Concerts and concert houses in modern society

Student thesis: Master Thesis and HD Thesis

  • Marianne Simone Herløv Hansen
4. term, Music, Master (Master Programme)
The music industry has gone through a substantial transformation since the new millennium began. This is primarily due to the development of digital music distribution and in particular the rising popularity of streaming services, which are either free or at the very least inexpensive for the consumers to use. These factors have forced the industry to rethink its business models, as live music now has become the main source of income for the vast majority of musicians. It might, however, seem strange that industry expects that consumers will continue to purchase (expensive) concert tickets, when they are accustomed to listening to music without paying for it. There have furthermore been built new and expensive concert houses in Denmark throughout the last fifteen years, which have been and still are largely financed by government funds. This raises the questions: why do consumers choose to go to concerts, and what part do concert houses play in the life of the individuals as well as for society in general?
This master’s thesis attempts to answer these questions. The thesis is based on a broad theoretical background and a case study of a concert house in the form of Musikkens Hus, which opened in Aalborg in 2014 as well a supplementary qualitative survey created to get an insight in the opinions of actual consumers (both regarding the case of Musikkens Hus and concerts in general) in order to confirm or invalidate the presented theories.
The theory used to answer the questions are not only based in musicology but also in sociology, psychology and neurology as well as performance- and media theory. This includes the works of Niklas Luhmann, Klaus Bruhn-Jensen, Pierre Bourdieu, Nicholas Cook, Simon Frith, Christopher Small, Philip Auslander, Mark Mattern, Erika Fischer-Lichte and Gustave Le Bon among others.
Musikkens Hus is the home of Aalborg’s symphonic orchestra and is such a house built primarily for classical music. It does, however, also host a variety of rhythmical concerts and it is furthermore not only a concert house but a general cultural institution, as its facilities also include a department of research and education. This department is the home of Aalborg University’s music students as well as the local conservatory.

The modern day concert houses in Denmark are more or less required to be anything but “merely a concert house”. They must be medias providing the citizens of the society with entertainment as well as art, and they must represent the musical preferences of as many social classes as possible, in order to create cultural value and prestige to the local society and the individuals living in it. Ideally they bear a considerable cultural value to their society by their ability to attract tourists and visitors in general from other parts of the country. At the same time, they are also keepers of culture and thus they display a variety of culture representing various places and times in history to those who might be interested in experiencing it.

Based on the theory as well as the statements retrieved from both self-made and gathered surveys, this study found, that although music bears a substantial significance in the general concert experience, the social factors involved are also hugely influential in defining the experience. Concerts are centred around communities and shared experiences, and the individuals can hope to meet likeminded people here – or at least people with interests and values that are similar to their own. The members of the audience are active participants in the concert, and there is a constant ongoing exchange of energy between all involved parties throughout the course of the concert. Here, the audience members experience going from being independent individuals to part of a crowd with all the freedom and feeling of community that comes with it.
All though the various types of mass media have forced the music industry to rethink its business models, the concert ticket sales might actually benefit from the rising popularity of the mass media system, as the concerts seem like more authentic, personal, unique and culturally valuable experiences in contrast.

SpecialisationPopular Music and Sound Production
Publication date3 Jun 2019
Number of pages64
ID: 305018509