Live Performance / Music Industry

Why Do Concerts Always Start Late?

If you’ve recently attended a concert, you’re probably wondering why it started so late. Whilst it’s tempting to blame the artist themselves, the time a concert starts is almost-always out of the artist’s hands. 

So, why do concerts always start late? 

The primary reason concerts start late is to increase revenue; the more time patrons spend in the venue, the more money they’re likely to spend. Similarly, it allows maximum exposure for the opening acts and increases the perceived value of the ticket price. Occasionally, concerts will start late due to unforeseen technical issues. 

Keep reading for an in-depth guide on why concerts consistently start late, as well as a full FAQ. 

To Increase Revenue 

This is the primary reason why concerts start significantly later than the advertized time. Simply put, the more time patrons spend in the venue, the more money they spend. 

Aside from ticket sales, most concerts feature three additional forms of monetization:

  • Drink sales (for the venue)
  • Parking (for the venue)
  • Merch sales (for the artist)

Venues, promoters and artists know that giving patrons time to hang around will tempt them to wander over to the bar or the merch table.

Similarly, by extending the time patrons spend at the concert, a venue can double or even triple their parking revenue. Therefore, they’ll start the concert slightly later than advertized and insert lengthy intermissions in-between acts.

To Ensure There’s A Crowd For The Opening Act

Concert-goers are notorious for showing up late to concerts. This is usually for one of the following two reasons:

  • They finish work late: If a concert-goer finishes work at 6:00PM, it’s unlikely they’ll make a 7PM start time for a concert they’re attending that evening. 
  • They aren’t interested in seeing the opening acts: Sometimes, concert-goers simply don’t feel like going early and sitting through two or three opening acts before the featured artist takes the stage. 

Something you might not know is that opening acts are often on the same label/promotions/management roster as the featured artist.

When a label, promoter or management company invests money into an event for an established artist, they’ll usually take the opportunity to cross-promote their smaller acts. It’s in their best interest to ensure as many people as possible see the opening act.

Therefore, they’ll push the start time back by approximately one hour to allow everyone a chance to arrive at the venue before the concert actually starts. 

If you’d like to learn more about why concerts feature opening acts, check out our dedicated article.

To Make The Ticket Seem More Reasonably-Priced

The main reason concert ticket prices are so expensive is because of the substantial overhead costs involved.

Venue hire can run into the tens of thousands, as can tour insurance. Furthermore, the musicians themselves require travel, accommodation, catering and a salary. 

Despite the high costs involved, a band or artist can only realistically perform for between 90 and 120 minutes. This is for two reasons:

  • Not enough material: A band or artist will usually release an album every 1-2 years. As touring generates far more revenue than album sales in the modern-day music industry, it’s usually prioritized over recording. A band or artist that has only released one or two albums simply won’t have enough material to form a set that’s longer than two hours. 
  • Fatigue: Music performance is very physically-demanding. Musicians may have to perform energetic choreography, whilst simultaneously dealing with the stress of playing in front of a large audience. A singer’s voice will also start experiencing fatigue after approximately two hours of singing. 

To make the ticket price seem more reasonable, concerts are usually extended via the following two techniques:

  • Featuring opening acts
  • Extending start/intermission times

Technical Issues

There are a million things that can (and do) go wrong at concerts which set the entire night behind schedule. Here are two of the most common:

  • Changeover time: For concerts with multiple opening acts, each opening act’s gear will have to be set up immediately before they play, then stripped down immediately after they play (the headliner’s gear will usually be set up the whole time). Occasionally, gear may take longer than expected to set up/tear down or there may be a problem with a piece of equipment, meaning it’ll have to be fixed on the spot. 
  • Sound/power issues: I recently attended a concert where the power in the venue went out midway through an opening act’s set. It took almost half an hour for the power to be restored, which set the night significantly behind schedule.


What Time Do Concerts Actually Start?

If you don’t really feel like hanging around in the venue, you’re safe to turn up between 45 minutes to an hour after the advertized time. 

That being said, I’d strongly encourage you to make sure you turn up in time for the opening acts when attending a concert. You might discover a new band or artist that brings immense value to your life, which in-turn helps out those trying to break into the industry. 

What Time Are Concerts Over?

Most concerts will have a curfew of around 11PM. This is almost-always due to noise ordinances in the local area. 

Are There Any Concerts That Start On Time?

Festivals almost-always start on time. With a staggering amount of acts on the lineup, things simply can’t afford to slip behind schedule.

As festival-goers will be spending the entire day (or sometimes several days) at the event, the organizers won’t have to try and keep them hanging around to increase their revenue. 

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About Author

I'm George; the founder of Indie Panda. I'm passionate about helping independent musicians realize the full potential of their talents and abilities through a strong work ethic, coherent project identity and a strong logistical foundation.