Although many people can’t attend concerts due to lockdowns, there’s an added bonus for when they can. Everyone knows that going to concerts is fun and exhilarating, but many are unaware of how much they could improve their well-being. A 2018 study found that attending a live music event every two weeks was linked to increased life expectancy by about nine years.
Going to Concerts Improves Wellbeing
Mobile network operator O2, who owns some of the largest music venues in the United Kingdom, and Patrick Fagan, Goldsmith University’s Associate Lecturer and expert in behavioral science, collaborated on this study. Together they discovered that 20 minutes of live music could increase positive wellbeing by 21%. Additionally, research has linked high levels of wellbeing to a nine-year increase in lifespan.
This is because positive well-being could improve physical illness since stress and low well-being have been associated with slower healing. In short, the more a person enjoys life, the longer they’ll live.  For the study, Fagan used heart-rate monitors to survey the participants as they accomplish different wellness activities, like dog-walking, yoga, and going to concerts.
Along with the 21% improvement in wellbeing, the participants going to concerts also experienced about a 25% improvement in their feelings of self-worth, a 25% increase in feeling closer to others, and a whopping 75% increase in mental stimulation.
However, there’s also a strong correlation with improved well-being and regularly going to concerts and gigs. In fact, those who attended live music events every two weeks most often gave high scores to their levels of self-esteem, happiness, and productivity. That is to say; live music seems to be the key to long-term positive wellbeing.
Nina Bibby, CMO at O2, said: “We all know just how good it is seeing your favorite band or artist live, but now we have the proof.”
The Benefits of Live Music
Although music could always have a positive effect, it’s harder to attain all of these benefits in private. The shared experience and vibrancy of a live show can’t be replicated alone with a recorded playlist. In fact, 67% of the participants included in the study said that live music made them feel happier than listening to songs at home.
“Our research showcases the profound impact gigs have on feelings of health, happiness, and wellbeing — with fortnightly or regular attendance being the key,” said Fagan. “Combining all of our findings with O2’s research, we arrive at a prescription of a gig a fortnight which could pave the way for almost a decade more years of life.” 
Although these results are promising, the benefits of live music need more research to confirm. And preferably, the study shouldn’t be from a company that owns concert venues. 
However, the link between music and improved mental health has already been established. As well as the link between happiness and increased lifespans. For instance, Finnish researchers found that “children who took part in singing classes had higher satisfaction rates at school”. Additionally, music therapy could improve sleep quality and overall mental health for patients with schizophrenia.  Plus, a study from the University College London found that adults who felt happy were 35% less likely to die as opposed to the other participants.
“We had expected that we might see a link between how happy people felt over the day and their future mortality, but we were struck by how strong the effect was,” Andrew Steptoe, the study’s lead author. 
Live a Long, Happy Life
For now, when attending gigs and concerts are out of the question, there is another way to potentially increase one’s lifespan. Become an optimist.
The study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that people with high levels of optimism tended to live longer. They discovered this by analyzing two population studies. One included 1,400 men from the Veterans Affairs Normative Aging Study; the other included about 70,000 women from the Nurses’ Health Study. Higher levels of optimism showed longer lifespans for both genders. This also included “exceptional longevity,” which the researchers called living to 85 years of age.
This also isn’t a perfect study. The populations analyzed were predominantly white with a higher socioeconomic status compared to the general public.  Therefore, this study needs more research to confirm its finding. But in the meantime, becoming a little more optimistic will only provide benefits. After all, we could all use a little more positivity in our lives after everything in 2020. Hopefully, everyone will be back to going to concerts in 2021.
- “Wellbeing and Longevity.” Department of Health UK. Health Improvement Analytical Team. January 2014.
- “Science says gig-going can help you live longer and increases wellbeing.” O2. March 27, 2018
- “Going To Concerts May Help You Live Longer, Research Finds.” Global Citizen. David Brand. March 28, 2018
- “Music, the Mind and Healing.” American Psychiatric Association. September 27, 2016
- “Happiness linked to longer life.” CNN. Amanda MacMillan. July 20, 2018
- “If you are happy and you know it… you may live longer.” Harvard Health Publishing. David R. Topor, PhD, MS-HPEd. October 16, 2016