substance use between generations and challenging the financial models of smaller music venues.

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Changing Tastes and Trends

According to industry professionals, there is a clear 25 percent gap in alcohol consumption at concerts when comparing Gen Z with older generations such as millennials, Gen X, and boomers. This shift is partly attributed to the rising popularity of marijuana edibles and a growing focus on mental health and sobriety among younger audiences. The financial implications for concert venues, which heavily rely on beverage sales, are significant. With the bulk of ticket sales revenue going to performers, the decrease in alcohol sales poses a potential threat to the viability of live music spaces.

The Role of Pricing and Preferences

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High beverage prices at concert venues are also a factor in this trend. Social media posts, like one from a concertgoer at Madison Square Garden who was charged $40 for a tequila sunrise, highlight the financial deterrent of drinking at concerts. This has led to a preference among some attendees to consume marijuana, which they perceive as a more cost-effective alternative to alcohol. This shift in consumer behavior reflects broader changes in substance use preferences among young adults, as indicated by a study from Texas State University, which found a decline in alcohol use and an increase in marijuana use among college students.

Implications and Future Directions

The evolving substance use trends among Gen Z have implications beyond the live music industry, suggesting a need for a recalibration of educational and prevention strategies related to substance misuse. As reported by the American Psychological Association, while overall substance use among adolescents has decreased, there has been a notable increase in the use of marijuana and hallucinogens. This underscores the importance of adapting substance misuse prevention efforts to align with the changing preferences and behaviors of younger generations. For the live music industry, finding innovative ways to adapt to these trends and diversify revenue streams will be crucial for sustainability in a post-pandemic world.

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