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Do you have to be there? What Taylor Swift, Coachella, and selfies tell us about live events

Famous people taking selfies at Coachella.

Famous people taking selfies at Coachella.

In a rousing speech at an event called Wisdom 2.0, Julia Hartz, the founder of the site everyone uses to make events easy—Eventbrite, of course—revealed some key research that underpins the rise of experientialism. 

The key findings were:

  • Experience economy rising: 45% of Americans intend to attend more and spend more on live events

Hartz believes there are a number of macro trends that explain this rise:

  • Macro trend 1: Experientialism 
    As Hartz says: "Consumer sentiment is shifting… We used to be about what we bought or what we had that defined us, our first car, house, handbag… and that started to build our identity. Now it's it's about what we do, and where we go, that really fulfils that need for identity."  
  • Since the 80s… spending on live experience has increased 70%

  • Macro trend 2: Here come the Millennials, the "experiences generation"
  • 3 out of 4 Millennials would choose to spend money on experience over a product
  • 72% Millennials intend to spend more on live experiences


  • Macro trend 3: Social beings
  • Human beings have always been social, but now we're really social. Now, everyone has a smartphone, everyone shares all the time, and as Hartz says, "technology fuels live experiences" because of the value of sharing something online.
  • 1 in 3 Millennials share during an event.
  • 1 in 4 share after an event.
  • Taylor Swift says that ever since introduction of the iPhone she hasn't been asked for autograph. "The selfie is the new autograph," says Hartz. "It's the ultimate social capital for super fan."


  • Macrotrend 4: FOMO
  • 1 in 2 admit they experience fear of missing out— and that's driving people to spend more on live experiences.
  • This is how it worked for Coachella. When the organisers of this California festival started streaming the festival with high-def cameras in 2007,  many thought the organisers must have gone mad, and that this would cannibalise ticket sales. Instead, ticket sales tripled in the following years.

The video of the presentation Hartz gave at Wisdom 2.0 is here (Note: Hartz explained it as 3 macro trends but we prefer to break it into 4).

When we say everyone organises events through Eventbrite, we are including The Future is Already Here. When our founder, James Wallman, held a Stuffocation Salon in New York City, he used Eventbrite. 

* The title of this post is a reference to the Financial Times's art columnist Peter Aspden's article about experientialism, called You have to be there


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