Science says that spending money on experiences makes people happier, and our recent study of 2,000 people shows that more than 50% of Americans say the best purchases they’ve ever made were spontaneous. Turns out, snapping up impulse concert tickets is a great way to round out a weekend while boosting your mood.
We ranked the top 25 cities based on the percentage of music fans who buy last-minute concert tickets. We also discovered where it’s easiest to score free, last-minute tickets to music events in America, along with the music that’s most popular in each major metro.
Move over, California dreamers: when it comes to seeing live music, Washington DC is the most free-spirited place in America.
Don’t believe us? We found that Washington DC has the highest percentage of last-minute music ticket buyers, with 46% of attendees buying their tickets 24 hours before an event. The second most spontaneous city is Greensboro, NC at 44%, followed by San Jose, CA at 41%. Laidback Los Angeles doesn’t make the list until #7, alongside Dallas, TX and Oakland, CA, all at 37%.
And if you thought there might be more free concerts in the DC area driving these last minute purchases, you’d be wrong. Only 25% of concert tickets in DC are free. Ironically, the cities with the most free concerts are filled with the least spontaneous music fans: Out of the top 25 last-minute music cities, Seattle, WA and Kansas City, MO sit right at the bottom, selling less than 30% of their tickets last minute. However, both offer free entry at an incredible 83% of their cities’ music events. The city with the least amount of free shows is the high-rolling Paradise, NV, making the list at America’s 21st most spontaneous city; only 4% of music events in Paradise are free.
And unsurprisingly, high-strung New Yorkers live up to their neurotic reputation. Only 26% of NYC concert tickets were sold the day before a show, putting them at the 23rd most spontaneous city for concerts.
But what does “spontaneous” really even mean? While 68% of Americans label themselves as such, only 12% of people are willing to plan a night out with friends the day-of. Nearly half (43%) of people make plans 1-3 days in advance, with 19% of respondents scheduling out a full week in advance.
But when they do jump on last-minute buys, America’s top three purchases are experiences, not things: eating dinner, weekend plans, and music festivals. 59% of people say deciding where to eat last minute is their number-one impulse purchase, followed by weekend plans at 24%, and attending music festivals at 12%.
And when event-goers add those spontaneous events to their itineraries, they say that cost (83%) and convenience (55%) are the biggest factors impacting their purchases. They care way less about free swag or if a friend is going, and more about how entertaining the event seems. In fact, 75% of last-minute event-goers base their decisions on the fun factor.
The survey’s average respondent spends $144.25 per month on last-minute spends — that’s $103,000 in a typical adult lifetime! These decisions are most often made about what to do this weekend (39%) or even what to do tonight (36%), but music festivals also made that list, with 12% of respondents saying their most frequent last-minute decisions involve these often pricey, always fun festivals.
Whether it’s where to eat dinner or what show to see tonight, over half of Americans (53%!) admit that their best purchasing decisions were made spontaneously. Washington, DC clearly knows how to live.