All about the music

Study by two IFT scholars shows music festival attendees are primarily motivated by the music, rather than a need to socialise with others

Research Corner | A partnership between Macau Business and the Institute for Tourism Studies (IFT)

It is all about that jazz, that bass or those strings: interest in music seems to be the core motivator for festivalgoers attending music-based events. This is in contrast to attendees of other kinds of festival, where socialisation plays a major role in their decision to take part. So concludes a study by two researchers from the Institute for Tourism Studies (IFT).

“Festival-specific motivations, especially those relating to artists and musical performers, are seen to be important motivators for those attending music festivals,” wrote IFT scholars Thea Vinnicombe and Joey Sou Pek U. “The motivation to socialise, be it with family and friends, or to meet new people, is clearly less important [regarding] this festival genre.”

Their paper, “Socialization or genre appreciation: the motives of music festival participants”, was published last year in the International Journal of Event and Festival Management. It was based on a case study on the motivations of people attending the Macao International Music Festival, and a review of past academic articles on music festivals.

“These findings must be regarded as tentative as the sample of studies available and consequently the number of music festivals included is quite small,” Dr. Vinnicombe and Ms Sou cautioned.

They however noted: “The results suggest that by examining a subset of the same-category studies, namely, [of] music festivals, it is possible to identify motivations that are similar [common] across this festival type, and different to a more generalised set of festival studies.”

In their paper, the IFT researchers made reference to two previous academic articles that had compared studies on festival attendance motivation, in order to extract and define common motivators for eventgoers across a broad range of festivals and events. “Both studies found socialisation to be the most important motivator for festivalgoers across a large proportion of studies, with known group socialisation or socialisation with family and friends to be in second place,” the authors noted.

Better marketing

Their case study on the Macao International Music Festival focused on the event’s 2014 edition. The festival is the city’s largest and longest-running music festival, held each year over a one-month period in mid-autumn. A total of 406 show attendants – including 106 tourists – were interviewed, covering 10 of the festival’s 25 productions, and four of the six venues used for the festival.

“In common with the existing sample of music festival studies, attendees appeared to be motivated primarily by factors related to the music, such as the opportunity to see international artists and high-quality performances,” the IFT researchers wrote in reference to Macau’s music festival. “At the same time, both residents and visitors rated socialisation as the least important motivation for attending the festival,” they added.

Dr. Vinnicombe and Ms Sou stated such information could be utilised by festival organisers in planning for their events and in marketing efforts.

“With respect to music festivals, in particular, the Macao International Music Festival, the focus should remain on quality performers and a range of performances, especially those not typically available,” the scholars suggested. “As socialisation is a relatively unimportant motivator, organisers need not waste resources on either planning for or marketing this aspect,” they said.

On a broader perspective, the IFT researchers said their results suggested that classifying and examining festival attendance motivations by event category – such as food and wine festivals, sports festivals and local cultural festivals – could prove useful. “Instead of continuing to search for a common set of motivations across a broad range of festivals, motivations common to sub-categories are likely to be much more readily found,” they wrote.

The researchers

Thea Vinnicombe – an Assistant Professor at the Institute for Tourism Studies – has been teaching economics at higher education institutions in Australia and further afield for a number of years. She came to IFT from the University of Applied Sciences in Fulda, Germany. Dr. Vinnicombe has a PhD in economics from the University of Queensland, in Australia. Her research interests include the history of economic thought, Islamic economics and finance, and resource economics.

IFT Lecturer Joey Sou Pek U holds a master’s degree in development economics from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom. Ms Sou teaches topics related to economics, statistics and finance. Her research interests include development economics, with a particular focus on empirical studies in Greater China.


The paper

Thea Vinnicombe and Joey Sou Pek U: “Socialization or genre appreciation: the motives of music festival participants”, International Journal of Event and Festival Management, Volume 8, Issue 3, pages 274-291, 2017.